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Cat Fungal Infections - A Pet Parent's Guide

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's post explores common causes and symptoms of fungal infections in cats and how they might 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 risk.

Although some fungal infections can lead to disease in healthy animals, others prey on hosts that are suffering from compromised immune systems, or those who are ill or weak, in order to establish infection. Cats taking immunosuppressive medications or antibiotics 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 see in cats:

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

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. Below are some of the symptoms of fungal infections commonly seen by vets:

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

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your feline friend and may take blood samples or recommend urinalysis to help pinpoint the precise cause of your cat'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 and the severity of their condition. 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.

Is your cat showing symptoms or behaviors that give you cause for concern? Our emergency and specialist vets are here to help. Contact our Tucson vets.

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Our board-certified critical care specialists and skilled emergency veterinarians are here for you and your pet. If your dog or cat needs emergency care, get in touch with us right away.

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