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Fungal Infections in Cats: Skin, Ears, and Nose

Fungal diseases in cats not only make them uncomfortable, they can also have a major impact on the overall health of your feline friend. In today's post, our Orange Park vets explain some of the causes, symptoms, and treatments for fungal infection in cats.

Fungal Infections

Most fungi grow in soil and wait for cats and other animals to inhale or ingest them. Parasitic fungal organisms can also enter your pet through the skin (via a cut, wound, or other open sore) or through direct contact with an infected animal or the feces of an infected animal.

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 of time.

Common Fungal Infections in Cats

Although there are many different types of fungi in the environment that can harm your cat's health, some infections are more common than others, according to our Orange Park vets. Some of the fungal infections we see in cats are as follows:

  • 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 cats, fungal skin infections are quite common.

Signs of Fungal Infection in Cats

The type of fungal infection that your cat has contracted will determine the signs of infection that he or she displays. The following are some of the most common symptoms our veterinarians see in cats with the infections listed above:

  • Lung infections
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Eye problems
  • Seizures
  • Bladder infections
  • Skin lesions
  • Weight loss
  • Paralysis
  • Intolerance of 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

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

Your veterinarian may be able to treat the infection by removing any skin lesions and prescribing topical ointments. Any secondary infections will be treated with medications or IV fluids if necessary. Fungal infections can be difficult to treat, so keep in mind that several weeks of treatment may be required before your kitty's health issues begin to improve significantly.

Recovery & Prognosis

The type of fungal infection that your cat has contracted will determine his or her prognosis. Although some prescription medications can help clear infections, others can have long-term health consequences or even cause 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.

If your cat requires advanced care for a fungal infection, contact us to find out how your feline friend can be seen by our veterinary specialists.

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