Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and airways that can occur in cats for a number of different reasons. Here our Matthews vets explain some causes, symptoms and treatments for pneumonia in cats.
Types of Pneumonia in Cats
If particular bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms invade the nostrils and airways of your cat, they can develop into an infection or inflammation which can lead to pneumonia. If your cat has pneumonia they will experience breathing difficulties and oxygen deficiency in the blood, which can weaken their immune system.
Although cats of any age can develop pneumonia, it is most often diagnosed in very young kittens, senior cats, or cats with other underlying health conditions. Pneumonia can be contracted by cats in a number of different ways:
- Infectious pneumonia is the most common type of pneumonia seen in cats, and results from a viral or bacterial infection in the lungs and airways.
- Aspiration pneumonia is caused by the cat inhaling a foreign material, which results in 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 (also called mycotic pneumonia)
- Fungal pneumonia begins as a fungal infection that develops into pneumonia. The inhalation of spores from the soil is believed to be the source of most fungal infections seen in cats.
Parasites (Parasitic Pneumonia)
- In some cases parasites including lungworms and flukes can invade the cat's air passages and result in your cat developing pneumonia.
Signs That Your Cat May Have Pneumonia
In cats, pneumonia isn't always straightforward to diagnose since many of the symptoms are also associated with other conditions including other respiratory infections such as cat colds. Nonetheless, if your cat is suffering from pneumonia they may display one or more of these symptoms:
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Gurgling or rattling respiratory sounds
- Nasal discharge
- Lack of appetite
- Bluish mouth
- Shallow or labored breathing
- Rapid breathing rate
- Persistent coughing
- Weight loss
- Unkept appearance
If your cat has aspiration pneumonia they could experience other symptoms including difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate and vomiting.
Fungal pneumonia in cats can lead to eye or skin problems such as runny eyes and skin lesions, as well as lameness.
Contagious Pneumonia (Infectious Pneumonia)
Cats suffering from viral or bacterial pneumonia can pass the infection on to other cats, dogs, and small animals that they come in close contact with.
To help prevent the spread of pneumonia keep your sick cat separated from other pets in your home, by keeping them contained in a comfortable but separate room. Provide your sick kitty with a comfy place to rest, a fresh clean litter box, and plenty of food and water.
Frequently clean your cat's food and water bowls, as well as their litter box and toys that may be contaminated. Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your unwell kitty.
Recovery From Pneumonia
If your cat has pneumonia your vet will begin treatment to help stabilize your cat's condition then work to fight the infection.
Based on the severity of your cat's symptoms, treatment may include hospitalization for monitoring, oxygen therapy or a nebulizer treatment to help relieve respiratory symptoms, as well as intravenous fluids to treat dehydration, and broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to fight infection.
There is a good chance that your cat will recover from pneumonia if they receive appropriate treatment when they first develop the condition. However, aspiration pneumonia is particularly difficult to treat and can lead to further complications later.
The underlying cause of the illness, as well as your cat's overall health, and age will all play a role in how well your cat recovers from pneumonia. Sadly, young kittens, cats that are very old, or cats that are immunocompromised may not be strong enough to recover from 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.