What is Yeast Infection and Thrush?
Candidiasis is a type of fungal infection that primarily affects the skin. The infection forms when there is an overabundance of the fungus Candida albicans. While typically rare in cats, yeast infections can cause your cat discomfort. In serious cases, yeast infections in cats may be related to upper respiratory disease, intestinal and bladder disease, and eye lesions.
Yeast infections in cats are commonly characterized by skin sores on the ears or genitals, but can affect many parts of the body. When the infection is localized to the inside of the mouth or the esophagus, it is usually referred to as “thrush”.
Symptoms of Yeast Infection and Thrush in Cats
The symptoms of yeast infection will vary based on a number of factors, including where the infection is located on the body. You’ll want to make sure that you’re fully aware of any pre-existing conditions your cat may have, as yeast infections can often share the same symptoms as other diseases.
Symptoms of yeast infection can include:
- Frequent itching
- Dandruff and hair loss
- Drooling, if thrush
- Lesions on the skin or eyes
- Excessive amount of earwax buildup
- Redness caused by irritation of the skin
Causes of Yeast Infection and Thrush in Cats
Though Candida albicans occurs naturally in a cat’s body, a yeast infection can occur when the yeast fungus spreads to vulnerable tissue through a wound or open sore on the skin. It is also possible that yeast infections in cats can be caused by a pre-existing condition or a medication or antibiotic regimen that affects the immune system. Antibiotics can cause a bacterial imbalance, which can trigger a yeast infection.
Other causes of yeast infection may include:
- Improper diet
- Thyroid conditions
- Allergic reaction
- Use of a catheter due to an operation
- A side effect of medications for other conditions
- Pregnancy or lactation
- Diseases or drugs that suppress the immune system
Diagnosis of Yeast Infection and Thrush in Cats
If your cat has lesions or sores and is itching more than usual, it may be suffering from a yeast infection. Contact your vet as soon as you notice lesions on your cat’s skin. It is important that you don’t diagnose or medicate at home, as this may lead to additional side effects or interactions with other medications.
While a yeast infection isn’t life-threatening, you’ll want to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible to resolve their discomfort. Be sure to inform the vet of your cat’s symptoms. The vet may also ask you if your cat is on any medications, so be sure to prepare a list of all medications and dosages before you go.
The vet can perform a number of tests in order to diagnose your cat. These include a blood test, a urine sample, a simple swab of the affected area, and/or a biopsy of the lesions. The biopsy is non-invasive as candidiasis tends to affect only the epithelial, or surface, tissue. The vet will then analyze the samples to check for Candida albicans.
Treatment of Yeast Infection and Thrush in Cats
Ointments and Creams
Topical treatments are often prescribed to treat feline yeast infection. These are applied directly to the infected area. Always be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after treatment.
Your vet may prescribe specially medicated shampoos that will help treat your cat’s yeast infection. These shampoos may contain miconazole nitrate, ketoconazole, itraconazole, or fluconazole. These medications will reduce the presence of Candida albicans and promote healing of the epithelial tissue.
Oral medications to treat yeast infection are sometimes used in conjunction with topical treatments. These medications are usually prescribed if other types of treatment are unsuccessful or if the cat is long-haired and has a more severe yeast infection.
In rare cases, your vet may suggest injections to treat your cat, particularly if the yeast infection is a more severe type of fungal infection.
Recovery of Yeast Infection and Thrush in Cats
A normal treatment regimen for yeast infection or thrush in cats usually lasts around two weeks. At the outset, topical treatment for a yeast infection should last no longer than a month. If treatment has lasted more than a month and the infection has not cleared up, you should contact your vet immediately.
In any case, your vet will likely schedule a follow-up appointment. During this appointment, your vet will re-examine your cat, testing once again for an overabundance of Candida albicans.
Persistent candidiasis can be a symptom of another, more serious disease or a possible allergy. In the event that candidiasis is still present despite treatment, your vet may run additional tests to determine if another disease is the cause.
Yeast Infection and Thrush Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My 4 year old cat has been diagnosed as having Feline Immunodeficiency Virus even though he has had all of his vaccinations. Secondary is yeast in his blood. What would be a typical treatment plan for this situation?
In the clinical trial it was shown that the FIV vaccine (FEL-O-VAX) was effective in 82% of cats (four out of five cats), also there is no diagnostic test to differentiate between cats protected by the vaccine and cat naturally infected. Treatment for any infection should be aggressive and carried out by your Veterinarian, additionally FIV positive cats should be kept indoors and not allowed to mix with other cats. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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