HEALTH & CARE

How Much Penicillin to Give a Cat: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, and More

a cat at the vet taking liquid medicine
Steve Corelli
Written by Steve Corelli

Cats are very good at hiding their pain, but certain signs will notify you of their poor health condition. These can be caused by bacterial infection, viral attack, or even something fungal. If your cat likes to travel outdoors and one day he comes back with symptoms such as diarrhea or fever, then it is highly possible that he has contracted bacterial infection. You can relieve the symptoms by giving them penicillin. But then the question of how much penicillin to give a cat pops up.

Aspirin and penicillin have to be the most common drug types found in any household. Although penicillin is a drug predominately created with humans in mind, they can do wonders for a cat too. That’s why penicillin serves as a great first aid option to alleviate your cat’s symptoms until you can take them to the vet. Just make sure to administer the right dosage.

cat-being-treated with liquid medicine

In this post, we will be delivering to you all the information you need about administering penicillin to your cat. We have carefully put down our thoughts and verifiable notes on dosage tips, when to apply penicillin to your cat, the types of penicillin shots to consider, how to even apply it at all, and so much more.

Pre-Administration Information

Before you give penicillin to your cat, it’s best to learn some basic information first. Let’s start with the basic of basics: How exactly does penicillin work?

Bacterial infections are caused by (this is a no-brainer) bacteria. At the start of their growth phase, they will want to cement their position in the host’s (your cat in this case) body. Thus, they build a wall around the cells they have infected to protect themselves.

penicillin products on the table

What penicillin does is hinder the wall-building process. When the bacteria are not able to grow and expand, the drug then starts to attack what little is left. Gradually, the infection starts to slow down until it is finally eradicated so your cat will be healthy again.

When to Use Penicillin

Now that you know how the drug can cure your cat, it is time to see just when you should consider using it. Don’t go whipping out the penicillin container at the slightest hint that something is off about your cat. Know that the common uses of penicillin on your pet are limited to:

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Ear infections

  • Respiratory infections

  • Skin infections

  • Soft tissue infections

The infections listed above are some of the most common cases for which penicillin is prescribed. It is not uncommon for cats to get penicillin antibiotics prescriptions even when the vet has yet to properly identify what the infection is while waiting for lab results.

A cat-not-feeling-well

That’s because penicillin is such a cure-all for bacterial infections, and the side effects are often minor. However, if your cat is having a baby soon, you might want to hold off on getting that bottle of penicillin. When in doubt, speak with your vet on the matter.

What Type of Penicillin to Use

If you are familiar with your local pharmacy and their stock, you will agree that there is quite a number of penicillin options in the market. There are varieties such as the natural penicillin, aminopenicillin, extended spectrum penicillin, and penicillinase-resistant penicillins.

Image of Penicillin products on a white table

Each one of these has a specific function they perform—giving them an area of application that they excel in. For the sake of clarity, we will look at some of them below:

  • Natural Penicillin: This was the first type of penicillin used in clinical tests. It has a wide application in the treatment of conditions such as strep throat and meningitis.

  • Penicillinase-Resistant Penicillin: Although a very useful kind of penicillin too, it has a much narrower point of application. It is usually the one prescribed for cases of Staphylococcus.

  • Amino Penicillin: Having a protein base, aminopenicillin proves to be the go-to medicine in case of gram-negative bacterial infections. Asides from being a strong combatant of the E. coli strand, aminopenicillins are instrumental to the treatment of sinusitis, diarrhea, and bronchitis.

While all of the above are great options, one stands out as being very suitable for cats. Amoxicillin—a new type of the aminopenicillin—comes with a natural resistance to acids. This ensures that you won’t need to take your cat to the vet for regular shots. You can simply give them the amoxicillin orally at home.

How Much Penicillin to Give a Cat

We arrive at the core of the article. Now we will answer the question that led you here from the first place. How much penicillin you should give your cat depends on a lot of factors. Those factors include:

  • The weight of the cat

  • The type of infection being treated

  • The severity

  • The age of the cat

The thing with these factors is that they must not be considered individually when making up a dosage for the cat but wholly. For example, if you’ve got a big cat that has a renal dysfunction, the amoxicillin dosage for that cat would still be less than what a smaller cat with severe urinary infections will get.

Owner giving a pill to her cat

That shows you how one factor (weight) can be invalidated while another (type of infection) is used instead. As a general guide, you can administer penicillin to your cat according to the following information:

Cat Weight (Pounds)Tablet Size
<4.961/4
4.96+½
9.9½ - 1
>9.91

That table has been made with the size of the cat being a major factor, and every other factor being considered in minute proportions. However, for some very severe cases of infections, don’t be surprised if your vet does as much as double the dosage specified here.

Also, you might have noticed that the included table contains nothing as to the frequency or time length for administration. Like has been earlier mentioned, that is because those are dependent on the type of infection being treated.

Your vet will be in a better position to physically examine your cat and make the best decision. If, however, for some reason taking your cat to the vet immediately is not viable. However, you can administer the penicillin according to the table because that is the dosage that offers the maximum efficiency with minimum risks in most cases.

How to Administer Penicillin to Your Cat

Now that you know how much penicillin you should give to your cat, another question comes to mind: How exactly should you do it? There are some things to take into account when trying to decide the best practices for penicillin administration on cats:

Consider the Type of Penicillin

Penicillin for cats can be obtained in two different forms: liquids, and tablets. The form in which you should get the penicillin is dependent on the specific medication that you have been prescribed.

Administering liquid penicillin is probably the easiest way to go, but you’ll be surprised to find out that some cats don’t find it difficult to push down a pill either. If you will be going liquid, mix it with their food and serve it to them.

Cat getting liquid medication at the vet

Make sure the food is way more than the drug proportion-wise so that the cat will be enticed to eat it. The same goes for pills, although with this one you might find better success by hiding it in moist/semi-moist food whereas liquid penicillin goes well with dry treats as well.

Following the point above, it’s best if you could get your vet’s opinion first. Amoxicillin can be hard on the cat’s digestive system, so not all cats should be given the drug with food.

Follow the Schedule

This is what we consider to be the most important when giving your cat penicillin. Make sure the cats get their drug every day, and at the designated times too.

Image showing a clock on a calendar

Even if your cat is no longer showing the symptoms that prompted the use of the drug in the first place, make sure you follow through with the timetable till you get to the end of it. Not doing so could cause a relapse, and they are usually tougher to handle than the first case because your cat has built up an immunity to the drug.

Post-Administration Information

Having administered penicillin to your cats, you may be seeing signs of improvement already. You can breathe a bit easier, but don’t let your guard down just yet. There are some post-administration issues you must pay attention to.

Side Effects of Penicillin on Cats

Your cat may show some symptoms of side effects to the penicillin used. Likewise, your cat may not. For the sake of being one step ahead of the situation, here are some of the side effects you should look out for after administering penicillin to your cat

  • Loss of appetite

  • Development of a fever

  • Pains in the joints

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Kidney or liver damage

Allergic reactions may also occur as a result of the administration of penicillin on cats. When you see signs of vomiting or if your cat starts to develop rashes, don’t waste time in letting your vet know.

A cat laying down in the yard

Likewise, the fact that your cat’s body doesn’t react badly immediately to penicillin doesn’t mean there won’t be any delayed side effects. Prolonged use of penicillin may cause incidents such as trigger bloating and imbalance in the intestinal microflora. What those big words mean is that your cat will then be susceptible to upset stomach and flatulence.

To reduce the side effects that might come with the usage of penicillin, we advise that you supplement it with a probiotic. Note that the probiotics do not guarantee that there won’t be any side effects, but they will do their best to suppress them.

Penicillin Storage

Storing cat antibiotics is the same as storing any other bottle of medicine for humans too:

  • If in tablet form, store them in an airtight container maintained at room temperature

  • If oral, keep refrigerated

  • If in injection form, the effectiveness is limited to 24 hours after reconstitution (at room temperature). The same effectiveness can be retained for as long as seven days if refrigerated.

What to Do When You Miss a Dose

Missed doses can occur for a variety of reasons. No matter the reason, you should not try to combine two dosages into one. When you realize that you’ve missed a dose for your cat, try to get it to them fast.

Orange cat taking a pill medicine

If the next dose is coming up soon, skip the previous one and go on to the next plan. Under no circumstance should you give your cat more than one dose at a time.

Wrap Up

First-time users might have heard from their friends how penicillin solved their cat’s problems and thought that they could use the same dosage/plan/medicine for their feline. However, the truth is, it’s best if you do not administer any drugs at all on your cat without getting the vet’s blessings first.

Penicillin is a general antibiotic, which means that it can be used on almost anyone and anything. We said “almost” because some people (and even animals) have an allergic reaction to this antibiotic.

You could end up making matters worse for yourself and the cat if you try to administer any drugs without an expert’s guidance. Your vet is an authority figure that will guide you on the proper plan to follow, the mode of administration, and confirm the origin of the amoxicillin you’re giving to your furry friend.

White and orange cat-lying-down

Should you feel that your cat has been taking a lot of antibiotics to no effect, it might be time to employ the services of another vet. While that is not being disloyal to your usual vet, it gives you a second opinion on the matter. Humans are far from perfect, so you need to make sure your vet is not making a human error in the treatment of your cat’s condition.

We created this article to serve as an emergency source of information just in case you find yourself in a situation where the help of a vet is not readily available. Did you find the information useful? Do you have any experience with giving penicillin to your cat? If you do, please share it with us in the comments section so fellow cat owners in need will be able to make an informed decision.

About the author
Steve Corelli
Steve Corelli

Steve Corelli is a Pet Nutrition Expert from Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many nutritional strategies for different breeds and a member of some Pet Food development teams. His Maine Coon Stephan, as you might guess, is always well-fed.

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