Yeast organisms together with other harmless bacteria are normally found on the skin of cats. However, when there is an overabundance of yeast organisms, a yeast infection occurs. Cat yeast infection symptoms are detectable. However, these are similar to other conditions, so the symptoms may indicate other allergies or fungal infections and diseases. A vet can diagnose your cat. Causes of Cat Yeast Infection Yeast infection in cats may be caused by a number of existing diseases that will weaken the immune system. The use of antibiotics may also kill the harmless bacteria, and cause an imbalance and a yeast infection. Other types of medication such as flea and heartworm drugs may lead to a yeast infection. Yeast infection can be caused by an imbalanced diet, thyroid problems, pregnancy or lactation. Extreme Itchiness A yeast infection causes extreme itchiness in cats, so they will scratch and lick themselves more than usual. The infection may be localized in the ear canal, in between the paws, in the rectum or in females, in the vagina. Hair Loss Yeast infection causes irritation on the skin and this will lead to hair loss. The excessive scratching and licking will also cause hair loss. Skin Redness Affected areas will appear red, and even have rashes and lesions in more serious cases. It is important to detect the infection and treat it, to prevent the cat from scratching and causing more problems. Dandruff Malassezia is one of the most common yeast organisms that can cause yeast infection in cats. Malassezia in excess will also cause dandruff, irritations and hair loss. Chin Acne Malassezia needs fat to be able to develop; usually it finds fat on cat’s facial skin, upper body and scalp. If there is a surplus of this type of yeast, it will cause chin acne that requires a lengthy treatment. Seborrhea Seborrhea is the excessive secretion of the sebaceous glands. This may be a consequence of thyroid problems and is also a symptom of feline yeast infection. Seborrhea causes oily or dry skin and coat, and the cat will have an unhealthy look, with scaly and crusty skin. Seborrhea may result in hair loss, because it causes the hair to be easily pulled out. Other symptoms of feline yeast infection include fatigue, irritability and sometimes a secretion with a foul odor. Coughing and sensitivity to noise and light may also occur in rare cases of cats with yeast infection. Yeast Infection Treatment The treatment of yeast infection may be problematic because the yeast organisms thrive in moist areas. However, a treatment combining shampoos, ointments and anti-fungal medication can solve the problem. Shampoos for yeast infection contain miconazole nitrate, chlorhexidine or ketoconazole. The treatment is lengthy. Make sure not to discontinue it as soon as you see that the symptoms are gone. Keep up the treatment for as long as your vet prescribes it.
Malassezia pachydermatis is a yeast that is commonly found on the skin of most cats. This yeast normally exists without creating any problems; however, in some cases, it can grow, reproduce in abnormal numbers and cause disease. Where is Malassezia found? Malassezia can be found on the skin of cats living throughout all of North America. Its presence is not considered abnormal in healthy cats. It is commonly found in the ear canal, anal sacs, vagina, and rectum. Malassezia can infect cats of all ages and breeds. Why do cats get Malassezia yeast infections? Any hereditary or infectious disease that weakens the skin’s immune system can allow a Malassezia infection to begin. Cats that have an underlying condition such as a bacterial infection, allergy, or seborrhea can produce irritated skin that is then susceptible to an infection with Malassezia. It should be noted, however, that infections with this yeast are rare in cats. What are the symptoms of a Malassezia yeast infection in cats? The most common symptom of Malassezia infections in cats is alopecia (hair loss). Chin acne, redness, and seborrhea can also occur. How is a Malassezia yeast infection in cats diagnosed? The best way to diagnose Malassezia is with a positive identification of the organism under the microscope. The lesion can be scraped, swabbed, or transparent tape can be applied to and removed from the infected area to obtain a sample. Most infections will have a large number of yeast present that will confirm the diagnosis. Laboratory cultures can also be performed to identify the organism. Keep in mind that because Malassezia can be present on the skin of a healthy animal, there may always be some doubt as to whether or not it is the causative agent of the symptoms. Therefore, diagnosis is usually confirmed by the cat’s response to treatment. How are Malassezia yeast infections in cats treated? Treatment can be approached in several different ways. For a long-term solution to the problem the underlying condition must be properly diagnosed and treated. Once the underlying conditions are addressed, then either localized or generalized treatment can begin. To provide an inhospitable environment for Malassezia, lipids (fats) on the cat’s skin need to be removed. Chlorhexidine shampoos that are 1% or stronger, and shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide and sulfur can be used. Human shampoos containing ketoconazole have also been used. For localized treatment of very small areas, miconazole cream is applied twice daily for several weeks. For cats with more severe cases, or in those that are resistant to topical treatment, oral ketoconazole, fluconazole or itraconazole can be administered for several weeks. A response is generally seen within 1-2 weeks, however, therapy needs to continue for an additional 3-5 weeks. These oral antifungal drugs are very effective, but because of their potentially toxic side effects and expense, they should only be used under direct veterinary supervision. Conclusion Malassezia is a yeast commonly found on the skin of most cats. In high numbers, it is almost always associated with hair loss and is often misdiagnosed as a skin allergy; although infections in cats are rare. The organism can be readily identified and treatment is usually successful. If your cat has hair loss and has failed to respond to conventional treatments, make sure your veterinarian checks her skin for the ever-present Malassezia.
Treatment of Yeast Infection and Thrush in CatsOintments and CreamsTopical 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.ShampooYour 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 MedicationOral 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.InjectionIn rare cases, your vet may suggest injections to treat your cat, particularly if the yeast infection is a more severe type of fungal infection.
Fungal Diseases How to Treat 5 Common Fungal Diseases in Dogs How to Treat Fungal Infections in Cats How to Treat Yeast (Fungal) Infections in Pets Category Addison's Disease Allergies Anal Sac Inflammation Anxiety Arthritis Asthma Bladder Stones Cancer Congestive Heart Failure Corneal Ulcers Coughing Cushing's Disease Dental Diabetes Diarrhea Digestive Distemper Dry Eye Ear Infections Ear Mites Fatty Tumors Feline Leukemia Fleas and Ticks Fungal Diseases Glaucoma Hair Loss Heartworm Disease Hip Dysplasia Horse Lameness Horse Ulcers Hot Spots Hyperthyroidism Hypothyroidism Inflammatory Bowel Disease Joints Kennel Cough Kidney Disease Kidney Stones Kitten Limping Lyme Disease Lymphoma Mange Medication Motion Sickness Nutrition Pain Parvovirus Poisoning Puppy Rabies Seasons Senior Pets Separation Anxiety Submissive Urination Supplements Unexplained or Unhealthy Weight Urinary Tract Vaccine Reaction Vomiting Worms See All A-Z How to Treat Fungal Infections in Cats Three common fungal infections for cats are: Malassezia or yeast overgrowth Ringworm infection Sporotrichosis Yeast infections (Malassezia) A common skin yeast known as Malassezia is found in small quantities on the skin of nearly all cats in North America, and usually causes no problems. In cats with underlying conditions such as allergies, infection, hereditary skin disease, or other skin disease, Malassezia can overgrow more rapidly, causing an infection. Malassezia infections are usually found on your cat’s skin. Symptoms include hair loss, skin redness, seborrhea (crusting, scaling skin), and often development of a foul discharge or odor on the skin. Treatment of the underlying causes will help eliminate the problem. In mild cases, topical therapy is usually effective and includes degreasing shampoos containing benzoyl peroxide, chlorihexiderm, ketaconazole, and sulfur. 1-800-PetMeds Be Super Clean Shampoo and KetoChlor Shampoo are effective. In more severe cases, antifungal agents such as Ketaconazole or Itraconazole are prescribed. Ringworm Ringworm is an infection caused by a fungus that grows in the superficial layers of the skin, hair, or nails. The organism can also cause infection in dogs and humans. Cats may become infected either by direct contact with an infected animal or by exposure to a contaminated environment or object, such as grooming tools, clippers, or bedding. Spores are the infectious stage of ringworm and found in clusters around infected hairs, and may only be seen by microscopic exam. Spores can remain infectious in the environment for up to two years. Usually some degree of self trauma is required to enable a fungal infection like ringworm to develop. Long-haired cats and cats under one year of age seem to be predisposed. The clinical signs of ringworm can vary. Most commonly, discrete roughly circular areas of hair loss, particularly on the head, ears, or extremities may be seen. The hair may be broken or lost, and the affected skin is often scaly and inflamed. However, ringworm may also look very similar to many other feline skin diseases. Hair loss is typically involved, but inflammation, scaling, and itchiness can be quite variable. Tentative diagnosis is often possible by ultraviolet Wood’s lamp, but a microscopic exam of suspect hairs and/or fungal culture is usually preferred. Treatment of ringworm includes addressing any predisposing skin conditions, as well as treating all pets in the home. Systemic therapy is typically needed using an oral antifungal product liquid known as Itraconazole. Topical therapy is often used as well, such as Malapet Medicated Shampoo. Since ringworm spores can survive for a long time in the environment, decontamination is often suggested by both physically removing the infected hairs from the environment, and using chemical agents to kill the fungal spores. Sporotrichosis Sporotrichosis is a fungus that has the potential to infect the skin, respiratory system, bones and sometimes the brain. Infection occurs through abrasions of the skin or by inhalation. The origin of the fungus is typically from the environment, but it also has a zoonotic potential, meaning it can be transmitted from animals and humans. Cats tend to experience a severe form of cutaneous sporotrichosis, making them a greater risk to transmit infection to other pets and people by puncture wounds or through scratches on the skin. The cutaneous forms produce bumps and lesions, as well as swollen lymph nodes. The lesions often appear as wounds or abscesses mimicking wounds. Associated with fighting, wounds may be found on the head, lumbar region, or distal limbs. Often there is a history of poor response to previous antibiotic therapy. The disseminated form of this infection is rare, but occurs when initial infection spreads into the body via a secondary location. Signs of sporotrichosis may include malaise and fever, as well as spread to the bones, joints, and brain, and in more serious cases, loss of appetite and weight loss. Pulmonary sporotrichosis can occur as a result of inhalation of sporothrix spores, and may result in coughing and pneumonia in affected pets. Diagnosis is made via examination of the fluid and fungal cultures of affected tissues. Treatment involves the use of systemic antifungal drugs including Ketaconazole or Itraconazole and may require several weeks of treatment. Vet Tip Certain fungal infections in cats can be spread to humans, so caution and careful hygiene is recommended when handling infected cats.