Pneumonia is due to inflammation of the lungs and airways and can occur in cats for many different reasons. Today our Santa Barbara 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. When cats have pneumonia they experience breathing difficulties and oxygen deficiency in the blood, which weaken their immune system.
Although cats of any age can develop pneumonia, our Memphis emergency vets most often see pneumonia 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 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.
- 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 straightforward 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 labored 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 that 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 and 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.
There is a good chance that your cat will recover from pneumonia if they receive appropriate treatment early. That said, 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 feline friend 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.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.