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How can I tell if my cat has pneumonia?

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 causes of pneumonia in cats?

Some types of bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms can invade your cat's airways and develop into an infection or inflammation which can lead to pneumonia. If your cat develops pneumonia they will experience breathing difficulties and oxygen deficiency in the blood, which can weaken their immune system.

Cats of any age can develop pneumonia however, it is most commonly 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 in cats 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 in cats 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 in cats (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 such as lungworms and flukes can invade the cat's air passages and result in pneumonia.

What are the signs of pneumonia in cats?

Pneumonia isn't always straight forward to detect in cats since many of the symptoms are also associated with other illnesses including other respiratory infections such as cat colds. That said, if your cat is suffering from pneumonia you may notice one or more of these symptoms:

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

Aspiration pneumonia in cats can cause other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate and vomiting. Whereas fungal pneumonia in cats can lead to eye or skin problems such as runny eyes and skin lesions, as well as lameness. 

Is pneumonia contagious between cats?

If your cat is suffering from viral or bacterial pneumonia it 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 to other animals, it's a good idea to keep your sick cat indoors and separated from other pets in your home. Be sure to provide your sick pet with a comfy place to rest, a fresh clean litter box, and plenty of food and water.

Your cat's food and water bowls should be cleaned frequently, as well as their litter box, and toys which may be contaminated. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling your unwell cat.

Will my cat recover from pneumonia?

If your cat is diagnosed with pneumonia your veterinarian will provide treatment to help stabilize your cat's condition then work to fight the infection. Based on the severity of your cat's symptoms, treatment for pneumonia could 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 the infection.

With treatment, the prognosis for cats suffering from pneumonia is good, however aspiration pneumonia can be particularly difficult to treat and may lead to further health complications. The underlying cause of your cat's pneumonia, as well as your pet'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.

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.

Is your cat displaying symptoms of pneumonia? Contact our Memphis vets today to book an appointment for your cat. Our compassionate vets are here to help your pets feel better.

Signs and symptoms of pneumonia in cats, Memphis Vet

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