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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 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.

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 liver disease.

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.

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

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