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Cat Fungal Infections - Types, Symptoms & Treatment

Fungal infections can lead to some very uncomfortable symptoms for your cat but luckily, these conditions are treatable. Today's blog looks at some common causes, symptoms, and treatments for fungal infections in cats.

Fungal Infections & Your Feline Friend

Most fungi originate in soil, where they lie waiting for cats and other animals to inhale or ingest. Parasitic fungal organisms can also find their way into your pet through the skin (via a cut, wound, or another open sore), or through direct contact with an infected animal or an infected animal's feces.

Health problems and various complications associated with fungal infections typically occur in cats with compromised immune systems or those that are ill, weak, or have been taking immunosuppressive agents or antibiotic drugs over long periods.

Common Cat Fungus Infections

Although there are numerous varieties of fungi in the environment that can have a negative impact on your cat’s health, our Tucson vets see some infections more often than others. Here are some of the fungal infections veterinarians see in cats:

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

These infections can be concentrated in a specific part of your kitty's body or spread throughout the entire body (generalized infections). Though generalized fungal infections are fairly rare in feline friends, fungal skin infections are quite common.

Signs of Fungal Infection in Cats

The signs of infection that your cat displays will be determined by the type of fungal infection your kitty has contracted. Below are some common symptoms associated with feline fungal infections:

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

Skin Fungal Infections Seen in Cats

One of the most common fungal skin infections seen in cats is ringworm, although the name is misleading. Ringworm is not caused by a worm, rather it is a fungus that gets into and negatively impacts your cat's skin, fur and, in some cases, nails. 

Signs of ringworm include bald patches, red scaley skin and itchiness. This fungal infection often affects cats that are very young or immunocompromised, and can be very challenging to get rid of.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Fungal Infections in Cats

Because some fungal infections are rare or regional, they can be difficult to diagnose. You can help your vet to pinpoint the fungus responsible for your kitty's symptoms by knowing your cat’s medical history and being prepared to answer questions such as when your pet began to display symptoms of infection.

A complete blood count (CBC), chemical blood profile, and urinalysis may 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 a diagnostics lab.

Depending on the type of fungi that is causing your cat’s symptoms, your veterinarian 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 with the disease.

If your kitty will be staying at home, your vet may provide instructions on how to prevent the spread of infections - including wearing gloves and a mask when handling your cat or changing their litter.

Your vet may be able to remove any skin lesions and prescribe topical ointments to help treat the infection. Any secondary infections will likely be treated with medications or IV fluids if necessary. Fungal infections can be challenging to treat so it's important to keep in mind that several weeks of treatment may be needed before your kitty’s health issues begin to show significant improvement.

Recovery & Prognosis of Fungal Infections in Cats

The prognosis for your feline friend will be determined by the type of fungal infection your kitty has contracted. Although 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 feline friend's recovery can be assessed. Your vet will check to see that no relapses have happened and make changes to medication if required. Be sure to report any changes in your cat’s appearance or behavior to your vet 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.

At Veterinary Specialty Center of Tucson we provide specialist and emergency care for pets in need. Contact our Tucson vets if your cat needs emergency or specialist care.

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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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