What is Fungal Infection?
Your cat can become infected three ways. The fungi can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Fungal infections of the skin are more common in felines than generalized infections.
Fungal infections can affect cats as well as humans, and though there is a wide variety of fungi that exist in the environment, not all of them can affect your cat’s health. The first case of fungal infections in felines was reported in the early 1950s. These types of infections can make your cat very sick and in some cases, they can be life-threatening.
Symptoms of Fungal Infection in Cats
The symptoms associated with fungal infections in cats depend on the type of infection. Here are some of the most common symptoms seen in felines with these types of infections:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Lesions on the skin
- Eye problems
- Lung infections
- Bladder infections
- Cysts underneath the skin
- Bloody discharge in the nose
- Swelling under the bridge of the nose
- Intolerance to physical activity
While there are many different types of fungi in the environment that can affect your cat’s health, some are more often seen than others. Below is a list of some of the most commonly seen fungal infections in domestic cats:
- North American Blastomycosis
Causes of Fungal Infection in Cats
Disease-causing fungi exist in many different areas of the environment. Your cat can come into contact with them in a variety of ways. The following is a list of some of the most common causes of fungal infections:
- Exposure to animals with an existing fungal infection
- Cats that have immunosuppressive diseases are at greater risk of fungal infections
- Wounds on the skin provide a gateway for fungi
- Exposure to fungi in the soil
- Inhaling fungi
- Exposure to fungi in the feces of infected animals
Diagnosis of Fungal Infection in Cats
Since some fungal infections are rare, it is not always easy to diagnose them. Your veterinarian will begin by asking you some questions about your cat’s health. Be sure to include any pertinent information such as the date of symptom onset and any pre-existing medical conditions your cat may have. Your doctor will examine your cat and draw blood for laboratory tests. A complete blood count or CBC, chemical blood profile and a urinalysis will be performed.
In some cases, your doctor may want to take a tissue sample to obtain a diagnosis. This is typically done during surgery, while your cat is under anesthesia. The tissue sample is sent to a laboratory for diagnosis.
Treatment of Fungal Infection in Cats
The treatment of fungal infections in felines depends on the type of fungi causing the problem. Your doctor may hospitalize your cat if he finds an infection that can be transmitted to humans. This is done to reduce the risk of infection to the owner. If you take your cat home, your doctor may instruct you on how to prevent infection. This usually includes wearing gloves and a mask when handling your cat and while changing cat litter.
Fungal infections of the skin are often treated with topical ointments and anti-fungal medications. If your cat has lesions on the skin or inside his nose, your doctor may remove them. In some cases, secondary infections accompany fungi, so your doctor will address these as necessary with medications and IV fluids if necessary. Treatment for fungal infections can take several weeks before improvement is seen.
Recovery of Fungal Infection in Cats
The overall outlook for your cat will depend on the type of fungal infection he has. Some infections clear up with medication, while others can have long-lasting health effects. To prevent recurrent infection and reduce the risk to yourself and other animals in your household, it is important to determine the source of fungi if possible.
After your cat’s initial treatment, your doctor will want to examine your cat every 2 weeks for a period of time. It is important to attend all follow-up appointments to be sure your cat is not having a relapse. If your cat is on medication, your doctor may perform tests to check his liver enzymes. He may also change your cat’s medicine if no improvement is seen in a month or so. It is important to report any changes in your cat’s appearance or behavior to your doctor promptly.
There are some fungal infections that can make your cat very sick. These infections can require long-term medications that can become expensive. Certain infections can cause lesions to develop and return even after surgical intervention. Some serious fungal infections such as North American Blastomycosis can cause severe neurological symptoms. In these cases, your doctor may recommend euthanasia as the best course of treatment. Although rare, this infection can also cause sudden death in cats.
Fungal Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My Neutered Tom cat is 13 Years old, two years ago he had fungal infections on his Head and a very large fungal granuloma on his chest under the arm-pit.
These were removed surgically and the skin stretched and sutured. Our cat was then medicated with Fluconazole 50mg every day plus Synulox antibiotic. The outcome after 3 Months was good.
Now two years later Fergal (our cat) has developed two small lesions on his head and an open hole (lesion) on his chest under the armpit.These follow the line of previous suturing.
We have been treating for a month with Fluconazole 50mg and Synulox daily. Although the lesions are clean, no signs of bacterial infection, the do not seem to be improving, the lesion on the chest may be getting bigger!(2.5cm x 1.5cm). I don't feel that the 'old boy' should undergo more surgery.
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My cat had small bumps on his body and was taken to the hospital yesterday. the doctor said that the cat is affected with fungal infection. So, the doctor shaved him and removed his hair (with hands) on certain parts with bumps leaving him bare skin in certain places & recommended some medicines. Is This how it should have been done? WAS IT NECESSARY TO LEAVE HIM IN BARE SKIN IN CERTAIN PARTS SHOWING HIS BLOOD ?
I understand your concern, but in some cases it is necessary to cut the hair to prevent hair (or other debris) from contaminating any open wounds as well as giving easy access to the skin to apply topical creams for treatment. I know that cosmetically Missa doesn’t look good, but the shaved hair will allow for easy cream administration and the hair will grow back; just make sure that Missa isn’t cold. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Thank You for your advice Dr. Callum turner.
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