August 31, 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Organization: University of New Hampshire
Investigator(s): Sarah Proctor, DVM, MPH
Grant Amount: $3,600.00
Project Type: Basic Research
Project Status: Research Complete

Project Summary

This University of New Hampshire research project is evaluating the effect of antibiotic treatment in cats with signs of respiratory infection (URI) at the Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover, New Hampshire. The objective of the project is to compare the duration and severity of URI in cats treated with and without antibiotics.


The objective of the project was to compare the duration and severity of upper respiratory infection in cats treated with and without antibiotics.


The two-part study performed a prospective cohort study and bacterial testing in the study population. Cats that developed URI symptoms were placed into a treatment group (n=25) and control group that received no antibiotics (n=22). The average duration of URI for cats treated with and without antibiotics was 10.14 days and 8.72 days respectively. 20 cats from the study population were then tested with an aerobic bacterial culture and a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).


  • There was no significant different in both the severity and duration of URI among cats treated with and without antibiotics
  • Of the 20 cats tested for bacteria, 12 tested negative for URI bacteria
  • PCR results showed the following distribution: Negative for bacteria = 11; mycoplasma positive = 7; chlamydia positive = 1; Bordetella positive = 1; Pneumovirus positive = 1
  • Positive PCR result did not correlate with increased severity or duration of URI


Antibiotic usage did not show significant differences in this small population. These findings support the need for increased antibiotic stewardship in shelter cat populations and adds to the body of evidence calling for judicial antibiotic usage in both human and animal medicine. Future research could include comparing this data to historical incidences of URI at the shelter, evaluating the economic benefits of reduced antibiotic usage for the shelter and evaluating specifically which pathogens lead to the most severe illnesses.