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!