When a cat experiences inflammation of the lungs and airways it can result in the development of pneumonia and other complications. Today our Alpharetta vets discuss what pneumonia in cat sis as well what can be the likely causes and how it can be treated.
What Is Pneumonia in Cats?
If particular bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms invade the nostrils or trachea of your cat, they may lead to infection and inflammation which can lead to pneumonia. Cats with pneumonia will experience breathing difficulties and oxygen deficiency in the blood, which can weaken the immune system.
Pneumonia can be contracted by cats of all different ages and breeds although it is most commonly seen in cats that have weaker immune systems such as senior cats and young kittens.
What are the different ways pneumonia in cats can contracted?
- 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 the improper administration of liquid medications, or the inhalation of vomit if the cat is sick.
- Fungal pneumonia (also called mycotic pneumonia) – This type of pneumonia begins 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 - In some cases parasites including lungworms and flukes can invade the cat's bronchi and result in pneumonia.
What are some of the signs that my cat is suffering from pneumonia?
Pneumonia is not always straightforward to detect in cats since many of the symptoms are also associated with other illnesses including other respiratory infections or cat colds. That said, if your cat is suffering from pneumonia they may show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Shallow or labored 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.
Will my cat be contagious to other cats if they have pneumonia?
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.
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. It is a good idea to wash your hands well if you have handled your cat while it has pneumonia.
What is the treatment & recovery for pneumonia in cats?
Once diagnosed, your vet will begin treatment to help stabilize your cat's condition and then fight the infection. Depending on the severity of your cat's symptoms treatment may 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 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.