Malassezia in cats – symptoms, diagnosis and treatment
Malassezia is a type of fungus that normally inhabits the skin of dogs and cats without causing any problems. This microorganism habitually lives on the skin, the auditory channels and the mucous membranes (oral, anal, vaginal). In normal situations, this fungus relates in a mutually beneficial way with other bacteria that naturally exist in cats and dogs. The problem arises when there is an abnormal growth of this fungus that when multiplying in an exaggerated way causes great inflammation in the skin of the dog.
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It is about abnormal growth of the fungus malassezia in cats that YourCatCareguide will speak for you. So you can understand everything about this disease, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Keep reading!
Malassezia pachydermatis in cats
There are several fungi of the genus Malassezia that have already been isolated on the skin, mucosa and auditory channels of cats. Namely, M. sympodialis , M. globosa , M. furfur and M. nana . However, the most common species causing problems in cats is Mallasezia pachydermatis .
Unlike malassezia in dogs , malassezia in cats is much less frequent. But it does exist and you must be alert to it. Generally, this disease is associated with other serious diseases in the cat , namely:
- Leucemia Felina (FeLV)
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) – Feline Aids
- Persian idiopathic facial dermatitis
Some cats, such as sphynx and devon rex, naturally have a higher number of fungi Malassezia spp. compared to other breeds. These breeds present an exaggerated exudation of fat both on the skin and on the legs, a condition that promotes the growth of this type of fungus. If you have a cat of any of these breeds, you should wash it regularly every 7-14 days to remove that excess fat from the body, paws and ears.
Otitis due to malassezia in cats
As we have already mentioned, fungi of the genus Malassezia usually inhabit the auditory channels of domestic cats. However, when there is an abnormal overgrowth of this fungus in this region, malassezia otitis may occur.
According to some studies, the auditory region is the zone most frequently affected by the presence of this fungus in cats. 95% of cats with external otitis have an infection by Malassezia, whether this infection is the primary cause or has emerged as secondary to other causes. Malassezia fungi are opportunistic and take advantage of other infections or problems in the dog’s immune system to reproduce on a large scale.
The most common symptoms of malassezia otitis in cats are:
- Itching in the ear region;
- Inclination of the head
- Bad smell in the ears
- Reddish ears
- Pain when caressing the auditory region.
Read more about otitis in cats in our full article on that subject.
Symptoms of malassezia in cats
In cases of widespread Malassezia in cats, the only symptom they may present is overgrooming , ie excessive hair care . If your cat has a general malassezia infection, you will observe him constantly cleaning himself.
Other symptoms of malassezia in cats are:
- Alopecia (loss of hair)
- Areas of reddish skin
- Feline Acne (on the animal’s chin)
Diagnosis of malassezia in cats
Since, as we have already mentioned, malassezia in cats is often associated with other serious diseases, it is normal for your veterinarian to order several tests to arrive at a diagnosis. Namely a blood test , biochemistry and urine analysis .
The cytology skin and consequently microscopic observation is the most used method for the veterinarian to observe the amount of Malassezia fungi present. If there is a low number of fungi of this genus, it is not considered an illness, since its existence is normal. However, if the number of malassezia fungi observed under the microscope is high, it is highly suggestive of an exaggerated growth.
In addition, a culture may be required , i.e., collecting a skin sample and growing the microorganisms in a suitable medium.
In order to determine exactly the species of Malassezia involved it may still be necessary to perform a PCR .
To determine the cause underlying the abnormal growth of malassezia spp, your veterinarian may still need assistance with other tests such as X-rays, allergy tests, Fiv and Felv tests, and elimination diets.
Treatment of malassezia in cats
The most effective treatment of malassezia in cats is through topical therapy . That is, shampoos, creams and sprays. The specific treatment depends a lot from cat to cat. It is common to do two weekly baths with antifungal shampoos for 4-6 weeks.
If malassezia is secondary to a bacterial infection, your cat will need to take an antibiotic . Your veterinarian may choose a broad-spectrum antibiotic or one that he or she deems most appropriate.
Severe cases of malassezia may require highly potent antifungal agents.
If your cat has a malassezia consequent to any of the diseases that we mentioned before, such as tumors, diseases that alter his immune system, etc., you will need to do the treatment that your veterinarian prescribe for the problem in question.
This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.
If you want to read more articles like Malassezia in cats – symptoms, diagnosis and treatment , we recommend you to enter our section of Skin problems .