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Key takeaways

Candida is a yeast-like fungus that exists as part of the normal flora of cats. Candidiasis is a condition where there is an overgrowth of this fungus within the body in cats.

  • Most commonly occurs on the skin or mucous membranes, but can occur almost anywhere
  • Caused from either tissue damage or immunocompromisation from cancer, diabetes, viral infection, or medication
  • Symptoms often depend on the area affected, and may include a rash-like appearance, sneezing, nasal discharge, swollen eyes, a distended abdomen, or ataxia
  • Diagnosis includes fungal cultures, biopsies or cytology, bloodwork, urinalysis, and diagnostic imaging
  • Treatment involves antifungal medication and treatment of the underlying cause
  • Prognosis varies from good (in cases of skin infection) to poor (in cases of systemic or disseminated infection)
  • While candidiasis relapse can occur, there is no known prevention
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A closer look: Candidiasis in Cats

Candidiasis is rarely observed in cats, and is often non life-threatening.

Candidiasis most commonly affects the skin or mucous membranes, but can also occur almost anywhere in the body, such as the eyes, mouth, internal organs, central nervous system, or muscle.

Cases of candidiasis that are systemic or disseminated (spread throughout the body) carry a more guarded prognosis.

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Risk factors

Most cases of candidiasis are external, involving the skin or mucous membranes. Rarely, a systemic or disseminated infection may occur, which can lead to more serious symptoms depending on the area(s) that have been affected.

Possible causes

Candidiasis is caused by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida. Although a normal part of a cat's flora, Candida is an opportunistic organism, and can quickly replicate in the body.

Administration of antibiotics or immunosuppressive medication can also put cats at risk of candidiasis.

Tissue damage/injury: Candidiasis is more likely to occur in cats with damage involving the skin, mucous membranes, or internal organs. Examples include intravenous or urinary catheterization, injections into the joints, burns, or urinary retention after urethrostomy.

Main symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on what area is infected.

Other symptoms are often non-specific.

Testing and diagnosis

In cases involving the skin, specifically diagnosing candidiasis vs. another type of fungal infection is not always necessary, as they are often treated similarly.

Even a suspicion of a fungal infection is often enough to initiate treatment.

Diagnosis may include various diagnostic tests, including:

  • Bloodwork
  • PCR tests
  • Fungal culture
  • Urinalysis
  • Cytology of lesions
  • Biopsy of affected area
  • Diagnostic imaging

Steps to Recovery

Treatment depends on the area affected, and typically involves administration of antifungal medication, as well as managing the underlying cause, such as removal of catheters, stopping immunosuppressive medications, and controlling disease (such as diabetes or hyperadrenocorticism). Recurrence of candidiasis can occur. It is important to re-test for infection after treatment, and to monitor for further symptoms after resolution.

Without treatment, cats often cannot clear the Candida infection. With treatment, the prognosis varies based on many factors, including area of infection, severity of infection, and whether or not it is disseminated. Candidiasis of the skin has a good prognosis, while disseminated candidiasis comes with a guarded to poor prognosis.

Relapse of candidiasis may occur, and some cats may suffer from lasting effects of infection.


There is no known prevention for candidiasis.

Candida exists within the normal flora, and it is therefore not contagious or zoonotic.

Is Candidiasis in Cats common?

Candidiasis is rarely observed in cats.

Typical Treatment

  • Antifungal medication
  • Stopping immunosuppressive medication
  • Treatment of underlying disease or conditions

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