Can Cats Get Pneumonia?
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Pneumonia is classified as an infection of the lungs that can be caused by a number of sources including bacteria, a fungus, a parasite or something that has been inhaled. This means that cats can get pneumonia so how do you recognise the symptoms in your pet? And what is the treatment?

Understanding the condition

Pneumonia is often a secondary condition as part of another illness, with one of the feline viral respiratory illnesses being the primary candidates. This is because the immune system is weakened by the primary infection, allowing the cause of the pneumonia to get a hold. Kittens and senior cats are most at risk of getting the illness, as are those with conditions such as diabetes that reduce the effectiveness of their immune system or those who have existing respiratory issues such as chronic bronchitis.

The general symptoms of pneumonia are similar to other respiratory conditions – high fever, breathing rapidly, coughing, an increased pulse rate and a bubbling in the chest. If the condition is severe enough to reduce the oxygen in the blood, there will be a bluish cast to the mucous membranes of the mouth.

Treatment

Normally a vet may need an examination to confirm the condition with extra tests such as lab tests or a chest X-ray also used. Pneumonia is a serious condition and if you think your cat may be suffering from it, you should keep them somewhere warm and dry until you can get them to the vet. Ensure they get plenty of water and resist the urge to use any kind of cat cough medicine because it can inhibit coughing and this is often beneficial to cats with this condition.

The most common treatment for pneumonia is a specific antibiotic based on what has caused the condition and this is prescribed by your vet after tests have been conductor. A nebuliser is something used as the best method of getting the antibiotics straight into the lungs and this may mean the cat needs hospitalisation for this therapy and to receive fluids.

Pleural effusion

Pleural effusion is the most common cause of breathing difficulties in cats and happens when an accumulation of fluid reduces the amount of space in the lungs. This compresses them and stops them filing with air and is more commonly encountered in cats than any other animal. The reason that cats suffer with this condition are as a result of two diseases - feline infectious peritonitis and feline leukemia. Other causes can include cancer, liver disease and congestive heart failure.

Another cause is when a puncture wound allows an infection to enter this pleural space, often during fights with other cats. This lets pus build up in the lungs, which is then called empyema or pyothorax. In addition, if there has been bleeding into the chest cavity and the lungs, say following a chest trauma or blow to the abdomen, this can lead to compressions of the lungs and is termed as a diaphragmatic hernia. Shock is a serious risk in these cases.

Pleural effusion can be chronic, gradual or can cause acute distress in the cat, depending on the cause. One thing is constant – they will suffer problems with their breathing, be unable to fully expand their lungs and will often stretch their head and neck in an effort to get more air into their system. They may also be unable to lie down, breath open-mouthed and have a blue or grey appearance to the lips, tongue and gums due to a lack of oxygen. Other long term signs may be loss of weight, anemia, fever and even the signs of a heart or liver disease.


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