Ringworm in Cats – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Ringworm in Cats

While you may not really know this about ringworms, they are not actually worms at all. In fact, it is a fungus that can affect the hair, skin and nails. It is not uncommon to see ringworm in cats. In fact, many people actually catch ringworm from cats. It is highly contagious, and can lead to serious skin irritation in your cat.

The Symptoms of Ringworm in Cats

There are a few classic signs and symptoms of ringworm in cats, and it usually involves skin lesions and bald patches with bright red rings around them. In some cases, the ringworm may be more severe and it may cause severe skin infection at the site of the irritation. In milder cases, cats may not really lose hair at all, and may simply deal with dandruff or redness.

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It is important to keep your cat treated for ringworm regularly to ensure that it doesn’t become an issue.

How Ringworm is Contracted

Cats typically get ringworms through direct contact with ringworm spores.

This can be either from an infected animal, or through indirect contact with their bedding or other types of materials that may have come in contact with ringworm spores. These spores are pretty resilient and they aren’t really affected by the environment. In fact, many of them live up to a year or more!

Risk Factors

While all cats are susceptible to getting ringworm, it is much more common in kittens that haven’t yet reached a year old, and older senior cats. Cats with long hair or compromised immune systems are also at a higher risk of getting ringworm. It spreads quickly, especially in shelters, so if your cat came from a shelter it may be a good idea to get them checked out and treated if necessary.

What to Do if Your Cat has Ringworm

If you have found that your cat has ringworm, or suspect that it could be possible, you really need to call your veterinarian. They will be able to accurately diagnose the condition and give you the best method of treatment possible. Since it is such a contagious infection, you really need to address it right away instead of letting it go untreated.

Also, wash your hands often to ensure that you don’t catch it. It may also be a good idea to quarantine your cat and keep him away from other animals in your home, just to make sure that they all stay safe.

Diagnosing Ringworm in Cats

The truth is, not all cats that have ringworm will actually show signs and symptoms of it. Diagnosing ringworm is not typically done by just physically looking at the cat’s skin. It may require ultraviolet light, cultures or biopsies to really give an accurate diagnosis. Your vet will be able to determine the best course of testing to ensure that the diagnosis is accurate.

Treatment Options

So, your cat has a ringworm diagnosis? Where do you go from there?

Chances are your veterinarian will offer you a few treatment options, but here are some of the most effective ways to treat:

  • Medicated shampoo
  • Medicated ointment
  • Oral medications
The type of treatment method that is recommended for your cat will depend greatly on the severity of the condition. If they have a very severe condition, they may require several forms of treatment. Some cats may even require extended treatment for months at a time to ensure that the condition has been completely eradicated. This is something worth talking to your veterinarian about.

Once you complete the prescribed treatment regimen, you will definitely want to schedule a follow up visit to make sure that there are no recurring infections.

They will also recommend that you treat the environment that your cat is around. For instance, you may need to get rid of their bedding and get new bedding. It may be okay to just wash the items, but you must make sure to do it with the medicated shampoo if you really want it to be effective.

Preventing the Spreading of Ringworm

Since ringworm is so highly contagious, it is really important for you to take some time to prevent it from spreading. You will start by bathing your pets in a medicated shampoo and rinse as directed. Then, you will want to wash their bedding thoroughly to ensure that you get rid of all of the ringworm spores. You also might use a disinfectant spray just to be on the safe side.

Some items may not be easy for you to clean and disinfect. You may need to get rid of any items that are carpeted, such as cat houses or cat trees. You can never be too safe, so you don’t want to just keep something around that could reinfect your cat down the road.

Vacuuming your house is another great thing that you can do. This will help to get rid of the hairs and skin cells that may be infected with ringworm. The truth is, the fungus can actually live on the skin and hair that is shed by your cat!

To prevent the ringworm from spreading to you or members of your family, you will want to wash your hands frequently and make others wash their hands as well. If you do notice ringworm on someone in your household, get it treated right away. Human ringworm is treated in a similar way, through the use of antifungal ointments or crèmes.

The Risks of Untreated Ringworm

If you do not treat your cat’s ringworm infection right away, then complications could arise.

In fact, skin lesions are one of the most common complications that come from ringworm. These lesions can spread over their whole body, and can lead to severe skin infections and hair loss. You can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your cat from ringworm. Make sure that you don’t let it go too far. Have your cat seen regularly by your veterinarian, especially because many conditions may go without sign or symptom for quite some time.

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