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Bartonella Shmartonella

The other day, a client of mine called in a bit of a panic. Recently, a stray cat appeared on the doorstep of his upstate vacation home, and even though he wasn’t intending on adding another cat to his single-cat household, this cat was pretty irresistible. A neutered male cat, declawed in front, no identification, and very friendly. Given that someone had obviously owned this cat (or possibly still did), my client took the cat to the local shelter so that he could be checked for a microchip. The verdict: no chip. Still, visions of a distraught family pining for their lost cat danced in his head, and he put up posters in the neighborhood and asked the shelter to hang on to the cat for a few days while a potential owner was sought. After 10 days, with no one claiming the big orange fella, my client was given the green light to adopt him.

The sweet kitty, now christened Opie, was taken to a local vet for examination. The local vet ran a FeLV and FIV test, which thankfully came back negative. The cat was given his first FVRCP vaccine, and a rabies vaccine.

So why the panic? Or should I say unnecessary panic? Because the vet, for some crazy reason, ran a Bartonella test, and this came back positive. The local vet recommended four weeks of “intensive” antibiotic therapy, and warned my client of some potential “consequences” of Bartonella.

By now, most cat owners have heard something about Bartonella. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so I hope to set the record straight with this blog post.