Helping Kittens Survive Pneumonia

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Hey guys! So as you might have seen this week, I took in a new kitten named Jumbo Slice and he is diagnosed with pneumonia. Pneumonia is a horrible disease that a lot of people struggle to treat in young kittens, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to make a video about what you can do to avoid pneumonia in kittens and how to care for kittens if they do have pneumonia. Of course before I get started, I just want to say that I’m not a veterinarian. This video is not intended to diagnose or prescribe treatment to your cats. So please go to a veterinarian if you have a cat or kitten with concerning symptoms. The purpose of this video is to educate you about my experiences caring for kittens with pneumonia and to share some tips for other rescuers who encounter this awful illness. So what is pneumonia? Pneumonia is a lung disease that causes respiratory distress and inflammation of the lungs. It can occur for a number of reasons, including when they develop a bacterial or viral infection, which can occur when an upper respiratory infection is untreated and the bacterial or viral agent travels down into the lungs. This is called bacterial pneumonia or viral pneumonia. Pneumonia can also occur when a kitten aspirates or inhales fluid or food particles into the lungs. This is called aspiration pneumonia. When a foreign body is in the lungs, it can cause severe respiratory distress and you might see symptoms like coughing, wheezing, or labored breathing. I will note that sometimes you see no symptoms at all, but the kitten may begin to quickly decline in health with potential symptoms like fever, lack of appetite, pale gums, weight loss, or general lethargy and listlessness. In the past, I’ve seen kittens decline very quickly if untreated. So please, take these symptoms seriously. Okay. So first, let’s talk about prevention. The number one way to prevent viral pneumonia in kittens is to vaccinate your cats and kittens. And to practice safe quarantine so you can protect kittens who are too young to be vaccinated. Make sure you’re keeping all the animals in your care up to date on vaccines, and watch my vaccine video if you’re not sure what you need. You can prevent bacterial pneumonia by acting fast if you see any symptoms of an upper respiratory or bacterial infection. I see a lot of people who wait too long when a kitten has respiratory symptoms like sneezing or nasal discharge. And while you might be able to fight off a cold, a kitten often can’t and it can progress down into the lungs. They should get on an antibiotic right away to prevent the upper respiratory infection from spreading and becoming pneumonia. Now let’s talk about aspiration pneumonia. You can prevent aspiration pneumonia by feeding kittens in a safe and proper posture. The number one way that kittens aspirate is due to caregiver error while bottle or syringe feeding. So make sure you’re watching my instructional videos about feeding so you know how to do it safely. Never squeeze a bottle into the kittens mouth or feed them on their back. You want to feed them in a safe, belly-down posture and let them suckle at their own pace so that no food passes into the trachea by mistake. When that occurs, the food goes down the wrong tube into the lungs and that’s called aspiration. Kittens who have megaesophagus, a torn trachea, or a cleft palate can have a hard time swallowing their food correctly and it can be regurgitated and then aspirated into the lungs. In Jumbo’s case, he’s being treated for an esophageal defect that was causing him to regurgitate, which can make him inhale food. My best guess is that that’s how Jumbo developed pneumonia. Whatever the case, if a kitten develops pneumonia, it’s a serious condition that needs to be treated right away. Speaking from personal experience, I struggled with pneumonia for more than a month. I had to be hospitalized, medicated, given IV fluids, I had to be given oxygen, and I basically had to just rest for weeks. So if I couldn’t survive it without help, you know these little one-pound guys need every bit of help we can give them. Okay, so let’s talk about treatment. There are lots of different treatment methods for pneumonia and what you have to do with your kitten will depend on their symptoms and the severity of their condition. In almost all cases, the kitten will need to be on at least one antibiotic, though I’ve had most success with kittens who were on TWO antibiotics that work together. Usually doxycycline and Clavamox or azithromycin and Clavamox. Again, talk to a veterinarian about the best medication or medications for your cat or kitten. An antibiotic will help fight the bad bacteria in the lungs and stop it from spreading. Another treatment that’s commonly used for kittens with pneumonia is a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a device that changes liquids into a mist so that they can be inhaled into the lungs. These are used commonly in humans with asthma or pneumonia, but they can also be used with kittens. You can buy a nebulizer online for a pretty affordable price. And if you do a lot of rescue work with kittens I do recommend getting one of these to keep on hand for any kittens that have respiratory distress. A nebulizer will have a small cup that you’ll fill with either sterile saline or with a medication that is prescribed by your veterinarian. Sterile saline can do the trick in moderate cases. But in severe cases, you’ll typically want a medicated nebulizer solution prescribed and dosed to your specific kitten. Fill the cup to the fluid line, then close the cup. Now you’re ready to turn the nebulizer on and deliver the breathing therapy to the kitten. You don’t want to do this loose in the room. Obviously you want them to be enclosed so they can breathe in the mist and get all of those benefits. There are two ways you can do this. One: you can put the kitten in their kennel, add the nebulizer, and cover the kennel with a towel. Or two: The way I prefer to do it is with a plastic storage box with no lid then just drape a towel or blanket over the top. Never ever enclose a kitten in a solid box. Always make sure there’s plenty of ventilation so they can breathe. Okay, so next you’ll turn the nebulizer on and sit with the kitten to monitor how they’re doing. The nebulizer solution will be inhaled and will help break up congestion in the lungs. Jumbo here is using a sterile saline, which has been really helpful with his moderate pneumonia. Rescuers usually do nebulizer treatments 2 to 3 times a day for periods of about 8 to 12 minutes at a time until the kitten has recovered. Once you’re done you want to completely clean the reservoir and remove any leftover saline or medication. It’s important to do this so that the kitten is only inhaling sterile products. Another thing you can do with kittens with pneumonia is something called coupage or progression therapy. Coupage is a technique that helps clear secretions from the lungs by gently but firmly tapping at the lungs with your hands. In larger animals this is done with cupped hands like you’re playing a drum, but in kittens you can do it with your fingers. This helps break up the gunk that’s in the lungs and it’s especially effective after a nebulizer session. The final common treatment used with kittens who have pneumonia is oxygen therapy. This is generally for kittens who have a severe case and are not getting enough oxygen. Kittens who aren’t getting enough oxygen may be lethargic or may have pale or blueish gums or lips that show that the kitten does not have adequate oxygen in the bloodstream. In this case, they’re going to need to be on oxygen at a vet clinic. If you do a ton of rescue with young kittens you can also buy an oxygen concentrator to use at home, but exercise caution and only use it as directed by a veterinarian. Last but not least, you want to stay on top of your general nursing care during this time. The kitten may be very weak or struggling to eat, so supported feeding can help. Try lots of different palatable foods and sit with them to help encourage them to get a full meal multiple times a day. I find that when nothing else will do the trick, chicken baby food usually will. You also want to be mindful of their hydration. If the kitten becomes dehydrated, oral or subcutaneous fluids might be warranted, so talk to your veterinarian about this. Finally, make sure they’re nice and warm and have a comfy place to rest. Just let the medication and treatment do their work and get some extra snuggles in with them as they recover. Overall the prognosis for pneumonia in cats tends to be decently good, but the younger and more vulnerable they are, the more at risk they are of a fatality due to this horrible disease. I will share that I’ve had multiple kittens pass away in my care who had pneumonia, so I take this disease really seriously, and I get on top of it right away. I hope that if you encounter pneumonia, you’re able to have success using some of the tips that I gave you in this video. As for Jumbo, he’s on his way to healing and happiness. Jumbo is responding well to all of the treatment and all signs point to a full recovery. Go Jumbo! Wishing you all the best on your rescue adventures and thanks so much for watching. Please remember to subscribe and share if you like what I’m doing and make sure you check out all of the other fun and instructional videos on the Kitten Lady channel. Thanks!

87 thoughts on “Helping Kittens Survive Pneumonia

  1. Hi Hannah! You’ve really inspired me to become a feline foster mother and / of a kitten (or cat) rescuer!
    Keep doing your magic and save some more kittens! (Whoop!)
    You also suit literally every hair colour

  2. Kitten lady, do you get people to pay you to save a kitten? I have a very sick about 4 week old Female kitten. I was wondering if you could help

  3. My cat recently had her kittens!
    I know she can take care of them herself, but we are so fascinated! We don’t touch them, just gentle pats and pets. They are really healthy

  4. Hi~ Question, where in the world do you get oxygen from? I just had a $958 quote for 12 hours of veterinary care. They were only going to nebulize once, they weren't going to do IV fluids, but, kitten was going to get to stay on oxygen, but, without nebulizer that seemed like it would be too drying. Anyhow, now I'm shopping around for my own incubator that can be used with nebulizer and oxygen. It seems easy enough to find the oxygen concentrator, but, a lot more challenging to get the actual oxygen. Is that something where my vet would have to prescribe it? Somehow my 6 week old foster has aspiration pneumonia even though he hasn't been syringe fed in a couple weeks. Goofball must have decided to snorkel in his water bowl.

  5. I am so glad that you mentioned cats can be vaccinated for pneumonia, because I had no idea that's a thing. The vets we've been to have never mentioned it to us. Heck, there's a pneumonia vaccines for humans, and my mom has an auto-immune illness, and her doctor never told her about it! The only reason I knew was because I did a google search on why someone gets pneumonia multiple times in a year, and then saw a post about the vaccine. I'll be getting my cats vaccinated soon.

  6. I've been fostering kittens off and on for years and just lost my first one to pneumonia. It came on so fast that there had to have been something else going on. He was totally fine, playing and gaining weight and then dead 36 hours later. I brought him to the emergency vet and they did oxygen for awhile, but, it didn't seem to make any difference so I took him home and nebulized him and tried to keep him comfortable. They did an xray to confirm the pneumonia. I've never seen anything like it. It makes me so worried that there's some sort of birth defect in the family and that I will have to watch his siblings die. I bottle fed him for a couple weeks, but, he'd been on solid food for over a week before he died. I was shocked that he could get aspiration pneumonia on canned food. :'(

  7. my cat had a cold and got the same thing but she's okay.she's only 2 months old her name is zoey. she's my best friend.she had other friend but one had got hit two week's ago and the other one found a new home and I didn't want to send her a way.

  8. Can you do a video on feline leukemia, a kitten that I had a few years ago died from it and just in case a future cat has it I wanna know how to treat it

  9. Today I just rescue a kitten that it was stuck on some vines in an abandone house nerby, i wait and i wait and i wait for the mommy for couple of hours and she was mia, the kitten was in distress so I untied her and bring her home, she is like a week, i buy for her some formula and a little bottle, she scream alot everytime she is hungry, im scare because I squeezed the bottle ones because I just see this video. Im seeing again all your videos to make sure Im taking care of her right. She did peepie 3 times but no poopy. I rescue her at 12 pm and is 9 am. should I give her pedialite? I have her in a box with a stuff animal and a clock. Im in Puerto Rico so the temperature is 90 degrees.

  10. I have three little kittens they're really cute but we don't know what all is up there eyes are really gross and I think they might all need to go to the bathroom what is the best way to help my three little kittens

  11. This is all such wonderful information. This will undoubtedly save a life! I wish I had known about Kitten Lady when I rescued my first kitten four years ago.

    The very first kitten I rescued was so, so sick- he was a seven week old ginger boy named Pocket. He had a horrific upper respiratory. And when I picked him up from the rescue, they handed me human pill bottles, the label had been peeled mostly off, but I could still read the first name. It was the woman who ran the rescues name. She told me it was a “critical care food additive” that had been prescribed by their vet of preference a name they wouldn’t give me and all I had to do was “squirt a syringe full over his hard food” but as it turns out, they had been stretching medications, adding them all together and making an antibiotic soup to save on veterinary care.

    I took him to my vet immediately. I was prescribed Vetropolycin for his eyes, and I was sent to a specialist pharmacy about an hour from where I live, which had to hand mix a medication that had been cultured specially for him. I ordered a nebulizer, but while I waited for that to come, I would take him in the bathroom, turn the shower on the hottest it could possibly get, let the steam fill the room and I would pat his chest to loosen the gunk. The vet was so appalled at the “critical care mix” and his current condition that she actually turned the rescue into the local authorities.

    My mom ended up adopting that sweet little baby and we renamed him Mowgli. He just turned four last month and he is the most spoiled little thing you could ever meet in your entire life. He still has underlying eye issues from that initial infection- they “run” and he gets awful eye boogies (as we lovingly call them) so he gets “groomed” which is his favorite thing, and he still lays in the bathroom when someone is getting a shower. He is kept on a very specific limited ingredient diet because we also noticed his eyes get worse when we’re less strict with his diet.

    It if you keep at it, there is hope- these little ones will make it. ❤️ I’m just so glad there are people like Hannah (and all of you!) in the world.

  12. I do the same things but with puppies if you want to hear more keep reading

    I have been taking in puppies for as long as 4-5 months the puppies I have and the moment didn’t get any love or snuggles they came from a liter or 8 (I have two puppies a girl and a boy the girl is sailer the boy if pirate) they had just got desexed when I got them.Pirate (the boy) had stitches in his leg as well as the stitches from getting desexed what we do is make sure the stiches and cuts don’t get infected. We take the stiches out one by one at the right times. We snuggle with them play with them making them happy playful dogs. One of the challenges we face is when I dog doesn’t do well with other animals because we always take at least two dogs (we had one dog for over a month because no one wanted her) and me having two of my own dogs make it hard for the dog to not become vicious we make our dogs happy with good personality’s but with dogs that don’t do well with other animals we sometimes have to send them back to the rescue people (my rescue people is called ‘paws crossed’). Pirate has stitches on his leg as well because he got bitten so hard that he and to get stitches. The two puppies are doing amazing and if you want to adopt a pet (dog or cat mainly) then go to their face book called paws crossed (only in Australia)

    I hope that was okay but if you want updates reply to this comment and I will post update son my YouTube channel – Lara

  13. My cat has anemia, his red blood cell count is 12 he’s currently on an antibiotic and steroid. Could you do a video on feline anemia?

  14. I had a 2 month old kitten he was a very active and playful kitten one day there seemed to be something wrong with his neck he could not lift it and he kept lying down he stopped playing and used to sit in one place we took him to the vet he said the kitten has a muscle tear in his neck the docter gave the kitten medication for five days he was okay again one day when I woke up my kitten was on the floor he was struggling to breath ,gasping for air, his lips were blue he could not get up, he had no vocals and he was pissing on the floor. he was very dirty .i got worried we called the vet the stupid guy said, he Is not available and he assured us the kitten would be fine he asked us to give a medicine called himpyrin. half an hour later my kitten screamed and died in front of me i was shocked .we burried him that day after a few days my other cat needed a nail trim so we took him to the same vet he trimmed my cats nails then asked about my kitten we told him it was dead he asked us how it died we told him everything the kitten went through. then the docter sais pnemonia was the cause i wanted to throw a fit as at first he said the kitten would be fine but it was not. And we had also gone for a check up before all this happened he said the kitten was fine .how come he did not recognize the kitten had pnemonia!?.i managed to keep my mouth shut because I am just twelve year old kid

  15. We found a kitten a few days old. Its mother abandoned it. She moved her nest about 10ft away and wouldn't go near the kitten. So we brought him inside. We cleaned him and took him to the vet. He was estimated to be a few weeks old. We had to bottle feed him every few hours every day for a few weeks. He started developing quick and was extremely energetic, intelligent and playful. This past Sunday we noticed at night he didnt want to do much but sleep, the next morning he was back to his normal self. Later that night same thing all he wanted to do was sleep in the later evening hours. During the day he was eating and playing. He had 0 symptoms of a cold or anything else. On the next morning we took him to the vet because he did not want to move. The vet said he had pneumonia and a collapsed lung. He died a few hours later. The vet said he never saw pneumonia set in so quickly and believed there was a health issue at birth. Possibly 1 lung never developed. It made me wonder if the mom knew something was wrong and that's why she left him. I try to find peace in knowing I gave home 3 more months of life.

  16. I just lost one of my rescue fosters to URI/pneumonia last week. He was not a neonate, nor had he shown any symptoms of being sick until two days before passing. He went from normal kitten to very sick in a few days. We had him tested for FIV/FELV, which was negative and had him on antibiotics as soon as we noticed, but by that point he had stopped eating. If you have a cat or kitten that is shy/hiding and have concerns about their health, please keep them where you can monitor them often. Our current fosters were barn cats and he was the last one we'd gotten to socialize with us. 🙁 I've fostered and rescued cats for years and this was a first for me.

  17. Kitten lady ur videos r so sweet and helpful. After watching ur videos and learning about cats I found out how to care for cats so now I have 2 kittens and in the future I want to foster like u do.

  18. Our second young cat that we found outside had a horrible respiratory infection. I rushed him to the vet because he was having such a hard time breathing. He would shoot snot out of his nose! He was also so thin because he was definitely not born an outside cat. But 2 years later he is doing well.

  19. I have 3, 2 week old kitties. One passed away this morning. I buried Picklez. I was force fevers her, but she died in my arm.😒😢

  20. One of my cats eye is irritated, ive been using a warm wash cloth to keep it clean, but my question is there anything else i need to do for him? He is full grown so if anybody has any suggestions please let me know,thank you😥😻

  21. I'm so sad… my indoor cat just gave birth last week… she started sneezing 3 days after she had them. Then all 4 kittens got sick. Took the sickest to the vet and he said URI… he gave fluid therapy and amoxcillan. She died 2 hours after the appt. The other 3 died hours or days after. So so sad. Now mom is just looking around crying.

  22. As much as I thought I knew about rescue, I couldnt save our 3 year old kol from his pneumonia (aspirational). He died in my arms 3 days later. Antibiotics were not enough. He needed oxygen therapy and the 24 hr vet didnt tell me that. I found out after I showed our vet his papers. I have asthma. Knowing he took his last 3 breaths while struggling just kills me. Thank you for this and all your videos. I am truly grateful.

  23. Do you got any video on sterilization? Am from Ecuador and I dont know how to handle when my kitty already goes through this phase were they start crying day and night …. Please help I love my kitty so much and am afraid of sterilization. Xoxo

  24. i saved my kitten and i think he was 3 weeks old i bottle feed him and took him to a good home by my boyfriend i was young and i took the bugs off and every 2 hours or hour i feed him kittin Formula hes big and smart and he is fixed yes he has a best friend name Daisy she our black kitty 1 year old black and white she eats everything hahah i love it she wakes us up in morning like my Alarm so daddy can go to work ❤ i make sure they have toys and a room for themselves i know carzy but i am in love with cats and dogs❤❤❤❤❤ one milo loves baths but the one year old dont so i wipe her with wipes some times i have windows everywhere kitchen living room and they see birds etc i open when do with screen on there they love it my younger one loves plants laying in them now she sleeps high up in the room.or on our bed milo hangs with me and the younger one daddys girl and milo bloth we are the mom and dad❤

  25. Wait.. Is it bad if my kitten sneezes at least once a day? That is the only symptoms.. Is it okay? She is about 4 months old.. Please let her be okay?

  26. Dear Hannah, can you make a video showing us how to measure the dose of antibiotics and other medicines, you use more frecently for kittens? I do have a kitten in a severe respiratory condition (it breaths so hard), and no vet clinic around, so I gave him the half of 50 mg of amoxiclav which I had previously used for adult cats. I didn't know, though, that it should be combined with another antibiotic such as doxiciclin or azithromicin. I have doxiciclin at home but don't know the dose for an adult cat so that I can calculate the dose for kittens. Anybody please help?

  27. My sisters and I sisters have had pneumonia before. My sisters when they were much younger, and me recently. They had the regular type, with all the normal symptoms and me? I had a different type. It was called lobar I think. No symptoms except chest pain. Eventually, it started getting so painful, I couldn't get up, so we went to the doctor. Chest pain is serious, and could also mean something bigger so go get it checked out! Don't wait as I did.

  28. How do you feed a kitten that cannot breathe through her nose?! How do you feed her without her aspirating?! Do they put feeding tubes in 4 week old kittens?!

  29. Thank you so much Hannah! One of the kittens in my cats litter is having this and I was in a state of panic. Took the kitten to the vet and got the medication. Hoping for the best now. Thanks again.

  30. I found a kitten crying in a box she is a week old I have never dealt with a kitten this young before. I am really stressed. I dont know how to deal
    With kittens i ordered the right sized nipple the bigger ones she wont take. The problem with that is she snorted a tad and i worry that it can be harmful if that happens. She has been sneezing every so often since i found her is this something I should worry about? I got her to nibble on my finger so i put drops on hand finger she gets a little that way but not enough so I worry about dehydration and her not getting food. Her mom is a stray But i have been feeding her for a year and gained her trust she came in last night to eat and she nursed her but not enough as she needs. Idk where the stray mama keeps her kittens but just random this kitten was placed in a box with a square cut out of it so someone pit her there and I cant help but wonder why. Any advise? 😞 thank you in advance

  31. I just took on a two-week-old kitten on Tuesday. She and her brother had upper respiratory infection. They were being treated with Clavamox. She was doing so well then she started labored breathing Saturday night and not eating and by the time we could get her to an emergency vet, they determined that her situation was grave and she was euthanized. It was a kindness, in my opinion. I had pneumonia several years ago and I tell you, if euthanasia had been offered at the time to me, I would have gladly agreed to it.

    Pneumonia is bad bad bad.

  32. Sad face i had numona and my kidnys were failing i allmost died so i feel the kiddys pain😢😭😿i had a needle in my back draining flooeds i hope kiddy makes it sad face i pray for kiddy❣🤞🐾🐾🐾🐾🐾

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