Fungal Infection in Cats: Skin, Lungs & Nose

Your cat is keen on exploring their world. Unfortunately, this can expose them to a number of different types of microorganisms which can harm them. Here, our La Mesa vets discuss fungal infections in cats, some of the most common types and what symptoms to watch for.

What causes fungal infections in cats?

Cats usually contract fungal infections by inhaling or ingesting them. Other ways that parasitic fungal organisms can also find their way into your pet are through the skin (via a cut, wound or another open sore), or through direct contact with an infected animal or an infected animal's feces.

While many cats recover from fungal infections with no issues, some cats, especially those which have a weakened immune system, may have severe complications.

What are the commonly seen types of fungal infections?

While there is an extensive list of fungi that can negatively affect your cat's health, our La Mesa vets have a few that are seen more often than the others. Here are some of the fungal infections we see in cats:

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

These fungal infections can be either widespread or isolated within your cat's body. Generalized infections are less common but we frequently see skin infections.

Are there any signs of fungal infections that you should watch for?

The different types of fungal infections will cause your cat to display different symptoms. Here are some fo the typical symptoms associated with the types of fungi listed above:

  • Lung infections
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Eye problems
  • Seizures
  • Bladder infections
  • Skin lesions
  • Weight loss
  • Paralysis
  • Intolerance to physical activity
  • Diarrhea
  • Blindness
  • Anemia
  • Depression
  • Swelling under the bridge of the nose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bloody discharge from nose
  • Cysts beneath the skin
  • Cough
  • Circling

How can your cat be treated for fungal infections?

Fungal infections can be notoriously difficult to diagnose as they can be caused by fungi that are only specific to certain locations. You can help with the diagnosis of your cat by monitoring their behavior closely and offering your vet any information that may be helpful.

A complete blood count (CBC), chemical blood profile and urinalysis will help your vet identify what’s causing your kitty’s symptoms. In some cases, a tissue sample may be taken to assist in diagnosis. Your cat will typically be anesthetized for these tests. The tissue sample will be taken during surgery, then analyzed in our lab.

Depending on the type of fungi that is causing your cat’s symptoms, your veterinarian may present different options for treatment, such as hospitalization if the fungus is transmittable to humans. By keeping your cat in the veterinary hospital and away from your family it will help prevent the infection from being spread to the members of your family.

If your cat must stay home then you could speak with your vet to learn the different ways to help prevent the spread of infection. 

If your cat is experiencing fungal skin infections they will likely prescribe a topical cream or perform a removal to treat the skin lesions and treat any secondary infections using medications or IV fluids. Fungal infections can be challenging to treat. So, it's important to keep in mind that several weeks of treatment may be needed before your kitty’s health issues begin to show significant improvement.

What is the outlook for cats experiencing fungal infections?

What to expect for the outcome of these conditions depends on the specific type of fungi that your cat has been infected with. Although prescription medication can help to clear some infections, others may have long-term health impacts or even lead to severe neurological symptoms (like those caused by North American Blastomycosis, for example).

Your cat's assessment and reassessment during their recovery can help ensure they have the best outlook possible. Your vet will check to see that no relapses have happened and make changes to medication if required. Report any changes in your cat’s appearance or behavior immediately.

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.

Has your cat developed a fungal infection? Contact Rancho Village Veterinary Hospital to speak with our vets about booking an appointment for your cat.