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Signs & Symptoms of Pneumonia in Cats

Signs & Symptoms of Pneumonia in Cats

When cats have pneumonia, their lungs and airways become inflamed. Our feline friends can develop this condition for various reasons. In this blog, our Gold Canyon vets discuss the different causes of pneumonia in cats, as well as how you can recognize it and how it's treated.

What causes pneumonia in cats?

If particular viruses, bacteria, or fungal organisms make their way into your cat's nostrils or trachea, they could cause infection and inflammation, resulting in pneumonia. Cats that have pneumonia will suffer from breathing difficulties and oxygen deficiency in the blood, which could weaken their immune system.

Cats of any age can get pneumonia, but it's more common in senior cats, very young kittens, or cats that have other underlying health problems.

Ways cats can contract pneumonia:

  • Infectious pneumonia – Caused by a bacterial or viral infection in the airways and lungs, this is the most common kind of pneumonia in cats.
  • Aspiration pneumonia – Cats get this type of pneumonia by inhaling a foreign material, that irritates 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 referred to as mycotic pneumonia) – It starts as a fungal infection that 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 - Sometimes, parasites such as flukes and lungworms can invade a cat's bronchi, causing pneumonia.

What are the signs and symptoms of pneumonia in cats?

Since the symptoms of Pneumonia in cats can also be associated with other illnesses like cat colds and respiratory infection, it isn't often straightforward to detect. However, if your feline friend is suffering from pneumonia, they might exhibit one or more of these symptoms:

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

Fungal pneumonia in cats may also cause skin or eye problems like skin lesions, runny eyes, and lameness.

Aspiration pneumonia could also result in difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate, and vomiting.

Can my cat spread pneumonia to other cats?

If your cat has contracted viral or bacterial pneumonia they could pass it on to other cats, dogs, and small animals that they come in close contact with.

To help keep the bacteria or virus from spreading we recommend keeping your sick kitty contained in a separate room, away from the other pets in your home. Remember to give your feline friend a comfortable place to rest, lots of food and water, and a fresh clean litter box.

Clean your cat's toys, litter box, water/food bowls, and any other items that may be contaminated frequently. You also have to thoroughly wash your hands after handling your unwell kitty.

Are cats able to recover from pneumonia?

After your cat has been diagnosed, your vet will start your kitty's treatment to help stabilize their condition then fight the infection. Depending on how serious your cat's symptoms are, treatment could consist of hospitalization for monitoring, oxygen therapy or a nebulizer treatment to help alleviate respiratory symptoms, as well as intravenous fluids to treat dehydration, and broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to fight infection.

With treatment, the general prognosis for cats with pneumonia is good, although aspiration pneumonia is particularly difficult to treat and may lead to further complications later. How well your cat recovers from pneumonia will depend upon the underlying cause of the illness, as well as your cat's overall health, and age. Cats that are very young, very old, or immunocompromised may not be able to battle a severe case of pneumonia.

Contact our Gold Canyon vets today to schedule an appointment for your kitty if they are showing signs of pneumonia.

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