Bad-mouthed cats may have Bartonella bacteria
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2002:
Chronic gingivitis and stomatitis in cats, resulting in
tooth loss and inflamed gums, may be caused by Bartonella–the
bacteria that causes “cat scratch fever” in humans, after the
bacterium is transmitted into the bloodstream by cat claws that have
been licked by infected cats.
Cats can transmit Bartonella to other cats by scratching,
biting, spitting, hissing, sneezing, or even eye-licking in
connection with social grooming.
In addition to chronic mouth problems, Bartonella can cause
bronchitis, pneumonia and conjunctivitis (eye infection) in cats. It
also can cause these diseases in humans, plus chronic fatigue and
serious lymphatic diseases (a sign of which is enlarged lymph nodes).
Symptoms of Bartonella infection in humans can mimic mononucleosis
and Lyme disease.
The treatment for Bartonella is Azithromycin, sold in the
U.S. as Zithromax. The dosage for cats is 10 mg. per kilogram (two
pounds) of weight. An average cat weighing five kilograms (10
pounds) would get 50 mg daily for ten days.
The standard dose for humans is 500 mg the first day and 250
mg for four days thereafter.
A blood test can confirm the diagnosis of Bartonella, but the
test costs about $100 U.S.–and if one cat among a group of cats
housed together for very long is infected, they are probably all
We have seen dramatic improvement in all of the cats we have
treated with Azithroycin, not only in their mouths but also in their