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Fungal Infections in Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Fungal infections in cats can cause a wide range of alarming symptoms - and leave people and animals in danger of infection. Our Flat Rock vets explain causes, symptoms and treatment for these conditions.

Fungal Infections in Cats

Fungi (funguses) in cats are parasitic organisms that produce spores. They feed on hosts to obtain nourishment. Though many fungi species exist in the environment, only some will cause infections.

Soil is the primary source of most fungi and cats can acquire these infections by ingesting or inhaling them, or through the skin (through a wound or cut, for example).

Your cat can also be at increased risk if they’ve been exposed to animals with an existing fungal infection, or come into contact with their feces.

Though some fungal infections can cause disease in otherwise healthy animals, others seek hosts who have compromised immune systems, or who are weak or sick, so infection can be established. Cats who are provided antibiotic drugs or immunosuppressive agents long-term appear to be more susceptible to fungal infections.

Common Fungal Infections in Cats

While your cat’s health can be impacted by many different types of fungi in the environment, there are some infections we see more than others. Here are some of the most commonly seen fungal infections in cats:

  • Aspergillosis
  • Candidiasis
  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Mycetomas
  • North American Blastomycosis
  • Rhinosporidiosis
  • Sporotrichosis
  • Phaeohyphomycosis

These infections may infect the entire body or be focused in one area. Fungal skin infection in cats are common, while general fungal infections are rare.

Symptoms of Fungal Infection in Cats

The type of infection will often determine which symptoms of fungal infection your cat displays. Here are some common symptoms we often see in kitties with these types of infections:

  • Bloody discharge from the nose
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling under the bridge of the nose
  • Circling
  • Cough
  • Cysts underneath the skin
  • Anemia
  • Blindness
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Eye problems
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lung infections
  • Bladder infections
  • Paralysis
  • Intolerance to physical activity
  • Weight loss
  • Skin lesions
  • Seizures

Diagnosis & Treatment of Fungal Infections in Cats

Some fungal infections are not always easy to diagnose, as they are rare. When you visit your vet, it’s helpful to know your cat’s medical history and when the symptoms of infection started to appear. The vet will perform a complete physical exam and take blood for laboratory tests.

The vets at Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital & Veterinary Emergency Hospital have years of experience in diagnosing and treating internal conditions. We make diagnoses and treatment recommendations based on a comprehensive assessment of your pet’s health issues.

A CBC, or complete blood count, urinalysis and chemical blood profile will help reveal the cause of your cat’s symptoms. In some cases, the vet may take a tissue sample to assist in diagnosis.

Usually, your cat will be anesthetized for this and the tissue sample would be taken during surgery, then analyzed in our in-house lab. Our advanced tools and technology at Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital & Veterinary Emergency Hospital help us provide quick, accurate diagnoses for medical conditions.

As for treatment, depending on the type of fungi causing the issue, your vet may take different measures such as hospitalization (if the fungus is transmittable to humans) to reduce the risk of infection to you and your family.

If you choose to keep your cat at home, you may receive instructions on how to prevent infections - including wearing gloves and a mask while handling your cat, and when changing litter.

Topical ointments can often be used to treat fungal skin infection in cats, while the vet may be able to remove skin lesions. Any secondary infections will also be addressed with IV fluids and/or medications, if required. It may take several weeks of treatment before you see improvement.

Recovery of Fungal Infection in Cats

The type of fungal infection will determine your cat’s prognosis. While some can be cleared up with medication, others can have long-term health effects or even cause severe neurological symptoms (in the case of serious infections such as North American Blastomycosis).

It’s imperative to attend all follow-up appointments so your veterinarian can assess your cat’s recovery and ensure no relapses have occurred. Medication may change if required. Report any changes in your cat’s behavior or appearance immediately.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat displaying signs of a fungal infection? Our Flat Rock vets are experienced in diagnosing a number of conditions and illnesses. Contact our office today to book an appointment.

Fungal Infections in Cats, Flat Rock Vet

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