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The Reality of Pneumonia in Cats

Pneumonia in cats involves inflammation of the lungs and airways that can happen for a lot of reasons. Our Anaheim vets are here to talk about the causes, symptoms and treatments for pneumonic in cats.

What Causes Pneumonia In Cats?

If certain types of bacteria, viruses, or fungi get into your cat's nose or airway, they can grow into an infection. If not properly treated, it can become 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   
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
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.

Does My Cat Have Pneumonia?

Pneumonia in cats isn't typically a straightforward issue. Many of the symptoms can be associated with other illnesses or diseases including other respiratory infections so it can be a challenge to accurately diagnose. Nonetheless, if your cat is suffering from pneumonia they may display one or more of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lack of appetite
  • Gurgling or rattling respiratory sounds
  • Bluish mouth
  • Persistent coughing
  • Unusually fast breathing rate
  • Shallow or labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • 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 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 keep other pets safe from the spread of pneumonia, it is recommended to separate your sick cat from other pets in the house. Make sure your cat is in a safe, comfortable area with a comfortable place to rest, fresh clean litter, and fresh 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 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 recieve 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.
If your cat is struggling to breathe, or showing any of the tell-tale signs of illness, contact our Anaheim vets today for urgent care. For after-hours veterinary emergencies contact the nearest emergency vet. 

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Anaheim Animal Care & Pet Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Anaheim companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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