In this post, we’ll explain what feline sporotrichosis is, what signs to watch out for, what you should know to ensure the best treatment for your pet and how to prevent it.
What is Sporotrichosis in cats?
Feline sporotrichosis is a disease caused by the fungus Sporothrix schenckii. This organism causes subcutaneous mycoses in cats , people or dogs, when it enters through existing wounds in the skin or through thorns.
It is, therefore, known as “gardeners’ disease”, because in the 19th century many of these professionals in the United States were diagnosed with mycosis. Because they were in direct contact with the soil and rose plantations, they were constantly scratched and contaminated by the fungus.
Despite the incidence in people, the disease predominantly affects felines and cases of feline sporotrichosis in humans and dogs are much less frequent.
Sporotrichosis transmission: how does it happen?
The fungi that we just mentioned proliferate in places that cats, in general, love: tree bark , on the stems of plants and in the soil.
When playing or going through these places, scratching the wood or burying their waste, the fungi can get stuck in the animals’ nails , in splinters or thorns stuck in the body.
Direct contact with mycosis caused by the fungus, such as bites and scratches from infected cats, can transmit the disease to other beings.
Sporotrichosis in cats: symptoms
You should suspect that your cat has contracted the disease when you notice a wound on the skin , especially close to the muzzle, which does not heal.
The symptoms of sporotrichosis in cats are progressive, becoming more severe as time passes. That’s why it’s so important that you see a vet as soon as you notice any signs.
1st stage: cutaneous sporotrichosis
It all starts with the skin phase. The fungus in cats will cause mycoses similar to deep wounds in the skin, reddened and with secretions like pus. It may look like your cat has been through a fight, but the lumps that develop do not heal on their own.
In general, cats scratch themselves on the face and that is why injuries appear more in this region.
2nd stage: lymphocutaneous
If sores are not treated quickly, they can progress to the lymphocutaneous stage, which is when they develop into ulcers with oozing skin. Because they become deeper, they can compromise the lymphatic system of cats.
3rd stage: disseminated
At this stage, the fungi have already spread throughout the body and can affect the internal organs , making recovery more difficult. Your pet may have:
- Lack of appetite and weight loss
- Problems in the respiratory system
- In addition to wounds in several parts.
At this stage, it is important to warn: many tutors tend to abandon the animal, without being aware that there may still be a cure and that the cat needs care and affection.
By going out into the streets, he can contaminate other animals or people. The best thing to do if the disease is already very advanced is to guarantee the cremation of the cat in case of death, in order to interrupt the cycle of transmission of sporotrichosis.
How is the diagnosis made?
When suspecting the signs that indicate sporotrichosis in cats, make an appointment with the veterinarian quickly.
Report about your feline’s customs, if he has contact with land and plants, if he had any misunderstandings with other cats.
After a clinical analysis, the doctor may perform laboratory tests, such as:
- Fungal culture , which may indicate the presence of Sporothrix in the blood
- Histopathological examination , which will assess the nature of the lesions in cats
- Cytological examination to investigate possible tumors.
Is there a cure for sporotrichosis? How is the treatment done?
When we talk about animal diseases, the sooner you go to the vet, the greater the chances of cure. As we said, the cat responds better to treatment if the sporotrichosis is in its early stages.
When diagnosed, treatment for sporotrichosis should last about six months and has a high cost. If it is stopped before this period, the wounds may reappear.
An antifungal is used monthly. The dose will be determined by the veterinarian, according to the stage of the disease.
In general, six months of treatment is recommended, however, it may be that after two months the skin wounds have completely disappeared.
Although sporotrichosis is a zoonosis, that is, it can be transmitted to humans , the good news is that, as it is treatable, euthanasia is not necessary in most cases.
How to prevent?
As there is no vaccine for sporotrichosis , the best way to avoid the disease is to prevent your kitten from going outside and having contact with sick cats.
For this, castration is a factor of enormous importance, as the animal becomes more docile and more homely.
In addition, it is worth highlighting the need for good hygiene in the environment where your cat circulates:
Some substances eliminate fungi from the environment, but care must be taken not to kill plants. In this case, it is best to wash it with vinegar, a great way to get rid of fungus.
If your cat is contaminated, whenever you handle it, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly . It is very common for cats to bite or scratch their guardians, especially when wounds are being treated, thanks to the discomfort. So, be very careful, because, as we said, cat fungus in humans transmits disease.
Also, most illnesses can be prevented with regular trips to the vet . He will be able to more easily identify the animal’s symptoms, quickly diagnose it and begin treatment.