Happy Silly Cat

Feline Fungus: Common Skin Infections in Cats

Pets are some of the most loyal companions we can have in our homes. From their adorable antics to their warm companionship, pets help make our homes a haven of comfort.

However, just like humans, animals can suffer from a variety of illnesses and infections, including fungal infections. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common skin fungal infections that can affect cats, their causes, symptoms, diagnoses and treatments.

Skin Fungal Infections in Cats

Skin fungal infections in cats are caused by fungi or parasitic organisms that thrive in the environment, soil and through direct contact. The spores of these fungi can live for months or years in the environment and can cause infections in cats.

Types of Fungal Infections

There are several types of fungal infections that can affect cats. These include dermatophytosis, also known as ringworm, Microsporum canis, and asymptomatic carriers.

Some of these infections are also considered zoonotic, which means that they can be transmitted to humans.

Other types of fungal infections that can infect cats include

Cryptococcosis,

Coccidioidomycosis,

Blastomycosis,

Candidiasis, Malassezia yeast, Cutaneous sporotrichosis, Rhinosporidiosis, Phaeohyphomycosis, and

Mycetomas.

Each fungal infection has its unique symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.

Symptoms

The symptoms of skin fungus in cats are pretty much the same for all the different kinds of fungal infections. Affected cats will experience hair loss, redness, scaling, crusting, pustules, nodules, and abscesses, among other skin conditions.

Additionally, other symptoms, such as lethargy, weight loss, and fever, may also be present. Some fungal infections can affect other organs, such as the lungs, causing coughing or breathing difficulties, blindness, and seizures.

Diagnosis

Determining the specific kind of fungal infection affecting a cat requires proper diagnosis. The veterinarian will collect a comprehensive lifestyle and clinical history before performing a series of physical examinations and diagnostic tests.

Skin scrapes and cytology may be used to help identify the fungal infection early on. A Wood’s lamp examination, a trichogram, and dermatophyte culture may also be used to determine the type of fungal infection present in the cat.

If diagnostic tests come back inconclusive, a biopsy or PCR analysis may be ordered.

Treatment and Recovery

Treatment for fungal infections in cats depends on the type of infection that is identified. Some infections may require surgical removal of affected areas, while others may require a combination of antifungal medications.

There are also topical therapies available for certain types of fungal infections. It’s essential to be committed to the treatment plan, as fungal infections in cats may have recurrences or relapse if left untreated.

Dermatophytosis (Ringworm)

Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis, is one of the most common fungal infections in cats. It’s caused by Microsporum canis and can be transmitted through direct exposure or contact with infected soil.

Some cats may even be asymptomatic carriers.

Symptoms

Ringworm manifests in cats as hair loss, scaling, crusting, and circular or ring-like patterns on the skin. Other skin conditions can be present, such as fungal nodules, abscesses, and other secondary bacterial infections.

Diagnosis

To diagnose ringworm, veterinarians often use a Wood’s lamp examination, which helps to identify the fluorescent-colored isotopes present on the cat’s fur. It can also be detected through a dermatophyte culture test, which involves growing the fungus in a controlled environment and observing its morphology.

Treatment

Treatment for ringworm in cats requires oral antifungal medications and topical antifungal therapy. The infected cat’s environment should also be thoroughly decontaminated and cleaned to prevent re-contamination.

Regular re-check exams should be conducted to monitor the cat’s progress and adjust treatment accordingly.

Conclusion

Fungal infections are some of the most common types of illnesses that can affect cats. These infections can be caused by different types of fungi and parasites and can present with varying symptoms.

Early diagnosis and proper treatment are essential in the management of fungal infections. It’s crucial to monitor your cat’s health and seek veterinary attention if you notice any changes in behavior, appetite, or skin appearance.

As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our furry friends receive proper medical care and attention to keep them healthy and happy. In addition to ringworm, there are many other fungal infections that can affect cats.

These infections can manifest with a variety of symptoms, from skin masses to respiratory problems. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common fungal infections that cats can contract, their causes, symptoms, and possible treatment options.

Cryptococcosis

Cryptococcosis is a respiratory disease caused by Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii, two species of fungi commonly found in the environment. Cryptococcus is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted to humans.

Symptoms

Signs of cryptococcosis may include respiratory problems, fever, lethargy, weight loss, ocular symptoms and neurological symptoms, such as seizures, confusion, and disorientation.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnostic tests for cryptococcosis include radiographs, CT scans, or MRI scans to look for pulmonary masses or nervous system involvement.

Treatment involves anti-fungal medications, and in some cases, surgical intervention may be required.

Preventative measures include avoiding exposure to bird droppings, especially those from pigeons, and minimizing any other potential sources of fungal infection in your cat’s environment.

Coccidioidomycosis

Coccidioidomycosis, or “valley fever,” is a fungal infection usually found in dry, semi-arid regions such as the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Coccidioidomycosis is caused by inhaling the spores of the fungus Coccidioides immitis.

Symptoms

Symptoms of coccidioidomycosis are varied, and can include fever, weight loss, coughing, lethargy, non-healing masses, and draining wounds. In some cases, cats may develop hair loss or other dermatological symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing coccidioidomycosis can be challenging, as it can often mimic other diseases. Diagnostic tests such as radiographs, cultures, blood tests, and biopsies may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment involves long-term anti-fungal therapy, as coccidiomycosis is a systemic disease that can become chronic. Additionally, surgery may be required to remove any masses or draining wounds.

Blastomycosis

Blastomycosis is another fungal infection that can affect cats. The disease is caused by the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis, which is commonly found in soil and decaying organic matter in the Ohio River basin, Great Lakes, and St. Lawrence Seaway region.

Symptoms

Blastomycosis can cause respiratory problems such as pneumonia, as well as skin masses and abscesses. Additional symptoms may include coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnostic tests for blastomycosis include chest radiographs and cultures.

Treatment involves long-term anti-fungal therapy, and surgery may be necessary to remove any masses or abscesses.

Candidiasis

Candidiasis is a type of fungal infection that is naturally found in cats, and may only become a problem when the cat’s immune system is compromised. This fungus can be found in the digestive tract, urinary tract, and skin.

Symptoms

Symptoms of candidiasis can vary depending on its location in the cat’s body. For example, if candidiasis affects the skin, cats may develop itchy or scaly patches, while if it affects the digestive tract, vomiting and diarrhea may occur.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing candidiasis may involve biopsies or cultures, which can detect the presence of the fungus.

Treatment involves anti-fungal medications, such as azoles, and any underlying causes of the cat’s immune system, should be addressed.

Malassezia Yeast

Malassezia yeast is naturally found on most cats, but in some cases, overgrowth of the yeast can occur. The overgrowth of this yeast can cause skin and ear infections, allergies, dermatological conditions, endocrine conditions, and even cancers.

This yeast is more commonly found in Rex cats.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Malassezia yeast infection can include skin irritation, itchiness, hair loss, scabs, and ear infections.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing Malassezia yeast infection may involve skin scrapes or cultures.

Treatment involves anti-fungal medications, such as azoles, as well as topical therapy and controlling any underlying conditions, such as allergies.

Cutaneous Sporotrichosis

Cutaneous sporotrichosis is a fungal infection that manifests as nodules and draining wounds on the skin of outdoor cats. The disease is caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii.

Symptoms

Symptoms of cutaneous sporotrichosis include nodules and draining wounds on the skin.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of cutaneous sporotrichosis involves cultures and biopsies, which can confirm the presence of the fungus.

Treatment involves anti-fungal medications and surgical interventions as necessary.

Rhinosporidiosis

Rhinosporidiosis is a fungal infection that primarily affects the nasal membranes and can cause the formation of nodules and polyps.

Symptoms

Symptoms of rhinosporidiosis can include sneezing, nasal discharge, and the development of polyps on the nasal membranes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of rhinosporidiosis involves performing biopsies or cultures of the nasal membranes.

Treatment can involve surgical excision of the infected tissue, followed by antifungal medication as needed.

Phaeohyphomycosis

Phaeohyphomycosis is a rare fungal infection that can affect the skin and other organs of cats. Infections can present as skin masses or draining wounds or, in more severe cases, neurological symptoms.

Symptoms

Symptoms of phaeohyphomycosis can include skin masses, draining wounds, and nervous system involvement.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing phaeohyphomycosis involves cultures, biopsies, and diagnostic imaging.

Treatment typically includes long-term anti-fungal therapy and surgical removal of any infected tissue.

Mycetomas

Mycetomas are fungal infections that cause swelling of the skin and abdominal tissue, often with the presence of pigmented granules.

Mycetomas can be opportunistic and arise from traumatic injuries or surgical wounds.

Symptoms

Symptoms of mycetomas can include swelling of the skin and abdominal tissues, as well as the presence of pigmented granules.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of mycetomas involves cultures, biopsies, and diagnostic imaging.

Treatment typically involves surgery to remove any infected tissue, followed by long-term anti-fungal therapy.

In summary, fungal infections in cats can be caused by various types of fungi and can present with a wide range of symptoms.

Diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections often require a combination of tests and treatments, depending on the type of infection and its severity. As pet owners, it’s essential to monitor our cats for any unusual symptoms and seek veterinary attention if necessary.

By working with our veterinarians and treating any infections promptly, we can help our feline friends remain healthy and happy. Fungal infections are common illnesses among cats and can cause a wide range of symptoms from skin conditions to respiratory problems.

The most common fungal infection found in cats is ringworm, but there are many other types of fungal infections that can affect them. Each fungal infection requires a specific diagnosis and treatment to manage the symptoms effectively.

Early detection and appropriate treatment can prevent the progression of the disease and minimize its severe consequences. It is crucial to seek veterinary attention if your cat displays any unusual symptoms and work closely with your veterinarian to develop an efficient treatment plan for your cat.

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