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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 Clovis vets explain a little more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment for pneumonia in cats.

What causes pneumonia in cats?

If certain types of bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms enter your cat's nostrils or trachea, they can cause infection and inflammation, which can lead to pneumonia.

Cats suffering from pneumonia may have trouble breathing and may experience a lack of oxygen in their blood, weakening their immune system.

Although cats of any age can get pneumonia, it is most commonly found in very young kittens, senior cats, or those with other underlying health conditions.

Cats can contract pneumonia 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 improperly administering liquid medications or inhaling vomit if the cat is sick.
  • Fungal pneumonia (also called mycotic 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 such as lungworms and flukes can invade a cat's bronchi, resulting in pneumonia.

How do I know if my cat has pneumonia?

It can be challenging to identify pneumonia in cats as its symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory infections, such as cat colds. However, if your cat is experiencing pneumonia, they may exhibit some of the following symptoms:

  • Shallow or labored 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 cause eye or skin problems like runny eyes, skin lesions, and lameness in cats. Aspiration pneumonia can result in difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate, and vomiting in cats.

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 with whom they come in close contact.

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 that may be contaminated. Also, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your unwell cat.

Can a cat recover from pneumonia?

After your cat is diagnosed with pneumonia, the veterinarian will start the treatment process to stabilize your cat's condition and fight the infection. Depending on the severity of your cat's symptoms, the treatment may include hospitalization for monitoring, oxygen therapy or a nebulizer treatment to ease respiratory symptoms, intravenous fluids to treat dehydration, and broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to fight the infection.

With proper treatment, the general prognosis for cats with pneumonia is good. However, aspiration pneumonia can be challenging to treat and may lead to further complications. The recovery of your cat from pneumonia will depend on the underlying cause of the illness, as well as your cat's overall health and age. Cats that are very young, very old, or have a weakened immune system may not be able to fight a severe case of pneumonia.

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

New Patients Welcome

New Patients Welcome

Family Pet Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health and well-being of Clovis dogs and cats. Contact us today to get started! 

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