Pneumonia in cats is an inflammation of the lungs and airways that can occur for a number of reasons. Today our Harlingen vets explain a little more about the causes, symptoms and treatment for pneumonia in cats.
What causes pneumonia in cats?
If certain bacteria, viruses, or fungi enter your cat's nostrils or trachea, it can cause infection and inflammation that may lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia can result in breathing difficulties and lower oxygen levels in the blood, which can weaken immunity. Although cats of any age can develop pneumonia, it is more commonly found in young kittens, senior cats, or cats with pre-existing health issues.
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 improperly administering liquid medications or inhaling 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?
Detecting pneumonia in cats can be challenging as its symptoms overlap with those of other respiratory infections and cat colds. However, if your cat has pneumonia, it may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Shallow or laboured breathing
- Persistent coughing
- Gurgling or rattling respiratory sounds
- Nasal discharge
- Lack of appetite
- Unusually fast breathing rate
- Coughing up mucus or blood
- Bluish mouth
- 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, it is important to keep them separated from other pets to prevent the spread of the virus or bacteria. You can do this by keeping your sick cat contained in a separate room.
Make sure to provide them with a comfortable place to rest, a fresh and clean litter box, and sufficient food and water.
Remember to frequently clean your cat's food and water bowls, litter box, and toys, which may be contaminated. Additionally, it is crucial to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your unwell cat.
Can a cat recover from pneumonia?
After your vet has diagnosed your cat with pneumonia, they will initiate treatment to stabilize your pet's condition and combat the infection.
The treatment plan will depend on the severity of the symptoms, which may necessitate hospitalization for monitoring, oxygen therapy, nebulizer treatment to alleviate respiratory symptoms, intravenous fluids to combat dehydration, and broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to fight the infection.
The prognosis for cats with pneumonia is generally positive with proper treatment. However, aspiration pneumonia is challenging to treat and may result in further complications later on.
The cat's recovery will be influenced by the underlying cause of the illness, as well as their overall health and age. Very young, very old, or immunocompromised cats may not be able to withstand a severe case of pneumonia.