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Pneumonia in Cats

For a few reasons, cats’ lungs and airways can become inflamed and they can develop pneumonia. Today, our Huntersville vets list the causes, symptoms and treatment options for pneumonia in cats.

What causes pneumonia in cats?

Bacteria, fungal organisms or viruses can invade your cat’s nostrils and enter the airways, resulting in infection or inflammation that can cause pneumonia.

This condition may cause your cat to have difficulty breathing. There may also be a lack of oxygen in the blood, which can weaken your cat’s immune system.

Though pneumonia can afflict cats of any age, it’s most commonly seen in very young kittens, senior cats or those with underlying health conditions.

Cats may contract pneumonia in a few ways:

Infectious Pneumonia

Infectious pneumonia is the most common form of pneumonia diagnosed in cats. It can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection in the lungs and airways.

Aspiration Pneumonia

Kitties have a sensitive lining in their lungs, which can become irritated if they inhale foreign material. This can lead to aspiration pneumonia in cats.This type of pneumonia can result from the inhalation of vomit (if your cat is sick) or the improper administration of liquid medications.

Fungal Pneumonia (also known as mycotic pneumonia)

Left untreated, a fungal infection may develop into fungal pneumonia in cats. It’s believed that the source of most fungal infections in cats is the inhalation of spores from soil.


In some cases, parasites including lungworms and flukes can invade a cat’s air passages and cause pneumonia.

How can I tell if my cat has pneumonia?

Detecting pneumonia in cats is sometimes difficult, because many symptoms are also associated with other conditions or illnesses, including other respiratory infections such as cat colds.

However, if he or she is suffering from pneumonia, your cat may display one or more of these symptoms:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Rattling or gurgling respiratory sounds
  • Coughing up mucus or blood
  • Bluish mouth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Unusually fast rate of breathing
  • Shallow or labored breathing
  • Untidy appearance
  • Persistent coughing
  • Lethargy

Other symptoms including increased heart rate, difficulty swallowing and vomiting may also appear if your cat has aspiration pneumonia. Cats with fungal pneumonia may also exhibit symptoms such as skin lesions, issues with their eyes or skin, lameness and runny eyes.

Is pneumonia in cats contagious?

Cats suffering from viral or bacterial pneumonia may pass the condition on to other cats, dogs and small animals they have close contact with.

To help prevent pneumonia from spreading, separate your sick cat from other pets in your home by keeping them in a separate but comfortable room - they’ll need a comfortable area to rest, plenty of water and food, and a fresh, clean litter box.

Your cat’s toys, litter box, food and water bowls should be cleaned frequently. Also make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after petting or handling your cat.

Can cats recover from pneumonia?

If your cat is diagnosed with pneumonia, your vet will begin treatment to stabilize your cat’s condition so his or her body can start to fight the infection.

Depending on the severity of your cat’s symptoms, treatment may include hospitalization for close monitoring, a nebulizer treatment to help alleviate respiratory symptoms, intravenous fluids to treat dehydration, and oxygen therapy.

Your vet may also prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics or anti-fungal medications to help fight the infection.

If the pneumonia is diagnosed and treated early enough, the prognosis is generally good for cats with pneumonia. That said, aspiration pneumonia is especially challenging to treat and can lead to further complications later in life.

Your cat’s overall health, underlying cause of illness and age will determine how well your cat recovers from pneumonia. Unfortunately, very young cats, senior cats or cats that are immunocompromised may not be strong enough to overcome a severe case of pneumonia.

Can pneumonia in cats be prevented?

Doing what you can to maintain your cat's good physical health may help to prevent pneumonia. Ensure they eat a nutritious diet, and ensure they see our Huntersville vets on a regular basis.

During a routine wellness exam, the vet will thoroughly examine your pet's health and take steps to prevent health problems, or catch them in their earliest and most treatable stages. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

Is your cat showing signs of pneumonia or having difficulty breathing? At LakeCross Veterinary Hospital, our Huntersville vets can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. Book an appointment today.

Pneumonia in Cats | Huntersville Vet

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