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What is Fungal Infection Of The Skin?

Fungal infections occur when fungi present in the environment is inhaled by your cat or it enters his system through a break in his skin. Fungi are found in the soil and in the feces of infected animals. These infections can affect cats of any age or breed. Certain types of fungal infections attack cats that are sick or have immune deficiency diseases.

There are a variety of fungal infections that can affect your cat’s skin. Some may not cause serious problems and clear up with medication. However, there are certain types of fungi that can damage your cat’s skin and put his health at risk.

Symptoms of Fungal Infection Of The Skin in Cats

Fungal infection of the skin can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the type of fungi present. Here are some symptoms seen by veterinarians most often in cats:

  • Redness of skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Hair loss
  • Greasy skin
  • Skin lesions that can emit a foul odor
  • Thick skin
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin in patches
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Organized lesions known as granules
  • Nodules underneath the skin 
  • Lesions inside the nose
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Draining masses on the head, chest and limbs


There are many types of fungal infections that can affect your cat’s skin. The following is a list of some of the most common in domestic cats:

  • Malassezia pachydermatis
  • Cutaneous sporotrichosis
  • Disseminated sporotrichosis
  • Rhinosporidiosis
  • Phaeohyphomycosis
  • Mycetomas
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Coccidioidomycosis
  • Candidiasis

Causes of Fungal Infection Of The Skin in Cats

The cause of fungal infections of the skin in cats depends on the type of fungi responsible for the infection. Here are some things that doctors have identified as the primary causes of these skin infections:

  • Flea allergies
  • Cancer of the pancreas or liver
  • Exposure to high humidity and heat
  • Contact with infected feces
  • Exposure to infected soil
  • Inhalation of fungal spores outdoors
  • Contamination of wounds

Diagnosis of Fungal Infection Of The Skin in Cats

Your veterinarian will need some information from you to diagnose your cat’s condition. It is important to let him know when you first noticed symptoms and if you cat takes any medications for pre-existing health conditions. After taking a medical history, your doctor will examine your cat thoroughly. He will observe his mannerisms, gait and neurological function. Your cat’s heart rate, respirations and temperature will also be taken and recorded. 

Your doctor will likely take a blood sample to see if infection is present. A biochemical profile and complete blood count or CBC will be sent to an outside laboratory for testing. A urine sample will be taken for urinalysis, as well. If your cat has lesions on his skin, your doctor may take a skin scraping. He will examine it underneath a microscope to determine if yeast is present. Lesions that are draining may be biopsied while your cat is under anesthesia. These samples are sent to an outside laboratory for diagnosis. It is important to accurately diagnose fungal infections of the skin because some types can be transmitted to humans. 

Treatment of Fungal Infection Of The Skin in Cats

How your cat is treated for his fungal infection of the skin will depend on the type of fungi present. Some skin infections can be treated with special antifungal creams or ointments or oral antifungal medications. Infections that are caused by yeast may be treated with special shampoos or dips. Cysts or lesions under the skin may require surgical removal. In some cases, these cysts recur with frequency and are often difficult to treat.

If your cat develops bacterial or secondary infections as a result of his fungal infection, your veterinarian will treat these as needed. Cats that are very sick or contagious may be kept in the hospital until the symptoms improve. Your doctor may give you instructions on how to avoid becoming infected before you take your cat home.

Recovery of Fungal Infection Of The Skin in Cats

Recovery time depends on how severe your cat’s symptoms are and the type of fungal infection present in the skin. Certain types of antifungal medicines take weeks before you can see an improvement in symptoms. It is important to give your cat his medicine exactly as prescribed. Your doctor will most likely see your cat every few weeks to monitor his progress. It is very important that you report any changes in your cat’s condition quickly to your doctor. This includes any changes in the appearance of the skin or in his behavior. If your cat had surgery to remove nodules or lesions, his recovery may take a bit longer. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions on how to care for his incisions and how to administer any medications sent home. You will be given an appointment for suture removal if necessary. Sutures typically come out 10 days after surgery, depending on the size and depth of the wound. In rare cases, fungal infections of the skin can cause secondary issues that cause serious health issues or are untreatable. Your doctor will recommend the best course of treatment in these cases.

Fungal Infection Of The Skin Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

2 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms


Can I just bring in a stray cat to a vet's office? It's been living in my backyard and does not h ave a tail. It has an open wound with puss leaking. The spot where tail once was bleeds and then it dries up into scabs. Then it peels and bleeds again. Have seen it go through that for a couple of months now. Afraid to take it in because of bleeding

Health Expert
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1714 Recommendations

People bring stray cats to Veterinarians all the time, sometimes there is a disagreement between the Veterinarian and the person bringing in the cat on who will pay. Before you take the cat to your Veterinarian’s Office, call them first as they may have a policy on stray cats (no vaccination record or medical history). A charity clinic may be more accommodating. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

You must take that cat in immediately! How you could let that poor cat live like that for months is cruel. Pure cruel.

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