Bacterial Pneumonia in Cats

Bacterial Pneumonia in Cats

Health & Safety

Just like with people, cats too can develop pneumonia and it happens when bacteria enters their lungs causing inflammation. The inflammation negatively impacts a cat's lungs, their airways and parts of the airways where both carbon and oxygen are interchanged. If a cat's condition is diagnosed early enough and treated correctly, the prognosis for their recovery tends to be good, but should a cat develop secondary problems, their treatment becomes a lot more challenging when they suffer from bacterial pneumonia.

The causes

There could be several reasons why a cat develops bacterial pneumonia and it's worth noting that no one single type of bacteria could cause a cat to suffer from the condition. With this said, the most common forms of bacteria that cause bacterial pneumonia in cats are as follows:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Pasteurella
  • Moraxella

It's also worth noting that cats are less likely to suffer from bacterial pneumonia than their canine counterparts. However, studies have also established that cats tend to be more predisposed to developing the condition if they are suffering from certain other health issues which are as follows:

  • Viral infections
  • A difficulty swallowing
  • Metabolic health issues
  • Regurgitation

Symptoms to watch out for

When cats start to develop bacterial pneumonia, they show certain signs of there being something wrong with them which includes the following symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
  • A loss of appetite
  • Weight loss and loss of condition
  • Lethargy
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Dehydration
  • A faster rate of breathing
  • An intolerance to exercise
  • Wheezing

Diagnosing the problem

A vet would ideally need to know a cat's full medical history and how the onset of any symptoms first presented themselves. They would also want to rule out whether a cat is suffering from aspiration pneumonia rather than bacterial pneumonia because the symptoms are very similar, but treatments would be rather different.

The sort of tests a vet would recommend carrying out to confirm a diagnosis could include the following:

  • A tracheal wash which would be to collect fluids and cells that would be analysed
  • X-rays of a cat's chest and lungs
  • Blood tests
  • Urine analysis

Treatment options

Once a vet has confirmed a cat is suffering from bacterial pneumonia they would prescribe specific antimicrobial drugs to treat the symptoms. If a cat's condition is deemed severe, the vet might want to keep them hospitalised so they can be closely monitored and given vital fluids if they have become severely dehydrated. Should a cat be experiencing difficulty breathing, they may also need to be given oxygen until they can breathe on their own again.

Once a cat is allowed to go home, they need to be kept quiet and any exercise should be restricted. It's also a good idea to keep them away from any other pets in the home until they are fully recovered. It's important for cats to move, but not too much and it's also crucial that they do not lie on one side for too long which could lead to a build-up of damaging fluids. As such, owners need to make sure their pets are regularly and gently turned every 2 hours or so.


As previously mentioned, if a cat is diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion the prognosis for a full recovery is good. However, if there are any complications associated with the condition, it can prove fatal if not caught early enough. As such, the sooner a cat is treated for bacterial pneumonia the better their chances are of making a full recovery.



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