Fungal infections can have a serious impact on your cat's health and make you vulnerable to infection as well. Our Los Angeles veterinarians discuss some of the most common causes, symptoms, and treatments for fungal infection in cats today.

Fungal Infections in Cats

Fungi (funguses) that cause infections in cats usually live in the soil, where they can be inhaled, ingested, or enter the body through open cuts or scrapes. Once inside your cat's body, these parasitic organisms can thrive and produce spores, resulting in localized infections or infections that spread throughout your pet's body.

The most common fungal infections our vets see in cats are skin infections (such as ringworm), while generalized fungal infections tend to be much rarer. Although some fungi can cause illness in healthy cats, most fungal infections are seen in cats that are sick, immunocompromised, very young, or very old.

Depending upon the type of fungus, these infections can be contagious between cats or even between cats and people.

Fungal Infections Commonly Seen in Cats

Although there are many fungi in the environment that can harm your cat's health, some infections are more common than others. The following are some of the most common fungal infections in cats:

  • Aspergillosis
  • Candidiasis 
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Coccidioidomycosis 
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Blastomycosis
  • Mycetomas
  • Rhinosporidiosis 
  • Sporotrichosis 
  • Phaeohyphomycosis

Fungal infections in cats may be concentrated in one area such as the nasal passages, lungs, or skin but they can also spread throughout the animal's body leading to more generalized symptoms. 

Symptoms of Fungal Infection in Cats

If your cat has a fungal infection, the symptoms they exhibit will depend on the type of fungus that is causing the infection. Some of the most common symptoms of the fungal infections listed above are listed below.

  • Poor appetite
  • High fever
  • Eye infections
  • Seizures
  • Lung infections
  • Skin lesions
  • Weight loss
  • Paralysis
  • Lack of energy
  • Bladder infections
  • Blindness
  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Bloody discharge from nose
  • Cysts
  • Persistent cough
  • Circling
  • Swelling under the bridge of the nose

Diagnosing Cat Fungal Infections 

Due to the vast number of fungi found in North America, and because many types of fungal infections are more regional or rare, these infections can be challenging to diagnose. 

At Washington Dog and Cat Hospital, our veterinarians can utilize our state-of-the-art lab and diagnostic technology when diagnosing and treating cats with internal conditions such as fungal infections.

If your cat is exhibiting signs of a fungal infection, your veterinarian will go over your cat's medical history with you before performing a thorough physical examination. If your veterinarian suspects a fungal infection, he or she may recommend one or more of the following tests to determine the type of fungus causing the infection and the best treatment for your cat:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Chemical blood profile
  • Urinalysis to check kidney function and look for other signs of an internal fungal infection
  • Tissue samples were taken for analysis

Treatment for Fungal Infections in Cats

Treatment for your cat's fungal infection will depend upon your cat's symptoms and the type of infection being treated.

Antifungal medications, either oral or topical, can be used to treat your cat's infection. Your veterinarian may remove skin lesions caused by fungal infections, and topical ointments or medicated shampoos may be prescribed to help treat your cat's infection. Any secondary infections will be treated with medications or IV fluids as needed.

Treatment options may include keeping your cat hospitalized in order to reduce the risk of family members becoming infected if the fungus is transmittable to humans.

If you will be treating your cat at home, your vet will provide instructions on how to prevent infections from spreading such as wearing gloves and a mask when changing litter or handling your cat, and washing your pet's bedding, food bowls, and toys frequently.

Recovery & Prognosis

Your cat’s prognosis will be determined by the type of fungal infection as well as your cat's age and overall health. While prescription medication can help to clear some fungal infections, others may have long-term health impacts or in the case of North American Blastomycosis severe neurological symptoms may occur.

It can take several weeks to see noticeable health improvements in cats after treating fungal infections. To assist your cat's recovery, make sure to attend all follow-up appointments so that your pet's condition can be evaluated. Your veterinarian will examine your cat for signs of relapse and, if necessary, adjust the medication.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat has symptoms of a serious fungal infection, contact Washington Dog and Cat Hospital. We can assess your cat and make recommendations on the next steps.