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Pneumonia in Cats

Is your cat experiencing coughing, fever or signs of illness? They may be suffering from pneumonia. Today our Seymour vets discuss the different types of pneumonia in cats, the symptoms they may experience, and what the prognosis may be.

What are the different types of pneumonia in cats?

Pneumonia in cats can be caused by a number of bacteria, viruses, or fungal organisms that can make their way into your cat's body causing various infections resulting in pneumonia. Pneumonia in cats can result in a weakening of their immune system due to low blood oxygen levels due to difficulties with breathing. 

Although cats of any age can develop pneumonia, our Seymour vets most often see pneumonia in very young kittens, senior cats, or cats with other underlying health conditions. Some of the different types of pneumonia in cats are:

Infectious Pneumonia   
  • Infectious pneumonia results from a viral or bacterial infection in the lungs and airways. This is also the most common type of pneumonia that we diagnose in cats.
Aspiration Pneumonia
  • Aspiration pneumonia 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 (also called mycotic pneumonia)
  • Fungal pneumonia in cats 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.
Parasitic Infections
  • In some cases, parasites including lungworms and flukes can invade the cat's air passages and result in pneumonia.

What are the signs of pneumonia in cats?

In cats, pneumonia isn't always straightforward to detect since many of the symptoms are also associated with other illnesses including other respiratory infections such as cat colds. Nonetheless, if your cat is suffering from pneumonia they may display 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 labored breathing
  • Unusually fast breathing rate
  • Persistent coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Untidy appearance

If your cat has aspiration pneumonia they could experience other symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, increased heart rate and vomiting. Whereas fungal pneumonia in cats can also cause eye or skin problems such as runny eyes and skin lesions, as well as lameness. 

Should you be concerned about cat pneumonia being contagious?

If your cat is suffering from either viral or bacterial pneumonia it is important to keep in mind that they can transmit their illness to other animals that they come into contact with.

If your cat develops pneumonia, you should isolate them in your home and keep all other pets and animals away from them until they have fully recovered. Give your sick cat a comfortable place to rest, a fresh, clean litter box, and plenty of food and water.

You will need to clean all of your cat's things regularly including their litter box, food dishes and all toys and blankets. Washing your hands after every time you come into contact with your cat is crucial.

Can cats recover from pneumonia?

Yes, cats can recover from pneumonia with proper treatment and care. Treatment typically involves antibiotics to combat the infection, as well as supportive care such as fluids and rest. It is important to closely monitor the cat's progress and follow up with the veterinarian for any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.

Fluoroquinolones and cephalosporins are the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for treating pneumonia in cats. These antibiotics are effective against the bacteria that cause pneumonia in cats and are typically given orally or via injection by a veterinarian. To ensure that the infection is completely cleared, adhere to the prescribed dosage and treatment duration.

What is the prognosis for cats suffering from pneumonia?

You should have your cat examined as soon as possible in order to allow your vet to begin treatment as soon as possible to help your cat's condition improve as quickly as possible. Early intervention and treatment will be key to a good outcome. That said, aspiration pneumonia in cats is particularly difficult to treat and can lead to further complications later.

The underlying cause of the illness, as well as your cat's overall health, and age, will all play a role in how well your feline friend 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.

If you think that your cat is showing the symptoms associated with pneumonia, contact our Seymour vets to schedule an appointment.

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