Pneumonia in Cats
Pleural Effusion continued...
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
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.
Depending on the cause, cats can show acute distress or more gradual,
chronic signs of pleural effusion. However, in all cases, the cat will have
difficulty breathing. Cats often sit or stand with elbows out, chest fully
expanded, and head and neck extended to draw in more air. The animal may be
unable to lie down. The least effort produces sudden distress or collapse.
Breathing is open-mouthed, and the lips, gums, and tongue may look pale or
appear blue or gray. The blue-gray color, called cyanosis, is due to
insufficient oxygen in the blood. Depending on the cause of the fluid
accumulation, other signs of illness may include weight loss, fever, anemia, and signs of heart or
Treatment: When fluid builds rapidly in the chest, urgent veterinary
attention is required to prevent respiratory failure and sudden death. The
fluid will need to be drained. The cat should be hospitalized for care and
further diagnosis. A chest drain may need to be placed, antibiotics and pain
medications are usually required, and surgery may be necessary. An oxygen cage
may be required until the cat is stabilized.