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What are Fluid in the Lungs?

Fluid in the lungs in cats is also referred to as pulmonary edema, which means there is an excess of fluid inside the lungs. If not treated promptly, this can lead to the damage of your cat’s healthy lung tissue.

Your cat’s health depends on his entire body functioning correctly. While most cats do not develop significant medical issues, some develop problems that affect their overall health and wellness. If your cat has developed a condition that has led to an accumulation of fluid in his lungs, it can cause a myriad of symptoms and potentially damage his lungs.

Fluid in the Lungs Average Cost

From 355 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Fluid in the Lungs in Cats

There are certain symptoms you may notice if your cat experiences a buildup of fluid in his lungs. The following are some of the most common symptoms veterinarians see in cats with this condition:

  • Breathing with an open mouth
  • Dry cough
  • Lethargy
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Wheezing or crackling noises when breathing
  • Bluish tint to gums and mucous membranes
  • Chest pains
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Causes of Fluid in the Lungs in Cats

A variety of disorders and diseases can cause your cat to develop fluid in his lungs. Here are some of the most common causes seen in domestic cats:

  • Pneumonia
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis
  • Parasitic infections
  • Viral infections
  • Heart Conditions
  • Tumors
  • Mediastinal lymphoma
  • Feline Leukemia
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Obstruction of the upper airway
  • Heartworms (rare in cats)
  • Bronchitis
  • Feline Asthma
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Diagnosis of Fluid in the Lungs in Cats

Your veterinarian will need some information from you before making a diagnosis. He will ask you questions regarding your cat’s overall health including any unusual occurrences during his birth and if he has been diagnosed with any other health conditions by another doctor. You will also need to let your doctor know when you first noticed symptoms in your cat. Your veterinarian will take vital signs including weight, temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate. In addition, he will draw blood for laboratory tests that may help him make a diagnosis. In veterinary medicine, a CBC or complete blood count and a chemical profile are routinely run. A urine sample will also be taken from your cat and examined. Diagnostic X-rays or an ultrasound may also be performed to help your doctor make a diagnosis. 

In addition to testing, your doctor will examine your cat thoroughly. He will listen to his heart and lungs and evaluate his neurological functions. Your doctor will also evaluate your cat’s overall behavior and mannerisms.

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Treatment of Fluid in the Lungs in Cats

The treatment for fluid in the lungs in cats depends largely upon the cause of the condition. Here is an overview of treatments for some conditions that can cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs:

Asthma

If your cat is diagnosed with asthma, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe an inhaler and corticosteroids. Since asthma is worse if your cat is overweight, your doctor may place him on a diet or on prescription cat food. 

Heartworms

Unlike dogs, heartworm infections are rare in cats but they can happen. If your cat has heartworms that are causing a buildup of fluid, your doctor may treat his symptoms with medications. There are currently no safe heartworm treatments for cats.

Cardiomyopathy

There is no cure for feline cardiomyopathy, but your doctor can help manage your cat’s symptoms. He may prescribe diuretics to help your cat eliminate excess fluids and ACE inhibitors to keep his blood pressure in check. Anti-clotting medications may be administered to prevent blood clots from forming. 

Your doctor may also help stabilize your cat with IV fluids and place him in a chamber with oxygen to help him breathe. In most cases, veterinarians recommend restricting your cat’s activities so he can breathe better. If your cat is struggling to breathe or not stable, your doctor may admit him to the veterinary hospital for medications, treatment and supervision. 

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Recovery of Fluid in the Lungs in Cats

Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to care for your cat during and after treatment. It is important to give your cat his medication exactly as prescribed and follow any instructions regarding diet and overall care. Your veterinarian may want to see your cat every few weeks until he is sure your cat is stable and recovering in the proper manner. Be sure to use these visits to keep your doctor informed about any changes in your cat’s behavior, diet and symptoms. If your cat appears to be recovering and suffers a relapse in symptoms, it is best to report that to your doctor at once so appropriate action can be taken.

If your cat has been diagnosed with cancer or is suffering, your doctor may recommend euthanasia as the best course of treatment. While this is never an easy decision, it may be the most humane thing to do. You may also opt to take your cat home and manage his symptoms with holistic or alternative treatments. Your cat will benefit if you work together with your doctor to discover the cause of fluid in his lungs and treat it accordingly. 

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Fluid in the Lungs Average Cost

From 355 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Fluid in the Lungs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Mia

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Critical severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating
Rapid Breathing

My cat had a tumor on her belly removed. She was put on Clavamox. While taking the meds she stopped eating and then towards the end of the meds she was having trouble breathing. We rushed her to the vet. We thought she was going to die, she was very weak in the car and clearly in distress. The vet put her on oxygen and by the next morning she was eating on her own and her breathing was much better. After about 24 hrs on oxygen they took her off to see how she was on her own and her breathing remained ok. I went to visit her about 24 hrs after she was taken off the oxygen and she was happy but was getting excited and her breathing was getting bad again. They did try to do an X-ray the day we brought her in but it didn’t turn out because she was getting to upset and her breathing was getting very bad again. So we took her on a Thursday morning and the vet says I will probably be able to take her home on Monday. My question is IF the breathing issues were due to an allergic reaction the the antibiotic can just oxygen alone help her to recover from that? If it was fluid in her lungs can she be better and then get worse when all she’s had is oxygen?

Aug. 19, 2018

Mia's Owner

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1 Recommendations

The oxygen is given to help keep the blood oxygenated in times of breathing difficulty, however it should be established what exactly caused the breathing difficulty; however if it was due to a reaction to the antibiotic we would expect to continue to see difficulties if the antibiotic is still being administered. If there were fluid on the lungs, other treatment would generally be required to manage the condition including diuretics; however, your Veterinarian should give you discharge instructions when you take her home. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 19, 2018

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Vivi

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Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Breathing
Acting Normal
Open Mouth Breathing,
Breathing Shallow

My cat, Vivi, is about to turn 4 next month. She is an outdoor/indoor cat, and has had all of her vaccines. I'm the past few weeks, I have noticed when she exerts herself she will start panting. When she is laying down, she breathes shallow and fast. She is acting completely normal, and seems to be in no pain. I've never paid attention to her breathing like this before, so I'm not sure if I'm just being paranoid, but I'm very worried about her. It has been hot out recently, so maybe it could be due to heat exhaustion or something related? I am planning to take her to the vet at the end of the week, but I'm not sure how serious this is since she seems fine in every other way, and has no preexisting conditions. Any ideas?

July 15, 2018

Vivi's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are many different causes for respiratory changes which may include heat exhaustion, without examining Vivi I cannot determine if the changes are something to be concerned about or not; there are many causes apart from heat exhaustion which may cause these symptoms including infections, cancer, lung tumours, liver disease among many other causes. Keep an eye on Vivi and visit your Veterinarian when you can for an examination to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 16, 2018

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Tom

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Mongrel

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13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Fluid Buildup On Lungs

Hello, my cat is currently in the vets suffering from fluid on the lungs which the vet suspects is from heart disease, but they cannot do a scan of his heart to confirm this until Monday which is a great worry. The only medication he is on is 'furosemide' and something for his thyroid. Should he not also be on medication to keep his blood pressure down (like benazepril), or digoxin, or anti-clotting medication, or even beta blockers? I have heard spironolactone or enalapril works well with the furosemide that he's on so why hasn't he been given that? He is eating and is fine in himself so I am really not comfortable with the prospect of putting him down. I've read that 'Corticosteroids' could really help him too. The vets he is with seem to be treating the fluid buildup but not the cause, and couldn't the cause be pneumonia/heartworm/bronchitis seeing as he doesn't have other symptoms of heart failure like blue/grey gums, extreme tiredness etc...it's purely just the fluid buildup. They don't seem willing to give him medication to help his heart pump until the fluid stops building up which I just cannot get my head around because surely trying that is better than not trying it. Thank you so much in advance.

July 14, 2018

Tom's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Different conditions do require different medications, and heart failure is one cause of fluid in the lungs. Furosemide is an emergency medication to clear fluid from the lungs, and is typically quite effective. Since they don't know the cause of the buildup, they are probably hesitant to start treating Tom for all of the possible causes, and getting the fluid out of his lungs will allow him to breathe and survive. I can't comment on what other medications he may need without knowing more about his situation, but it seems that your veterinarian is providing care until they can get further diagnostics and narrow down the cause.

July 14, 2018

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Chacho

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Fluid In Lungs

My cat chacho has had symptoms for about 6 months. About 4 months prior we took him to a vet. 3 x rays performed and explained he had fluid in the lungs. Sent home with antibiotic. Money has been tight not knowing what to do. But meds have finished and he is still the same. He is over weight. Breaths ver heavily. Any thing I can do.

July 9, 2018

Chacho's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

There isn't anything that you can do for fluid in Chacho's lungs at home, unfortunately. Since your veterinarian has seen him, it would be reasonable to call them, let them know that he is still the same after the medications, and they can sometimes use that response to therapy as a clue to try something else to help him. They should have an idea as to what is causing the fluid, and may be able to provide another therapy without costing a lot.

July 10, 2018

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Zenis

dog-breed-icon

Persian

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Severe Breathing

I am wondering what happened as my cat died in one day . He started to breathe very fast - I took him to emergency and they said x ray showed fluid in the lungs . The fluid had blood as well. They took the fluid out and he died after that in few hours. What could be the cause?

June 29, 2018

Zenis' Owner

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0 Recommendations

I understand that this is a distressing time for you, but without performing a necropsy on Zenis I cannot say what the specific cause of death is; it is also important to determine whether the fluid was in the lungs themselves or in the pleural cavity as the causes of vary. I would recommend asking your Veterinarian for a necropsy to get some specific answers. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 30, 2018

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Honey

dog-breed-icon

Mixed breed

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Shallow Breaths, Salivation,

My six-year-old cat suddenly started battling to breath - short quick breaths, and it sounded like she was 'drowning'. We rushed her to our vet and then to an animal ICU where she was put on oxygen and given medication for what they believed was pulmonary edema (?). She stayed in this condition until she passed away of what they say was a heart attack. What I cant understand is how this condition suddenly appeared - overnight, and I cant come to terms with her sudden death. The previous day, she was off her food, but otherwise absolutely normal, following me everywhere, purring and cuddling as normal. Could she have been poisoned by something in our garden?

dog-name-icon

Sprite

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Fluid In Lungs

My cat that I got from a rescue organization 2 weeks ago has fluid in her lung and is at the emergency veterinarian. They had her in an oxygen cage but it didn't help. They are giving her meds to remove the fluid and antibiotics. It has been 6 hours. When should I expect some improvement?

dog-name-icon

Nano

dog-breed-icon

Siamese mixed

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Ckd
Ckd , Anemic
Ckd , Anemic , Colitis
Ckd , Anemic , Colitis .

My cat has chronic kidney disease he had 3.62 creatinine level 3 months ago and he is under subcutaneous fluid treatment and i give him 90 to 100 ml normal saline daily....my question is that can I get him neutered in this condition ? Is it okay to neuter a CKD cat ? Efects of anesthesia on CKD cat? He is 4 years old now and unvaccinated...

dog-name-icon

Digger

dog-breed-icon

MaineCoon

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Heavy Breating

My cat digger is almost 14. For several months he had almost like a weird puking throat clearing noise. mouth was never open, sounded like sneezing or trying to clear throat. Didn’t seem bothered immensely. Took to vet and they said he sounded fine. This past week I noticed him breathing harder, shorter and more shallow. Took to vet and X-ray shoes fluid. They didn’t know if it was asthma and bronchitis or heart related. They prescribed a diuretic and said that if his breathing normalizes, it means he has a heart condition. Could the diuretic Bot also be helping the bronchitis?? Would it be beneficial to still try the steroid and antibiotic route? I’m supposed to call back tomorrow and confirm if his breathing improved with the diuretic (and it has) but does his mean for sure he has a heart issue?!?

dog-name-icon

Charley

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Short Rapid Shallow Breathing
Short Rapid Shallow Breathing, Labo

My male cat Charley, has had kidney problems and was prescribed Sub cutaneous fluids. We think that he now has fluid overload as his breathing has become laboured, slight nasal sound, and movement of his abdomen. He has been like this for 12 hours.....although he still walks a little and is urinating well. Is it likely that this problem will resolve if we hold off more fluids? We are in the middle of rural Thailand, at least 3 and a half hours of twisty mountain roads from the nearest vet. I do not wish to distress him by moving him....he seems more comfortable when relaxed.......and now breathing seems deeper and easier than last night. Any advice would be most helpful...... Thank You.

Fluid in the Lungs Average Cost

From 355 quotes ranging from $500 - $4,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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