What is Fungal Yeast Infection?
Fungal yeast infections are not common in domestic cats, but they do occur. These infections come from fungi, which are parasitic organisms that produce spores. Some fungi exploit a host that is sick or weak, but others can invade even the healthiest of cats. Most types of fungal yeast infections in cats affect the skin, but some can affect other parts of the body such as the respiratory tract.
While viruses and bacterial infections most likely come to mind when pet owners consider their cats becoming sick, there are types of fungi that can also cause many unpleasant symptoms in cats.
Symptoms of Fungal Yeast Infection in Cats
The primary symptoms associated with yeast infections in cats depend on the type of infection present. Here are some common symptoms associated with these types of fungal infections in cats:
- Greasy skin
- Loss of hair
- Redness on skin
- Scaly skin
- Thickening of the skin
- Dark spots on skin
- Smelly discharge from lesions on the skin
- Upper respiratory infections
- Eye problems
- Intestinal diseases
- Infection in the chest
- Bladder problems
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
There are several types of fungi that can cause yeast infections in cats, although they are not common. Below are a few types of fungal yeast infections that are known to affect domestic cats:
Candidiasis is a yeast infection that affects primarily the skin and mucous membranes of the skin. This condition is not often seen in cats, but can occur in cats that are immunodeficient. This means that cats being treated with antibiotics or for cancer or more likely to contract this fungal yeast infection.
Malassezia dermatitis is caused by yeast that is often present in the skin and ears of domestic felines. However, an overgrowth of yeast can cause inflammation of the skin and a host of other problems. This fungal yeast infection can occur in any breed.
Blastomycosis is caused by a soil-borne fungus. Although most common in dogs, cats can become infected upon inhaling fungal spores. While not all infected cats become sick, those that do can have a multitude of unpleasant symptoms such as skin lesions, fever and cough.
Causes of Fungal Yeast Infection in Cats
Fungal yeast infections can be caused by fungi naturally occurring on a cat’s body or in the environment. Fungi can enter the body in several different ways:
- Ingested in food or water
- Inhaled through the nose
- Absorption through the skin
- Flea allergies
Some conditions can make a cat more vulnerable to an overgrowth of yeast and infection:
- Cancer of the pancreas
- Compromised immune system
Diagnosis of Fungal Yeast Infection in Cats
Your veterinarian will go through a series of steps to diagnose your cat's condition. He will begin by taking a thorough medical history regarding your cat's health. Be sure to include any information such as previously diagnosed medical conditions, contact with chemicals, recent illnesses and the date symptoms began. Your doctor will also take vital signs and draw blood for a biochemical profile and a CBC. He may also request a urine sample so he may check for bacteria and infection in your cat's urine. Skin cytology tests may be performed to obtain a culture which will aid in diagnosing the type of yeast infection present.
Treatment of Fungal Yeast Infection in Cats
After obtaining a definitive diagnosis, your doctor will decide on a treatment for your cat's fungal yeast infection. If the infection is localized on the skin, he may prescribe dips or medicated shampoos to soothe skin and eliminate odors. He may also use antibiotics or antifungal medications to bring down the number of yeast and symptom-causing bacteria. Your veterinarian may also decide to use medicated ointment or steroid injections, depending on your cat's progress.
Recovery of Fungal Yeast Infection in Cats
Your cat's recovery will depend on the severity of the yeast infection and treatment used. If there are any secondary problems associated with the primary infection, they will need to be addressed and treated. In most cases, medicated shampoos reduce the smell and scaly skin in 1 to 2 weeks after treatment begins. Your doctor will want to recheck your cat every few weeks or so until symptoms resolve. He may perform a skin cytology test at each of these visits, until yeast overgrowth is reduced to normal levels. Once infected with fungal yeast infections, your cat may suffer a flare-up of symptoms on occasion. While this is completely normal, it is necessary to communicate with your doctor before symptoms escalate. Prompt treatment is key to keeping fungal yeast infections in cats at bay.