Just like humans, felines can fall victim to pneumonia. This dreaded lung disease can result from several factors, ending up as viral, bacterial or aspirational pneumonia. Prompt veterinary treatment can save kitty's life. You'll have to play cat nurse while he recuperates, waiting on him foot and paw.
Your lungs and kitty's lungs look pretty much alike except for size, performing the same functions. The two of you can also come down with similar lung ailments. Feline pneumonia comes in two general types: aspiration and infectious. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when kitty inhales a foreign object into his lungs. For example, he might throw up and some of the vomit gets into the lungs. Infectious pneumonia results from viruses, fungi or bacteria, especially the feline calici or influenza virus or cryptococcus, a fungus.
As in people, symptoms of pneumonia in cats start out resembling a cold, progressing to something far more serious. Your cat might start out coughing and sneezing, with a nasal discharge. His breathing becomes hard and loud and he has no interest in food. He's lethargic, feverish and obviously a sick kitty. Take him to the vet as soon as possible.
Your vet takes X-rays of your cat's lungs, along with taking his temperature and conducting a physical exam. She might also take a fluid sample from his lungs for testing. This helps identify the pneumonia's cause, including the type of bacteria if it's a bacterial infection. If the vet suspects aspiration pneumonia, she'll also do a urinalysis and examine his esophagus with an endoscope. Treatment depends on what is causing the pneumonia.
Kitty will probably require hospitalization for a few days until he stabilizes. He'll receive antibiotics, IV fluids to treat dehydration, and oxygen, if necessary. Once he begins to recover and starts eating again, he can go home, but requires supportive care for weeks. However, a lot depends on the cause of the disease. If there's another underlying disease causing pneumonia, such as feline infectious peritonitis, the outcome isn't going to be good. The best way to prevent most types of pneumonia is by taking kitty to the vet whenever he has any bouts of coughing or breathing problems. Nip that problem in the bud before it gets worse.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.