Pneumonia in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

Pneumonia, or pneumonia, is an inflammatory condition of the lungs.

There can be several reasons why a cat gets pneumonia, but often it is a consequence of an underlying disease paving the way for bacterial infection. Therefore, it is important to look for the underlying cause so that it can be treated at the same time as the pneumonia.


Symptoms of pneumonia include:

  • Strained breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nose flow
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Impaired appetite
  • Reduced activity level


There are a number of diseases that cause similar symptoms as pneumonia and to differentiate them, different tests need to be done. The most important examination is an X-ray of the lungs, often supplemented with blood tests and sometimes urine tests.

It is rarely a bacterial infection that is the primary cause of pneumonia, but it is usually a secondary bacterial infection that has taken root when the airways and lungs’ defenses are impaired for some other reason.

For example, viral infection, fungal infection or inhalation of foreign material can pave the way for bacterial infection.

Sometimes the veterinarian wants to rule out diseases that weaken the cat’s immune system, such as FIV or FeLV. In cats with these diseases, pneumonia can be difficult to overcome.


Pneumonia usually needs to be treated. In mild cases, the treatment can be given at home, but if the cat is very ill, it may need to be admitted for care. Treatment often includes analgesic and anti-inflammatory treatment, antibiotics and sometimes oxygen therapy as well as drip.

In animal hospitals, the cat can receive medication directly in the blood vessels, and can be placed in a special room with extra oxygen and higher humidity, which helps to dissolve mucus in the airways. When the mucus dissolves, breathing improves.

If the treatment does not have the expected effect, it may be because the bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. To find out what bacteria are and what antibiotics they are sensitive to, it may be necessary to do a bacterial culture.

Then a sample needs to be taken from the lower respiratory tract using a small plastic tube that is passed down the throat.

This is done during sedation (sedative medication) or light anesthesia.


The prognosis for recovery depends on how sick the cat is and what is the underlying cause of the pneumonia.

If the inflammation is detected and treated in time, and the right antibiotics are used for the bacterial infection, the prognosis is good provided that the underlying cause is detected and treated at the same time.

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