Fungal Infections in Cats - Types, Causes & Treatments

Fungal infections can pose a serious health threat for our feline friends. In some cases, your cat's fungal infection could even be passed along to you and your family as well as other pets in the household. Our Ventura vets explain some causes, symptoms and treatments for fungal infection in cats.

Fungal Infection in Cats

Fungi (funguses) which lead to infections in cats typically live in the soil where they can be inhaled, ingested, or find their way into an animal's body through open cuts or scrapes. Once these parasitic organisms find their way into your kitty's body, they are able to thrive and produce spores, often causing localized infections or even infections that spread throughout your pet's body.

The most common fungal infections our Ventura vets see in cats are skin infections (such as ringworm), while generalized fungal infections tend to be rare. Although some fungi can cause illness in healthy cats, it is generally the case that most fungal infections are seen in cats that are sick, immunocompromised, very young or very old.

Depending upon the type of fungus, these infections can be contagious between cats or even between cats and people who spend time with them.

Types of Fungal Infections Seen in Cats

There are a number of fungi in the environment that can negatively impact your cat’s health, however, we see some types of infections more often than others. Below are some of the fungal infections that we most often see in cats:

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

Fungal infections in cats may be concentrated in one area such as the nose and nasal passages, lungs (often leading to fungal pneumonia in cats), or skin but they can also spread throughout the animal's body leading to more generalized symptoms. 

Signs That Your Cat May Have a Fungal Infection

If your cat has a fungal infection the symptoms they display will be determined by the type of fungus causing the infection. Below are some of the most common symptoms of the fungal infections listed above.

  • Poor appetite
  • High fever
  • Eye infections
  • Seizures
  • Lung infections
  • Skin lesions
  • Weight loss
  • Paralysis
  • Lack of energy
  • Bladder infections
  • Blindness
  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Bloody discharge from nose
  • Cysts
  • Persistent cough
  • Circling
  • Swelling under the bridge of the nose

How Vets Diagnose Cat Fungal Infections 

Due to the vast number fungi found in North America, and because many types of fungal infections are more regional or rare, these infections can be challenging to diagnose. 

At Veterinary Medical And Surgical Group (VMSG) in Orange County, our veterinarians can utilize our state of the art lab and diagnostic technology when in diagnosing and treating cats with internal conditions such as fungal infections.

If your cat is showing symptoms of a fungal infection your vet will run through your cat's medical history with you then perform a thorough physical examination. If a fungal infection is suspected your vet may recommend one or more of the following in order to determine the type of fungus causing the infection, and the best treatment for your cat: 

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Chemical blood profile
  • Urinalysis to check kidney function and look for other signs of an internal fungal infection
  • Tissue samples taken for analysis

Treating Fungal Infections in Cats

Treatment for your cat's fungal infection will depend upon your cat's symptoms and the type of infection being treated.

Your cat's infection may be treated with oral or topical antifungal medications. Fungal skin infections in cats can cause lesions that may be removed by your vet and/or treated with topical ointments, or medicated shampoos. When required, any secondary infections will also be treated with medications or IV fluids. 

Treatment options may include keeping your cat hospitalized in order to reduce the risk of family members becoming infected if the fungus is transmittable to humans.

If you will be treating your cat at home, your vet will provide instructions on how to prevent infections from spreading such as wearing gloves and a mask when changing litter or handling your cat, and washing your pet's bedding, food bowls, and toys frequently.

Recovery & Prognosis for Cats With Fungal Infections

Your cat’s prognosis will be determined by the type of fungal infection as well as your cat's age and overall health. While prescription medication can help to clear some fungal infections, others may have long-term health impacts or in the case of North American Blastomycosis severe neurological symptoms may occur.

When treating fungal infections in cats it can take several weeks to see notable health improvements. To help your cat recover, be sure to attend all follow-up appointments so your pet’s recovery can be assessed. Your veterinarian will examine your cat for signs of relapse and make changes to medication if required.

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.

If your cat is showing signs of a fungal infection, our team can help. Contact our team of veterinary specialists today to ask about referrals and treatments, or bring your kitty to our emergency animal hospital for urgent care. 

How to tell if your cat could have a fungal infection, Ventura Animal Hospital

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