Every time I take my cat to the vet for medical treatment, there are two things that make me anxious. The first one is if he needs to be sedated and the second is how much medication he has to take to get well.
I am not a fan of taking medicine and neither is my cat, more so than me in fact. But the sad truth is that our cats fall sick from time to time and do need modern medicine to recover.
Penicillin is a common medication that many vets use to treat health problems in cats. It works well for treating bacterial infections.
In this article, we will be taking a look at what is penicillin, how it works and the kind of dosage that you should be giving your cat.
What Is Penicillin?
Penicillin is antibiotic or a group of antibiotics that are used to treat and prevent a number of bacterial infections in both humans and animals.
Penicillin doesn’t work well on viral infections like a cold or flu when aspirin or Tylenol can do a better job.
This drug was ‘accidentally’ created in 1928 by Alexander Flemming. It grew to become one of the most widely used and popular drug in human history.
How Does Penicillin Work?
I’m not going to bore you with the scientific details of how penicillin or antibiotics work. But the gift of it is that they work by breaking down the cell walls of the bacterial infection.
By keeping the cell walls weak and porous, water in the body is able to rush in and burst the bacteria.
Aggressive but effective.
You can take a look at this video if you want to know more about the mechanics of penicillin.
Can you Give Penicillin To Cats?
Penicillin has been used on cats to treat a large spectrum of bacterial infections for many years. It is commonly used to treat:
- Respiratory diseases
- Staph diseases
- Ear diseases
- Skin diseases
Penicillin is considered safe to use not only for cats but other pets and livestock too. The most common type of penicillin used by vets is called Penicillin g.
The thing about Penicillin g is that it is an antibiotic that can only be prescribed by your vet and not bought over the counter.
Vets are careful when prescribing antibiotics such as Penicillin g to pets as there are many bacteria that have grown resistant to penicillin.
One important thing to note is that penicillin is not meant to be used to treat parasites such as hookworms, tapeworms, roundworms and heartworms in cats. To properly get rid of these parasites, you need to use a dewormer.
Animals can react really badly to medication not meant to treat an existing condition or for their specific species. Even giving something to a cat that is meant for a dog can kill them.
How Much Penicillin Do You Give A Sick Cat?
There are a couple of ways of administering penicillin to your cat:
- Intramuscular injection (inject into the muscle)
- Intravenous injection (inject into the vein)
- Tablet or liquid penicillin
- Topical cream
Injections are the more commonly used methods of administering penicillin to a cat. If you have any form of penicillin at home, never use it on your cat without first consulting your vet.
It might not be the best type of antibiotic that your cat needs for its condition and it can even cause an allergic reaction when used without any medical supervision.
The recommended dosage for penicillin is 1ml per 45kg (100 lbs). Penicillin dosage is weight-dependent so if your cat weighs between 1-10k, it would only need 1/4ml of penicillin.
The next weight tier would be for cats that weigh between 10-20kg. They need 1/4-1/2ml of penicillin.
The recommended method of delivery would be by intramuscular injection once a day.
For penicillin in oral form, the recommended dosage is 5-12mg per pound or 10-25mg per kg of body weight. Give this medicine 1-2 hours on an empty stomach for better absorption.
It is best to continue giving your cat penicillin for 1-2 days after full recovery just to be sure that all the bacteria are eliminated.
How To Give A Cat A Shot Of Penicillin?
If you have never given your cat an injection before, it can prove to be one heck of a challenging task.
I have some experience with injections as I used to help my diabetic grandparents with their insulin jabs. But it is a lot safer with humans as they don’t scratch or bite back.
It is best to watch how your vet does it and try to emulate it to the best of your ability. If you are not confident then it’s best to bring your cat back daily to the vet for its jab until you get the hang of it.
Here’s a video that does a good job of explaining what needs to be done.
How Fast Does Penicillin Work In Cats?
Penicillin works rather fast in cats, taking only 1-2 to have an effect on their bodies. It might take 24 hours for your cat to experience any relief of symptoms.
Gradual improvements in your cat’s condition can be seen over the course of the antibiotic.
Are There Any Side Effects When Taking Penicillin?
Although penicillin has a wide safety profile and margin in cats, there are some side effects that your cat might exhibit if it’s more sensitive to this group of antibiotics.
The common symptoms are:
- Lack of appetite
- Skin rash
- Difficulty breathing
- Unable to walk properly
When my cat is on antibiotics, the most common symptom that he has is diarrhea. This is because penicillin not only kills the harmful bacteria in your cat’s body but also the healthy gut flora in its digestive system.
This kinda messes up his poop for a few days before returning to normal.
My vet will usually ask me to let them know if my cat is having any adverse reactions to his medication. They will then reduce the dosage to try and make it more manageable for him.
Don’t hesitate to let your vet know if your cat isn’t handling the penicillin well. For cat with severe allergic reactions, the vet will have to change to another type of antibiotic.
Dos And Don’ts When Giving Antibiotics To Cats
There are a couple of important things to note when your cat is on a course of antibiotics.
- Always make sure to finish the entire course given by the vet. If you stop it too soon, the bacteria will become resistant to this specific type of antibiotic.
- If you miss a dosage, do not double up on the next dosage as that can cause an overdose in your cat. Just give your cat the correct dosage as instructed.
- If you need to give your cat its antibiotics 2 hours earlier, you need to take note of the timing intervals. If the dosage is once every 4-6 hours, then 2 hours earlier might be too soon. Check with your vet first.
Dangers Of Antibiotics Overdose
Accidents do happen and there have been times when a pet owner unknowingly overdosed the cat. Always be sure about how much penicillin to give a cat.
It is possible for your cat to overdose on antibiotics if given too much of it.
The common side effects are:
- Loss of appetite
I would strongly advise you to at least inform your vet about the incident and see what’s the next best step. If the dosage is too high, you will need to bring your cat it for medical treatment.
The vet will have to try and induce vomiting to get the cat to regurgitate its stomach contents.