Whether it’s your grandpa, your cat, or yourself, Pneumonia is not a desirable diagnosis to hear.

Pneumonia crosses species lines. It doesn’t care if you have fur covering your body or a toupee atop your head; illness and infection can lead to Pneumonia regardless of your genus.

Knowing the signs of Pneumonia in cats and the contributing infections and culprits could save your feline best friend’s life.

This article will help you recognize the symptoms and understand the available treatments for pneumonia in cats.

What Is Cat Pneumonia?

What is cat pneumonia
Pneumonia manifests in cats similarly to humans.

It is usually the result of a severe infection that spreads to the lungs, causing inflammation of one or both air sacs.

As fluid accumulates in the lungs, a pet parent will begin to see more severe signs and symptoms.

Whether mild, moderate, or severe, you should consult your veterinarian right away. Early intervention is one of the best tools when dealing with illness in any species.

Can Cats Get Pneumonia?

Can cats get pneumonia?
Yes. Cats can acquire Pneumonia as a result of other continued infections. 

It isn’t often that a cat develops Pneumonia completely out of nowhere.

Pneumonia usually comes about after one or several other infectious diseases have knocked down the immune system. Often these initial infections involve the respiratory tract.

Is Pneumonia in Cats Contagious?

Pneumonia itself isn’t contagious; only the infections that the cat is fighting off are contagious. The inflammation of the lungs’ air sacs (Pneumonia) can result from many different types of infection.

Can Cats Cause Pneumonia in Humans?

There may be a handful of zoonotic diseases that can be transferred from cats to humans, but Pneumonia isn’t one.

Some of the initial bacterial infections causing Pneumonia can be transferred to humans but only under certain circumstances.

Can humans get kennel cough? A bacterial and viral infection that occurs mainly in dogs and less often in cats? 

Yes, but only highly immunocompromised humans have ever tested positive for the bacteria causing kennel cough. So if you’re a reasonably healthy human with a reasonably healthy immune system, there is no risk to you.

Can Cats Get Pneumonia From Humans?

It is highly unlikely that a cat will “catch” Pneumonia from its owner. This is because most bacterial and viral components that lead to Pneumonia in humans aren’t transferable to cats. Although, if you have Pneumonia, take primary sanitation efforts seriously.

  • Wash your hands often, especially before touching your animals
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Try not to sneeze or cough directly at your animal
  • Allow proper air circulation into the home
Although cats don’t typically “catch” Pneumonia from humans, humans can sometimes have a hand in causing Pneumonia in cats.

Cats and dogs can develop aspiration Pneumonia from things like force-feeding or administering liquid meds. If the liquid goes in faster than an animal can swallow it, there is a risk of aspiration.

Aspiration will cause liquid to accumulate in the lungs if done often enough and cause aspiration Pneumonia in cats.

What Causes Pneumonia in Cats?

What causes pneumonia in cats
Many types of infections and conditions could plausibly lead to Pneumonia in cats. Luckily with help from your veterinarian, many of these infections and diseases can be treated before they progress to Pneumonia in cats.

Are Some Cats More Likely to Develop Pneumonia Than Others?

Cats with pre-existing respiratory conditions will be more vulnerable to developing Pneumonia than pets.

Cats with the following conditions may be more likely to develop Pneumonia:

  • Pre Existing viral infection
  • Regurgitation
  • Problems swallowing
  • Metabolic disorders

Types of Pneumonia in Cats

Types of pneumonia in cats
There are two kinds of Pneumonia that can develop in cats:

  1. Aspiration Pneumonia
  2. Infectious Pneumonia

Let’s explore each in detail.

Aspiration Pneumonia

Aspiration pneumonia in cats
What is Aspiration Pneumonia in cats?

Aspirational or inhalation Pneumonia causes inflammation of the lungs by inhaling things into them. Cats are more likely to aspirate on liquid medication than by chowing down their favorite food too quickly.

What causes Aspiration Pneumonia in cats?

While aspiration Pneumonia is more prevalent in dogs, cats can still be at risk. 

Cats may aspirate from things like:

  • Liquid meds
  • Force-feeding
  • Vomit
  • Regurgitating stomach acid
  • Foreign bodies

Aspiration in cats can also result from a deformity of the larynx that causes them to inhale “down the wrong tube” if you will.

Signs of Aspiration Pneumonia in cats

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing and hacking
  • Panting
  • Rattling while breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

Infectious Pneumonia

Infectious pneumonia in cats
Like Pneumonia in dogs, many culprits, if left untreated, can lead to Pneumonia in cats. Unfortunately, some are harder to spot than others.

Pneumonia in cats can develop from many viral, bacterial or fungal infections. However, cats are less likely to develop bacterial or fungal infections than dogs just because of who they are.

Cats are classy. Come on, when was the last time you caught your cat trying to eat some random poop?

Fungal Pneumonia In Cats

Fungal pneumonia in cats
As mentioned above, cats are less likely to develop fungal infections than dogs. Fungi causing fungal infections are usually found in contaminated soil or infected poop of another animal.

What is Fungal Pneumonia in cats?

Fungal Pneumonia in cats is the result of a deep fungal or mycotic infection. The inflammation caused by fungal Pneumonia can develop in the:

What causes Fungal Pneumonia in cats?

Many fungi can cause fungal infections, including:

  • Aspergillosis
  • Candidiasis
  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Mycetomas
  • North American Blastomycosis
  • Rhinosporidiosis
  • Sporotrichosis
  • Phaeohyphomycosis

One of the most common fungi that cause fungal infections in cats is Cryptococcus. 

Cryptococcus is a fungal disease that causes upper respiratory symptoms in cats. The fungi are primarily known for causing inflammation of the nose and sinuses.

Signs of fungal Pneumonia in cats

  • A short, productive cough
  • Sneezing, with thick discharge
  • Laboured breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness

Antifungal medications are used to clear fungal infections in cats. However, it can be pretty time-consuming. Many times several rounds of treatment are necessary to eradicate a fungal infection causing Pneumonia in cats ultimately.

Bacterial Pneumonia in Cats

Feline bacterial pneumonia
Bacterial Pneumonia causes inflammation of cells and fluid in the lungs and airways caused by pathogenic bacteria. Although bacterial pneumonia is more common in dogs, cats can also be at risk.

What Causes Bacterial Pneumonia in Cats?

Pathogenic bacteria are the most common cause of bacterial infections in cats and dogs. The following are the most common causes of bacterial infections in cats.

Top 3 Culprits of Bacterial Infections and Bacterial Pneumonia in Cats

  1. Bordetella Bronchiseptica
  2. Pasteurella
  3. Chlamydia Felis

Anaerobic bacteria can also be responsible for bacterial infections and bacterial Pneumonia in cats, but these are the most often seen in cultures and swabs of cats with Pneumonia.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Again with the Bordetella??

Yep. Bordetella Bronchiseptica is such a common and contagious bacteria that no one is safe! Even the cats.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic. Regardless, the bordetella bacteria causing kennel cough and canine infectious tracheobronchitis can also cause respiratory infection in cats.

Can cats get kennel cough? Yes, but cats are less likely to pick up the bacteria simply because cats aren’t usually in the same socializing situations. For example, cats don’t require boarding as often when parents vacation and they sure aren’t begging to go on a play date with their friends at the park.

Pasteurella

Pasteurellosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the Pasteurella bacteria. Pasteurella inhibits the skin, digestive tract, and oral cavity naturally by way of the mouth.

Pasteurella is a common cause of bacterial Pneumonia in cats, as well as the following infections:

  • Ear infections
  • Nasal and sinus infections
  • Eye infections
  • Joint infections
  • Infection of the covering of the spinal cord
  • Brain infection

How is Pasteurella spread?

Pasteurella is transferred from cat to cat via aerosol from:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Bite wounds that may lead to infection

Bite wounds and scratches from an animal with Pasteurella can lead to abscesses and other wound infections.

Signs of local infection of Pasteurella can begin within the first 3 to 6 hours.

Chlamydia Felis

Chlamydia Felis more often causes infection in cats under nine months old. Chlamydia manifests with ocular excretions and conjunctivitis of one or both eyes.

Chlamydia doesn’t survive well outside of the host, so close contact is necessary to transmit the infection among cats.

Viral Pneumonia in Cats

Viral pneumonia in cats
There are a slew of upper respiratory viruses that may cause viral Pneumonia in cats if left untreated.

Top Viral Infections in Cats 

  1. Feline Calicivirus
  2. Feline Coronavirus
  3. Feline Herpesvirus

Feline Calicivirus

Feline Calicivirus is one of the most common causes of upper respiratory infections in domestic and exotic cats. Calicivirus affects the nose and throat.

Signs of Feline Calicivirus

  • Sneezing & congestion
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Ulcers of the tongue, gums, lips, nose, or pallette.

Feline calicivirus is contagious to other cats and is shed for the 14 to 21 days that the infection lingers. Therefore, the virus is often treated symptomatically, treating each symptom as it arises.

Feline Herpesvirus

Feline Herpesvirus Type-1 or Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is another commonly diagnosed virus causing respiratory infection in cats.

Signs of Feline Herpesvirus

  • Rhinitis
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Pneumonia

Calicivirus and Herpesvirus account for about 90% of feline upper respiratory tract infections.

Causes of Pneumonia in Cats

BacterialAspiration or Inhalation Viral Fungal
Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Pasteurella

Chlamydia Felis

Inhalation of:

Liquid meds

Force-feeding with syringe

Regurgitation

Foreign bodies

Feline Calicivirus

Feline Coronavirus

Feline Herpesvirus

Aspergillosis

Candidiasis

Coccidioidomycosis

Cryptococcosis

Histoplasmosis

Mycetomas

North American Blastomycosis

Rhinosporidiosis

Sporotrichosis

Cat Pneumonia Symptoms

Cat pneumonia symptoms
Cat pneumonia symptoms can appear very similar to those of many respiratory diseases, infections, and illnesses. 

Common symptoms of Pneumonia in Cats

  • Rapid breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Nasal discharge
  • Dehydration

When the vet listens to a kitty with Pneumonia with a stethoscope, they may hear indications of fluid in the lungs causing:

  • “Crackles”
  • Wheezing

Treatment for Pneumonia in Cats

Treatment for pneumonia in cats
Home remedies and supportive care are the fundamental keys to recovery from Pneumonia.

However, medical intervention is always necessary to successfully treat Pneumonia in cats.

How to treat Pneumonia in Cats

Let’s now take a look at the 4 different ways to treat Pneumonia in cats:

  1. Cat Pneumonia Antibiotics
  2. IV fluids
  3. Feline Pneumonia Home Remedies
  4. Supportive therapies

Cat Pneumonia Antibiotics

If the initial infection is bacterial, progressing to bacterial Pneumonia, your veterinarian will likely recommend antibiotics. The type of antibiotic used will depend on the susceptibility of the bacteria in question.

For example, Amoxicillin is often used to treat Moraxella, while Penicillin is used for treating Pasteurella. However, your veterinarian needs to let you know what the best avenue of antibacterial treatment is. So please don’t read this article then buy some “antibiotic” on the internet to administer to your cat. Consult your vet!

The most common antibiotics for treating bacterial infections in cats are:

Remember, antibiotics will not treat fungal infections, only bacterial ones.

IV fluids

In some cases of Pneumonia in cats, hospitalization and IV fluids may be necessary for sustaining proper hydration. It’s not as scary as it sounds.

Feline Pneumonia Home Remedies

Cats are a bit more sensitive to smells, oils, and home remedies than dogs, so home remedies revolve around things without many additives.

Home remedies for cats include:

  • Steam therapy
  • Air purifiers and humidifiers
  • Elimination of possible irritants
  • A warm environment

Cats are allergic to many essential oils, so don’t get too fancy with steam therapy and air purifiers. Please keep it simple.

Supportive therapies

Supportive therapies are an essential part of healing and recovery. Supportive therapies include but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining cat’s nutrition
  • Sustaining hydration
  • Preventing secondary infection
  • Keeping your cat as comfortable as possible
  • Cleaning litter pans often
  • Washing water and food bowls often (cats won’t drink dirty water)

Treatment for Pneumonia in Cats

Antibiotics IV Fluids Supportive CareHome Remedies
Doxycycline

Amoxicillin/Clavulanate

Penicillin

Enrofloxacin

IV fluids for dehydrated kitties

Hospitalization and monitoring may be necessary

Maintaining cat’s nutrition

Sustaining hydration

Preventing secondary infection

Keeping your cat as comfortable as possible

Cleaning litter pans often

Washing water and food bowls often

Steam therapy

Air purifiers

Humidifiers

Elimination of possible irritants

A warm environment

What About Isolation?

If a cat is suffering from a contagious virus or bacteria, you will need to isolate them from other felines in the household. Since they are feeling under the weather, this may be easier than one would expect.

Offer a sick kitty a cozy and warm place to rest that is separate from the rest of the animals in the house to avoid transmission. Be sure to leave them plenty of food and water and check on them frequently.

A cat with pneumonia should be encouraged to switch sides often while resting.

When a pet is recovering from any type of Pneumonia, it is necessary to make sure they don’t lay on one side for too long. This can allow fluid to collect on one side more than the other, causing more possible complications.

The prognosis for Pneumonia in Cats

Pronosis for pneumonia in cats
Many of the forms of pneumonia in cats have a good prognosis if treated promptly and appropriately. However, aspiration pneumonia can be tough to keep at bay and may cause complications down the line.

For the most part, the prognosis for pneumonia in cats is good.

Viral, bacterial, and fungal pneumonia can be treated successfully if treated when clinical signs arise. If the infections go untreated the prognosis for pneumonia in cats is the opposite.

Conclusion

Right now, you may be staring lovingly at your favorite feline while your mind runs wild with the anxiety of all of the possible causes of Pneumonia in cats, but don’t stress yourself too much. With proper and prompt treatment, most cats make a full recovery from Pneumonia.

Besides, how would Fluffy get anything past you? With the constant cuddling and affection, do you think you’re going to miss any signs of a possible infection, let alone a progression to Pneumonia? Probably not.

Stay aware and attentive. Being the adoring pet parent you are will eliminate a lot of issues that may arise.