Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Healthy Cats

Font Size

Pneumonia in Cats

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and is classified according to cause: viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic, or inhalation.

Pneumonia can follow one of the feline viral respiratory illnesses, when the cat’s natural defenses are weakened by the primary infection. This allows secondary bacterial invaders to gain a foothold. Individuals most likely to develop pneumonia are kittens, old cats, cats who are malnourished or immunosuppressed, and cats with long-standing respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis.

Recommended Related to Cats

Feline Herpes Symptoms and Treatment

Sneezing, congestion, watery eyes and nose....Has your cat caught a cold? It could be feline herpes, also known as feline viral rhinopneumonitis (FVR), rhinotracheitis virus and feline herpesvirus type 1 (FHV-1), and one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections in cats. Many cats are exposed to this virus at some point in their lives.

Read the Feline Herpes Symptoms and Treatment article > >

Aspiration of foreign material during vomiting (perhaps while the cat is under anesthesia) and the unskilled administration of medications or supplemental feedings account for occasional cases. Tuberculosis and systemic fungus infections are infrequent causes of pneumonia. These illnesses are discussed in chapter 3, Infectious Diseases.

The general symptoms of pneumonia include high fever, rapid breathing, splinting, cough, fast pulse, and rattling and bubbling in the chest. When the disease is severe enough to cause an oxygen deficiency, you will notice a blue cast to the mucous membranes of the mouth. The diagnosis is confirmed by laboratory tests and a chest X-ray.

Treatment: Pneumonia is a serious illness requiring urgent veterinary attention. Until veterinary help is available, move your cat to warm, dry quarters and humidify the air. Give her plenty of water. Do not use cough medications, because coughing in a cat with pneumonia helps to clear the airways.

Pneumonia usually responds to an antibiotic selected specifically for the causative agent. Your veterinarian can select the proper antibiotic. A nebulizer may be used as the best method of getting antibiotics into the cat’s lungs. Your cat may need to be hospitalized for fluids and oxygen therapy.

Cats with severe respiratory infections may not want to eat because they can’t smell the food. Strong-smelling food, such as canned tuna, may help to stimulate appetite. Gently warming the food will also make it more aromatic.

 

Pleural Effusion

The most common cause of difficult breathing in cats is pleural effusion-fluid accumulation in the pleural space surrounding the lungs. The fluid compresses the lungs and keeps them from filling with air. This condition is much more common in cats than it is in other animals. The reason is that cats suffer from two diseases that produce pleural effusion: feline infectious peritonitis and feline leukemia. Other causes of pleural effusion include cancers, congestive heart failure, and liver disease.

Infections in the pleural space follow puncture wounds of the chest, often acquired in fights with other animals, including other cats. The infection leads to pus formation in the lungs, a condition called empyema or pyothorax.

Bleeding into the chest cavity and lungs often follows chest trauma. A severe blow to the abdomen can rupture a cat’s diaphragm, allowing the abdominal organs to enter the chest cavity and compress the lungs. This is a diaphragmatic hernia. These cats can show evidence of shock.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

Today on WebMD

kitten with onions
Slideshow
Night stalking cat
Slideshow
 
Young woman holding Papillon
Slideshow
Kitten playing
Quiz
 
cat on couch
Evaluator
Kitten using litter box
Quiz
 
sleeping kitten
Slideshow
sad kitten looking at milk glass
Slideshow
 

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat at table
Slideshow
muddy dog on white sofa
Quiz
 
Maine Coon cat breed
Article
Pets: Behavior Problems in Cats
Slideshow