Fungal Infection of Bladder and/or Urethra in Cats
Fungi are usually found on the skin of cats and are also prevalent in the outer environment. These organisms are harmless most of the time, or the body is adept at fighting off any ill effects the fungus might have. Fungal infections are uncommon in cats. In some cases, however, some types of fungus may inhabit and infect the lower urinary tract, causing symptoms of infection. The fungus may also appear in the urine after being released from the kidneys. Infection is not apparent in all cases, and may be present for some time before becoming symptomatic.
Cats of any age, breed, or gender may be affected.
Symptoms and Types
Even when a fungal infection has become well established in the lower urinary tract, there are many cats that display no clinical symptoms. However, in others the following symptoms may be seen:
- Difficulty in passing urine
- Increased frequency of small amounts of urine
- Blood in urine (hematuria)
Following are the risk factors which may predispose your cat to a lower urinary tract fungal infection. Frequent access to the outdoors, in combination with any of these factors can increase the risk.
- Diabetes mellitus
- Placement of urinary catheters
- Concurrent lower urinary tract bacterial infections
- Excessive use of antibiotics
You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your cat's health, including a description of the symptoms and the time of onset. After taking a detailed history, your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination on your dog. Laboratory tests will include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The results of the complete blood count and biochemistry profile are often normal. However, if a fungal infection has spread to other body organs, the abnormalities in these tests will depend on which of the organs is being affected.
Urinalysis is important in the diagnosis of this disease as the fungus is often passed into the urine and the laboratory testing may confirm the presence of the fungus in urine. Your veterinarian will also recommend a urine culture test, which will allow for the growing and identification of the causative fungus. Various species of fungi can be identified on the basis of their different growth patterns and characteristics on culture. More specific tests are also available for the identification of the most common species of fungi that cause infections in animals. Your veterinarian will recommend these tests if the fungus that is involved in the infection could not be identified by the culture testing.
Fungal infections are uncommon in cats, usually occurring in the presence of other certain risk factors that are known to predispose a cat to fungal infections. Identifying and correcting these risk factors is important for the overall treatment of these infections. Antifungal drugs will be prescribed to eliminate the infection, with the duration of the treatment varying according to the individual animal. A urinary catheter may be used to infuse drugs directly in to the lower urinary tract, with repeat infusions given if required until the cat has completely recovered.
Living and Management
In some cats long-term treatment may be required for the complete resolution of clinical symptoms. During treatment, urine samples will again be collected and sent to the laboratory for culture testing. Usually two urine cultures are performed at a 10-14 day interval to see if the fungal infection has resolved or not. The fungal culture will be repeated two months after the cessation of therapy.
You’ll need to take care of your cat's diet and also adhere to your veterinarian's recommendations regarding treatment. Monitor the appearance of your cat's urine as much as possible for changes in the color of the fluid, and to note if the cat is having difficulty urinating. If anything appears out of the ordinary, consult your veterinarian so that adjustments to the treatment can be made.