Breeding catteries and boarding catteries are at risk from Bordetella bronchiseptica

Combine the widespread presence of Bordetella bronchiseptica in the cat population with the stress experienced in breeding and boarding catteries and it is easy to explain the association of disease with catteries.

However, although disease associated with Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) is most frequently seen in cats kept in breeding catteries or research facilities it also occurs in household cats taken to shows, boarded in catteries, or living in multicat households.

Transmission of Bb infection occurs between in-contact animals via intimate contact or by droplet infection. In a heavily contaminated environment Bb is relatively well protected within mucus, and survival outside the host may be long enough for indirect transmission to occur. Recovered cats (often showing no clinical signs of URTD) are important in the spread of infection. They have been shown to shed Bb for at least 19 weeks after recovery (Coutts et al 1996).

During the stressful act of parturition, clinically healthy, seropositive queens may start to shed organism and pass Bb to their offspring. This makes kittens obtained from breeding catteries and rescue shelters at particular risk. Younger animals appear to be especially vulnerable to the bacterium (Pennisi et al 1999), probably due to immuno-incompetence. The immaturity of the immune system and the stress of weaning may be contributing factors. Unlike most cases of feline infectious URTD a most alarming aspect of Bb infection in cats is the reports of acute deaths, particularly in young kittens. These are the result of rapid progression of disease to bronchopneumonia.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is widespread in the feline population.

Highest rates of exposure to Bordetella bronchiseptica are seen in multicat households and catteries.