Pneumonia is a lung and airway inflammation that can affect cats for a variety of reasons. Our Trooper Veterinary Hospital team discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment of pneumonia in cats today.
What causes pneumonia in cats?
Bacteria, viruses, and fungal organisms can infiltrate your cat's airways and cause an infection or inflammation, leading to pneumonia. If your cat gets pneumonia, they will have breathing problems and a lack of oxygen in their blood, which will weaken their immune system.
Cats of any age can develop pneumonia however, it is most commonly diagnosed in very young kittens, senior cats, or cats with other underlying health problems. Pneumonia can be contracted by cats in a number of different ways:
- Infectious pneumonia in cats is the most common type of pneumonia seen in cats, and it is caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the lungs and airways.
- Aspiration pneumonia in cats is caused by the cat inhaling a foreign material, which leads to irritation of the sensitive lining of the lungs. A common cause of aspiration pneumonia in cats is the improper administration of liquid medications, or the inhalation of vomit if the cat is sick.
- Fungal pneumonia in cats (also called mycotic pneumonia) begins as a fungal infection that progresses into the development of pneumonia. The inhalation of spores from the soil is believed to be the source of most fungal infections in cats.
- Parasites such as lungworms and flukes can invade the cat's air passages and result in pneumonia.
What are the symptoms of cat pneumonia?
Pneumonia in cats can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are also found in other illnesses, such as other respiratory infections like cat colds. If your cat has pneumonia, it may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Gurgling or rattling respiratory sounds
- Nasal discharge
- Lack of appetite
- Bluish mouth
- Shallow or labored breathing
- Unusually fast breathing rate
- Persistent coughing
- Weight loss
- Untidy appearance
Aspiration pneumonia in cats can cause other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate, and vomiting. Whereas fungal pneumonia in cats can lead to eye or skin problems such as runny eyes and skin lesions, as well as lameness.
Is pneumonia in cats contagious between pets?
Viral and bacterial pneumonia can pass to other cats, dogs, and small animals that come in close contact with your sick cat.
To help prevent the spread of these diseases, keep your sick cat indoors and separated from other pets in your home. Make sure your cat has a comfortable place to sleep, a clean litter box, and plenty of food and water.
Your cat's food and water bowls should be cleaned frequently, as well as their litter box, and toys that may be contaminated. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling your sick kitty.
Do cats recover from pneumonia?
If your feline friend is diagnosed with pneumonia your vet will provide treatment to help stabilize your cat's condition and then work to fight the infection.
Treatment for pneumonia may include hospitalization for monitoring, oxygen therapy or a nebulizer treatment to help relieve respiratory symptoms, intravenous fluids to treat dehydration, and broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications, depending on the severity of your cat's symptoms and the type of pneumonia your cat has.
With treatment, the prognosis for cats suffering from pneumonia is good, however, aspiration pneumonia can be especially difficult to treat and often leads to further health complications.
The underlying cause of your cat's pneumonia, as well as your pet's overall health, and age will all play a role in how well your cat recovers from pneumonia. Sadly very old cats, young kittens, and immunocompromised cats may not be strong enough to battle a severe case of pneumonia.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.