While many people cringe at the thought of any kind of fungi infecting themselves or their pets, the majority of healthy felines do have traces of zygomycete fungi present either on their skin or in their fur. For the most part, these fungi do not often cause any issues for a healthy cat. However, in rare cases, it can cause a skin issue known as Zygomycosis.
Zygomycosis involves Zygomycete fungi, which are a specific class of fungi that actually includes multiple types of fungi. Mucorales, Entomophthorales and Rhizopus are all included under Zygomycetes and can all cause Zygomycosis in a cat.
Symptoms of Zygomycosis in Cats
Zygomycosis causes an infection within the blood vessels of the cat, where it moves throughout the cat’s body, wrecking havoc. As mentioned before, it generally does not cause issues in healthy cats, but it can cause an infection in a cat who suffers from a compromised immune system.
In cats, there are two forms of Zygomycosis: the subcutaneous form and the visceral form. In the subcutaneous form, the skin and the issues of the body are affected, resulting in skin nodules that may ulcerate or drain fluids. Skin nodules may appear in larger numbers, small numbers, or in some cases, there many only be a single nodule present.
Meanwhile, the visceral form of feline Zygomycosis causes the nodules to develop within the body, such as in the liver, the lungs, the lymph nodes or within the cat’s gastrointestinal tract. Unfortunately, the visceral form is often more deadly than it’s subcutaneous counterpart. Cats who are suffering from visceral Zygomycosis may also be prone to vomiting, bloody stool, jaundice, diarrhea and pneumonia. As the infection progresses, the nodules can spread into the heart. Once the heart is infected, death almost always occurs.
Diagnosing Feline Zygomycosis
When Zygomycosis is suspected, the veterinarian will perform fungal cultures to confirm the presence of one of the Zygomycetes. With the subcutaneous form, the nodules can be trained and the liquid can be examined beneath a microscope to determine if a Zygomycete fungi is present.
Treating Zygomycosis in Cats
Treatment varies depending on the severity of the infection in the cat. Though, for many cats, both forms are often treated using surgical removal of the nodules so long as the nodules in question are accessible. Surgical removal is often combined with various medications, including potassium iodide, amphotericin B or benzimidazoles.
Unfortunately, even with treatment, very few cats beat Zygomycosis.
Go Pets America: Zygomycosis
Pet Education: Zygomycosis in Cats