A fungal infection can leave your kitty feeling sick, itchy and uncomfortable, but it's important to note that some of these infections can also be spread to people who come in contact with your cat. Today, our Tucson vets discuss the causes and symptoms of fungal infections in cats and how they can be treated.
Fungal Infections in Cats
Fungi (funguses) survive by feeding on their hosts. In cats, parasitic organisms produce spores that can cause infections and negatively impact your cat's health.
Many fungi originate in soil, where they lie in wait for cats and other animals to inhale or ingest them. They can also find their way in through the skin (via a cut, wound or other open sore).
If your cat has been exposed to an animal that is infected with fungi or has come into contact with an infected animal's feces, they may also be at increased risk.
Although some fungal infections can lead to disease in healthy animals, others prey on hosts that are suffering with compromised immune systems, or those who are ill or weak, in order to establish infection. Cats taking immunosuppressive medications or antibiotis over a long period of time appear to be more vulnerable to fungal infections.
Respiratory & Skin Fungal Infections in Cats
While many different types of fungi in the environment can negatively impact your cat’s health, we see some infections more often than others. Here are some of the fungal infections we typically see in cats:
- North American Blastomycosis
These infections may be concentrated in one area, or spread throughout the entire body. Though general fungal infections are rare, fungal skin infections in cats are more common.
Symptoms of Fungal Infection in Cats
Symptoms are often determined by the type of fungal infection a cat has. These are common symptoms our vets typically see in cats with the types of infections listed above:
- Loss of appetite
- Eye problems
- Lung infections
- Skin lesions
- Weight loss
- Intolerance to physical activity
- Bladder infections
- Difficulty breathing
- Bloody discharge from nose
- Cysts beneath the skin
- Swelling under the bridge of the nose
Diagnosis & Treatment of Fungal Infections in Cats
Because some fungal infections are rare, they can be difficult to diagnose. You can help your vet by knowing your cat’s medical history and being prepared to answer questions such as when your pet began to display symptoms of infection.
At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson, our veterinarians have years of experience in diagnosing and treating internal conditions and our specialist vets are able to provide advanced diagnosis and treatment of dermatological conditions. We can perform a thorough physical examination of your feline friend and take blood samples to be analyzed in our in-house diagnostic lab.
From there, we can use advanced tools and technology to make a definitive diagnosis and provide treatment recommendations based on a comprehensive assessment of your cat’s health issues.
A complete blood count (CBC), chemical blood profile and urinalysis will help your vet identify what’s causing your kitty’s symptoms. In some cases, a tissue sample may be taken to assist in diagnosis. Your cat will typically be anesthetized for these tests. The tissue sample will be taken during surgery, then analyzed in our lab.
Depending on which type of fungi is causing your pet’s symptoms, your vet may present different options for treatment, such as hospitalization if the fungus is transmittable to humans. This will help reduce the risk of you or your family becoming infected.
If your cat will be staying at your home, your vet may provide instructions on how to prevent infections - including wearing gloves and a mask when handling your cat or changing litter.
The vet may be able to remove any skin lesions and prescribe topical ointments to help treat the infection. If required, any secondary infections will also be treated with medications or IV fluids. Keep in mind that several weeks of treatment may be needed before your cat’s health issues improve.
Recovery & Prognosis
Your cat’s prognosis will be determined by the type of fungal infection he or she has contracted. While prescription medication can help to clear some infections, others may have long-term health impacts or even lead to severe neurological symptoms (for example, North American Blastomycosis can cause these).
To help your cat recover, it’s critical to attend all follow-up appointments so your cat’s recovery can be assessed. Your vet will check to see that no relapses have happened and make changes to medication if required. Report any changes in your cat’s appearance or behavior 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.