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Signs of Pneumonia in Cats

Pneumonia in cats is an inflammation of the lungs and airways that can be caused by various factors. In this blog post, our vets in Jackson will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for pneumonia in cats.

What causes pneumonia in cats?

If specific bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms enter your cat's nostrils or trachea, they can cause inflammation and infection, leading to pneumonia. This condition can cause breathing difficulties and a lack of oxygen in the blood, which can weaken the immune system. Although cats of any age can develop pneumonia, it is most commonly diagnosed in very young kittens, senior cats, or cats with pre-existing 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 – Aspiration pneumonia in cats is usually caused by the inhalation of a foreign material that irritates the sensitive lining of their lungs. One common cause of this condition is the incorrect administration of liquid medications or the inhalation of vomit when the cat is sick.
  • Fungal pneumonia (also called mycotic pneumonia)—This type of pneumonia begins as a fungal infection and progresses into 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, leading to pneumonia.

How do I know if my cat has pneumonia?

Detecting pneumonia in cats can be difficult as its symptoms are similar to those of other respiratory infections or cat colds. However, if your cat is suffering from pneumonia, they may exhibit one or more 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 also cause eye or skin problems, such as runny eyes, skin lesions, and 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 can pass it on to other pets in close contact, such as dogs and small animals.

It's best to keep your sick cat separated from other pets in your household to prevent the spread of the virus or bacteria.

You can do this by keeping them in a separate room with a comfortable place to rest, a fresh litter box, and plenty of food and water. R

Remember to frequently clean your cat's food and water bowls, litter box, and toys to avoid contamination, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling your sick cat.

Can a cat recover from pneumonia?

After diagnosing your cat with pneumonia, your veterinarian will begin internal medicine treatment to help stabilize your cat's condition and fight the infection. Depending on how severe your cat's symptoms are, they may need to be hospitalized for monitoring, receive oxygen therapy or a nebulizer treatment to help ease respiratory symptoms, get intravenous fluids to treat dehydration, and be prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to fight infection.

Fortunately, with treatment, the prognosis for cats with pneumonia is generally good. However, aspiration pneumonia is a particularly difficult form of pneumonia to treat and may result in further complications later on. The extent of your cat's recovery from pneumonia will depend on the underlying cause of the illness, as well as their overall health and age. If your cat is very young or old or has a weakened immune system, they may not be able to battle a severe case of pneumonia effectively.

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

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