Respiratory infections are not uncommon in cats, and in most cases, such infections are nothing to worry about.
They are usually mild infections, many are self limiting, and others can be resolved quickly with basic medical treatment. However, in some cases, a respiratory infection can progressively worsen till the cat develops pneumonia. Pneumonia in cats is a very serious condition, just as it is in humans. It is essentially inflammation of the lungs, usually accompanied by accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
If detected and treated promptly, and if the cat is otherwise in good health, pneumonia too can be overcome. However, in many cases, this condition is fatal.
Causes of Cat Pneumonia
Pneumonia can be caused by numerous factors, but in most cases it is the result of an infection – bacterial, viral, or fungal. Aspiration pneumonia in cats, in which inhalation of some substance causes pneumonia, is rather uncommon, but it does sometimes occur.
This is usually the result of a muscular or neurological disorder, or it can occur accidentally during severe vomiting or general anesthesia. Sometimes force feeding can also cause food or liquid to enter the wind pipe and the lungs. You should therefore be careful if you ever need to force feed your cat.
Cat Pneumonia Symptoms
Signs of pneumonia in cats include chronic coughing and nasal discharge. The cat’s breathing will usually also seem labored, or it might breathe unusually rapidly. Often the heart beat will also be unusually rapid. Pneumonia will typically also cause weakness, and the cat may be unwilling to exert itself. If and when it does exert itself, it will tire quickly. Other pneumonia symptoms in cats include cyanosis, in which the mucus membranes appear bluish in color, and fever, usually if there is an ongoing infection. If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, you should immediately schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
If the cat has a mild case of pneumonia, rest and medication will be adequate. It is important that the medication schedule and dosage are adhered to strictly. If you notice any apparent side effects, do not simply discontinue the medication – first discuss the problem with your vet. The more severe cases of pneumonia in cats usually require hospitalization, especially if your cat is refusing to eat or drink, or it is having severe trouble breathing. In such cases, the animal will need oxygen support and administration of intravenous fluids, as well as close monitoring by a vet.