Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs and airways that can occur in cats for a number of reasons. Today our Memphis vets share more about the causes, symptoms and treatment for pneumonia in cats.
What are the causes 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 results from a viral or bacterial infection in the lungs and airways, this is the most common form of pneumonia seen in cats.
- Aspiration pneumonia 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 (also called mycotic pneumonia)
- Fungal pneumonia begins as a fungal infection which 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.
- In some cases parasites including lungworms and flukes can invade the cat's air passages and result in pneumonia.
How can I tell if my cat has pneumonia?
In cats, pneumonia isn't always straight forward to detect since many of the symptoms are also associated with other illnesses 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 laboured breathing
- Unusually fast breathing rate
- Persistent coughing
- Weight loss
- Untidy appearance
If your cat has aspiration pneumonia they could experience other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate and vomiting. Whereas fungal pneumonia in cats can also cause eye or skin problems such as runny eyes and skin lesions, as well as lameness.
Is pneumonia in cats contagious to other cats?
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, it's a good idea to keep your sick cat separated from other pets in your home, by keeping them contained in a comfortable but separate room. Provide your sick cat with a comfy place to rest, a fresh clean litter box, and plenty of food and water.
Clean your cat's food and water bowls frequently, as well as their litter box, and toys which may be contaminated. Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your unwell cat.
Will my cat recover from pneumonia?
If your cat is diagnosed with 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 ease respiratory symptoms, as well as intravenous fluids to treat dehydration, and broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to help fight infection.
For cats receiving treatment for pneumonia, the prognosis is generally good, 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, cats that are very young, very old, or immunocompromised may not be strong enough to battle a severe case of pneumonia.