- Terramycin is the brand name for oxytetracycline, an antibiotic that is highly effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. It works by preventing the bacteria from synthesizing protein, which causes the colony to quickly die off, ending the infection. Terramycin is available in capsules for oral administration, an injectable fluid and as an ointment with polymyxin B.
- Terramycin is effective against the most common bacteria that infect the mouth, respiratory system/sinuses, eyes and blood cells, and is sometimes used to treat protozoan infections. It is the treatment of choice for tick-borne diseases and can also be used to treat infected wounds. In kittens, Terramycin ointment is commonly used to treat conjunctivitis, an infection of the inner membrane of the eyelid.
- For a kitten with conjunctivitis, Terramycin ointment is an effective treatment because not only does it kill bacteria, but as a topical medication, it is also easy to apply and rarely causes side effects. Feline conjunctivitis is caused by either the feline herpesvirus or the chlamydia bacteria, both of which are contagious to other cats; Terramycin has been proven effective against both. When applied the recommended three to four times daily, it will also keep the eye moist and prevent a secondary bacterial infection from forming.
- There is a chance that the mother cat will lick the medication from the kitten's eyes, reducing the effectiveness of treatment. If the kitten is more than two weeks old, keeping her isolated for a few minutes after application will give the medication time to sink in. Oral and injectable Terramycin are not given to kittens because tetracycline drugs can discolor developing teeth, and a high dose can cause kidney problems.
- If the infection does not seem to respond to topical Terramycin, a different sort of bacteria may be at work that is resistant to oxytetracycline. In this case, the veterinarian will most likely prescribe a different topical ointment or drop. If the infection is very severe, a course of oral antibiotics may be prescribed, usually Clavamox (clavulanic acid/amoxicillin). Clavamox is much safer and gentler for kittens and is available in a liquid form for oral administration.