Fungal infections can have a major impact on the overall health of your feline friend. In today's post, our West Salem vets explain some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments for fungal infection in cats.
Most fungi originate in soil, where they end up inhaled or ingested by cats and other animals. Parasitic fungal organisms can also find their way into your pet through the skin (via a cut, wound, or other open sores), 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 Fungal Infections in Cats
Although there are many different types of fungi in the environment that can negatively impact your cat’s health, here are some of the more common fungal infections in cats:
- North American Blastomycosis
These infections can be concentrated in a specific part of your cat's body or spread throughout the entire body (generalized infections). Though generalized fungal infections are fairly rare in cats, fungal skin infections are quite common.
Symptoms 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 our vets see in cats with the types of infections listed above:
- Lung infections/difficulty breathing/coughing
- Loss of appetite
- Bladder infections
- Skin lesions
- Weight loss
- Intolerance to physical activity
- Blindness/eye problems
- Swelling under the bridge of the nose
- Bloody discharge from nose
- Cysts beneath the skin
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 cat'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 and where your cat has been.
Your vet will require to run some tests to diagnose the cause of the illness. These tests can include a complete blood count (CBC), chemical blood profile, urinalysis, and, 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 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 cat will be staying at home, your vet may provide instructions on how to prevent infections from transmitting to others - 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. If necessary, any secondary infections will also be treated with medications or IV fluids. 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 cat’s health issues begin to show significant improvement.
The prognosis for your feline friend will be determined by the type of fungal infection they have 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 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.