What is Fungal Infection of Lower Urinary Tract?
Urinary tract infections tend to be painful for cats and can cause kidney damage if left untreated. If a cat is displaying symptoms such as trying repeatedly to urinate while producing only small drops of urine, a veterinary consultation is warranted.
Internal fungal infections are rarely found in cats. When they do occur, they are usually caused by the strain candida cystitis. The fungus may be located in the lower urinary tract or it may originate from the kidneys and be discharged through the urine. Fungal infections may be present for a considerable length of time before any noticeable symptoms arise. If a cat does display symptoms, the most common behavior that is seen is difficulty urinating. The cat is likely to spend a great deal of time trying to urinate without much success. This behavior is often mistaken for constipation.
Symptoms of Fungal Infection of Lower Urinary Tract in Cats
There are often no visible symptoms associated with a fungal infection in the lower urinary tract, even when the infection has been present for some time and is well established. Some cats may display one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty urinating
- Frequently releasing small amounts of urine
- Crying out while urinating
- Blood in urine
- Excessive licking of the genital area
- Urinating outside the litter box
Causes of Fungal Infection of Lower Urinary Tract in Cats
Cats of any age, breed, or gender may be affected by the condition. Common causes include:
- Frequent exposure to the outdoors
- Diabetes mellitus
- Complications from surgery
- Contaminated urinary catheters
- Bacterial infections in the lower urinary tract
- Excessive antibiotic use
- Excessive corticosteroid use
Diagnosis of Fungal Infection of Lower Urinary Tract in Cats
The examining veterinarian will review the cat’s full health history and discuss details regarding symptoms, including the onset and severity. Laboratory tests will be ordered to evaluate the general health of the cat. A complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile will help to determine whether the fungus has spread to other organs, and a urinalysis will detect the presence of fungus in the urine. It is possible that fungus can be introduced through a contamination of the sample, so positive results will often warrant re-testing of a new sample. If both tests return a positive result, a urine culture will be ordered to identify the specific fungus that is causing the infection. If results are inconclusive, additional tests may be ordered. Identifying the type of fungus helps to determine the proper medication that should be used to treat it.
Treatment of Fungal Infection of Lower Urinary Tract in Cats
The primary treatment for fungal infections in the lower urinary tract involves addressing the risk factors that are associated with the condition. Removing contaminated catheters and eliminating the use of certain drugs is often the first step. Antifungal drugs will usually be prescribed and may be administered through a urinary catheter in a procedure known as infusion. Urinary alkalization may be used to increase the effectiveness of treatment. Fungal urinary tract infections are difficult to treat and it is likely that multiple rounds of infusion will be needed before the cat has made a complete recovery.
Recovery of Fungal Infection of Lower Urinary Tract in Cats
It is common for fungal urinary infections to require long-term treatment before they are fully resolved. At least two additional urine tests will be needed, one occurring 10 to 14 days after the initial treatment and the second 10 to 14 days later. Two months after the final treatment has been administered, another culture will be performed to ensure that all residual fungus has been eliminated. If the results of this test are negative, the condition will be deemed to have been resolved.
Carefully following the instructions that the veterinarian has provided is vitally important to the cat’s recovery. Owners should ensure that dietary restrictions are followed and must observe the cat’s urination habits closely. If a change in the color of the urine is noticed or the cat begins to display signs of difficulty with urination, a follow-up visit to the vet will be needed.
Owners can help the cat to recover by providing access to clean, fresh water at all times. Several litter boxes should be available and they should be kept in a quiet and comfortable area of the house, away from any potential danger. All litter boxes must be kept clean. They should be scooped out twice a day and the litter should be changed at least once a week. It is best if the cat can be kept calm while it is recovering. If possible, avoid any major changes in routine in order to minimize potential stress.
With proper diagnosis and treatment, it is likely that an affected cat will fully recover and live a normal, healthy life.