Cats & Fungal Infections
Fungi (funguses) are parasitic, spore-producing organisms that feed on hosts to nourish themselves. While many fungi species exist naturally in the environment, only some will cause infections.
Soil is the main source of most fungi, and cats can get fungal infections by ingesting or inhaling spores. Sometimes, the spores enter the body through the skin (via a cut or wound, for example).
Your cat may also be at increased risk if they've been around animals with an existing fungal infection, or have come into contact with their feces.
Though some fungal infections can lead to disease in otherwise healthy pets, others look for hosts who have compromised immune systems, or who are sick or weak, so infection can be established. Cats who are given antibiotic drugs or immunosuppressive agents long-term appear to be more vulnerable to fungal infections.
Common Fungal Infections in Cats
While different types of fungi in the environment can impact your cat's health, we tend to see some infections more than others. Here are some of the most commonly seen fungal infections in cats:
- North American Blastomycosis
These infections may infect the entire body or be concentrated in one area. Though general fungal infections in cats are rare, fungal skin infections are common.
Signs of Fungal Infection in Cats
The type of infection your cat has will often determine which symptoms of fungal infection will appear. Here are some common symptoms we often see in cats with these types of infections:
- Bloody discharge from the nose
- Circling Sneezing
- Cysts underneath the skin
- Eye problems
- Difficulty breathing
- Intolerance to physical activity
- Swelling under the bridge of the nose
- Loss of appetite
- Lung infections
- Bladder infections
- Weight loss
- Skin lesions
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.
Our board-certified veterinary dermatologist at Columbia River Veterinary Specialists diagnoses and treats skin and dermatological conditions. Our veterinary specialists take a comprehensive, team-based approach to your pet's healthcare. We work with not only your veterinarian, but also other specialists to provide the best possible care for your pet.
Diagnoses and treatment recommendations are made based on a thorough 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 Columbia River Veterinary Specialists 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 to treat your cat, 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.