Is your cat coughing, wheezing and producing nasty-looking snot from her nose? It’s not a run-of-the-mill cold as we might think of it. Cats can be prone to respiratory problems. If they go unrecognized or untreated, the result can be a bad case of pneumonia.

Yes, cats can get pneumonia. If you’ve ever had this inflammation of the lungs, you know just how unpleasant it can be.

Pneumonia tends to be uncommon in healthy adult cats, but kittens and senior cats may be at risk. That’s because young kittens and older cats tend to have a less effective immune system to fight off body invaders.

Causes of Pneumonia

Feline pneumonia can have several possible causes including bacterial, viral or fungal organisms. For instance, Mycoplasma bacteria, calicivirus and cryptococcal fungi are all potential culprits. The protozoal parasite toxoplasmosis (T. gondii) can also cause pneumonia if it makes its way to the lungs. If these foreign organisms sneak into the nostrils or trachea, they can cause inflammation or infection that then continues on to the lungs. Fluid, pus and cellular debris can build up in the lungs, resulting in pneumonia.

Pneumonia can also occur when cats aspirate, or accidentally suck in fluid, vomit or some substance that irritates the respiratory tract. That can be something as tiny and seemingly harmless as a seed.

Some cases of pneumonia are complicated by multiple invading organisms. A virus or fungus can do the initial damage, weakening the cat so that a secondary bacterial infection takes hold.

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