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Signs of Pneumonia in Cats

Pneumonia in cats is an inflammation of the lungs and airways that can occur for a number of reasons. Today our Cordova vets explain a little more about the causes, symptoms and treatment for pneumonia in cats. 

What causes pneumonia in cats?

If particular bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms invade the nostrils or trachea of your cat, they may lead to infection and inflammation which can lead to pneumonia. Cats with pneumonia will experience breathing difficulties and oxygen deficiency in the blood, which can weaken the immune system.

While 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 –  Resulting from a viral or bacterial infection in the lungs and airways, this is the most common form of pneumonia seen in cats.
  • Aspiration pneumonia – 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) – This type of 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.
  • Parasites - In some cases parasites including lungworms and flukes can invade the cat's bronchi and result in pneumonia.

How do I know if my cat has pneumonia?

Pneumonia is not always straight forward to detect in cats since many of the symptoms are also associated with other illnesses including other respiratory infections or cat colds. That said, if your cat is suffering from pneumonia they may show one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Shallow or laboured breathing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Gurgling or rattling respiratory sounds
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unusually fast breathing rate
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Bluish mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Untidy appearance
  • Weight loss

Fungal pneumonia may also cause eye or skin problems such as runny eyes and skin lesions, as well as lameness in cats. 

Aspiration pneumonia could also cause your cat to experience difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate and vomiting.

Is Cat pneumonia contagious to other cats?

If your cat has contracted viral or bacterial pneumonia they could pass it on to other cats, dogs, and small animals that they come in close contact with.

In order to help prevent the spread of the virus or bacteria, it is a good idea to keep your sick cat separated from other pets in your household, by keeping them contained in a separate room. Be sure to provide your cat 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 which may be contaminated. Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your unwell cat.

Can a cat recover from pneumonia?

Once diagnosed, your vet will begin treatment to help stabilize your cat's condition then fight the infection. Depending 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 fight infection.

With treatment, the general prognosis for cats with pneumonia is good, although aspiration pneumonia is particularly difficult to treat and may lead to further complications later. How well your cat recovers from pneumonia will depend upon the underlying cause of the illness, as well as your cat's overall health, and age. Cats that are very young, very old, or immunocompromised may not be able to battle a severe case of pneumonia.

If your cat is showing symptoms of pneumonia, contact our Cordova vets to schedule an examination for your cat. Early diagnosis and treatment are your cat's best bet for a good outcome.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia in cats, Cordova Animal Hospital

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