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Fungal Infections in Cats: Everything You Should Know

Fungal infections can be a significant health concern for cats. In some cases, these infections can also be transmitted to humans and other pets in the household. Our veterinarians in Portland explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments for fungal infections in cats.

Fungal Infection in Cats

Fungi, also known as funguses, that cause cat infections generally exist in the soil. These can enter the cat's body through open cuts or scrapes or can be inhaled or ingested. Once these parasitic organisms enter your cat's body, they can grow and produce spores, resulting in infections that can be limited to a specific area or spread throughout the entire body.

The most commonly observed fungal infections in cats by our veterinarians include skin infections such as ringworm, while generalized fungal infections are rare. Although some fungi can cause illness in healthy cats, most fungal infections are seen in sick, immunocompromised cats, very young or very old.

Depending on the type of fungus, these infections can be contagious between cats or even between cats and humans 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 can occur in specific parts of their body, such as the nose and nasal passages, lungs (which can cause fungal pneumonia), or skin. However, these infections can also spread throughout the entire body, resulting in more generalized symptoms.

Signs That Your Cat May Have a Fungal Infection

If your cat has a fungal infection, its symptoms will depend on the type of fungus causing the infection. Below are some of the most common symptoms of fungal infections.

  • 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 

It can be difficult to diagnose fungal infections in cats due to the large number of fungi found in North America and the fact that many types of fungal infections are rare or regional. At Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians have access to lab and diagnostic technology to aid in diagnosing and treating cats with internal conditions, including fungal infections.

If your cat is exhibiting symptoms of a fungal infection, your vet will review your cat's medical history with you and perform a comprehensive physical examination. If a fungal infection is suspected, your vet may recommend one or more diagnostic tests to determine the type of fungus causing the infection and the best treatment plan 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

The treatment for your cat's fungal infection will depend on the type of infection and your cat's symptoms. Your cat's infection can be cured with oral or topical antifungal medications. If your cat has fungal skin infections, your veterinarian may remove the lesions and treat them with topical ointments or medicated shampoos. Any secondary infections will be treated with medications or IV fluids if necessary. 

In some cases, your cat may need to be hospitalized to reduce the risk of humans becoming infected if the fungus is transmittable. If you decide to treat your cat at home, your veterinarian will provide instructions on preventing infections from spreading. These instructions may include wearing gloves and a mask when changing litter, handling your cat, and frequently washing your pet's bedding, food bowls, and toys.

Recovery & Prognosis for Cats With Fungal Infections

The prognosis of your cat's health condition caused by a fungal infection will depend on the type of infection, your cat's age, and overall health. While some fungal infections can be treated with prescription medication, others may impact your cat's health long-term. 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, please get in touch with our vets in Portland today to ask for an appointment or bring your kitty to our emergency animal hospital for urgent care. 

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Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Portland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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