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Tuberculosis in House Cats

Tuberculosis is one of the oldest and most common chronic infectious bacterial diseases affecting wide varieties of animals and birds caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.


Cat appears to be more susceptible to Mycobacterium bovis than to Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium avium. In general M.tuberculosis is acid-fast, non-motile, non-spore forming slender, uneven rods having beaded appearance. The organisms are susceptible to sunlight, high temperature, steam, crersol compounds and alcohol but remain alive in decaying material and resistant to desiccation, alkalies and phenols.


Two of the major route of infection of tuberculus organism are intestine through ingestion of contaminated food and water and respiratory through inhalation of contaminated air and droplet infection. The organisms are continuously discharged through excreta, respiratory discharges, milk, urine and uterine discharges.

Clinical Forms of Cat Tuberculosis

Respiratory form is characterized by dyspnea (Difficult breathing), respiratory distress and chronic low moist cough. In alimentary form, dysphagia (Difficult in swallowing), progressive emaciation, and occasional diarrhea are seen; Signs involving other systems are uncommon in house cats.


  • Diagnosis is essentially based on postmortem lesions and histopathology together with demonstration of acid-fast organisms in tissue sections and impression smears when stained with Ziehl-Neelson’s technique.
  • Isolation of organisms
    Biological test by animal inoculation
  • ELISA and PCR where ever facilities are available.

Specimens appropriate for laboratory diagnosis

  • Tuberculosis lesion from lungs, lymph-nodes, intestine and other organs for isolation and histopathology
  • Sputum in respiratory form of disease

Prevention, Control and Treatment of Felid Tuberculosis

In endemic areas of cat tuberculosis, the suspected animals or clinically affected ones may be treated with commonly available anti-tubercular drugs like Tibinex, Inabutal-forte, Thenibutol, Tricox forte depending upon severity of the disease.

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