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How Long Is Ringworm Contagious In Cats

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How Is Ringworm In Cats Diagnosed

Glowing Ringworm in a Cat

Healing a ringworm infection in cats takes time, so the sooner youre able to get started with treatment, the better. The first step to treating ringworm in cats is to eliminate other skin conditions through a proper diagnosis by your veterinarian. Vets often use a Woods lamp to identify ringworm. When exposed to its ultraviolet light, some types of ringworm have spores that glow green.

Even if your cats skin doesnt glow under the special light, its still possible they could have ringworm. Your vet may need to send a hair sample or skin scraping to a lab for further study under a microscope. Technicians can also perform a culture test, which is a method that encourages spores to grow so they can be analyzed. A culture test is the most reliable way to find out if your cat has ringworm, though it can take up to three weeks to get test results.

How To Diagnose Ringworm In Cats & Kittens

If your veterinarian suspects ringworm in your feline companion, there are a few different diagnostic routes they may take.

The first route your vet can take will involve simply gathering a detailed history of your cats exposure risk, and ruling out any other obvious causes of skin irritation and hair loss.

Your vet may rule out the presence of fleas, the possibility of skin allergies, and any other basic skin conditions that mimic signs of ringworm.

Once your vet has performed a physical exam and gathered a detailed history, they may use a Woods lamp to scan their body for any patches of glowing skin.

A large majority of ringworm species will glow under this fluorescent lamp, allowing your vet to diagnose ringworm with minimal testing.

However, its important to note that not all cases of ringworm will glow under this lamp, so this isnt always a definitive diagnostic tool.

If the suspicious area of skin does not glow under the Woods lamp, your vet can suggest a skin culture.

A skin culture will involve placing samples of skin and hair on a culture plate, and sending this plate to the lab for further testing.

If fungal spores grow on this dish within 7-21 days, this will offer a definitive ringworm diagnosis.

However, since this process can take up to 21 days to complete, some vets may begin to treat the lesions as ringworm to be safe.

How Common Is Cat Ringworm

While some diseases are rare, ringworm makes its rounds it is perhaps the most frequently encountered infectious skin disease of cats worldwide. While it can affect any cat, kittens with less robust immune systems are more likely to develop an infection. Long-haired cat breeds are also more susceptible, along with cats in high-population settings , cats with other systemic diseases that may weaken their immune system or cats with poor nutrition.

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Why Is Quarantine Necessary For Cats With Ringworm

The spores that lead to a ringworm infection are highly contagious and very fast moving. Once your cat contracts an infection, spores and dead skin cells will begin shedding off of them at an alarming pace, leading to potential contamination everywhere your cat walks, sits, or sleeps. This can create a cycle of constant reinfection and make your cleaning duties incredibly difficult, as you will need to repeatedly sanitize everywhere your cat has been.

Quarantining your cat can make the entire treatment and necessary cleaning procedures much easier, as your cat is now contained to a smaller area that you have full control over. This will help you care for your cat and sanitize their surroundings much more effectively, leading to lower exposure rates for others in your home and a faster recovery for your cat.

Cats should be quarantined for at least 2 to 4 weeks while being treated for ringworm.

Keep A Clean Home To Remove Ringworm Contamination

Scabs on a Cat

Not only should one or more of these options be implemented, you will also need to eliminate any environmental contamination.

This involves removing and cleaning any bedding they use often, keeping a constant rotation of clean bedding coming each day, and thoroughly cleaning any carpets or rugs in your home.

Spores can persist on a porous surface or material for up to 18 months, so you will want to eliminate any possibility of them being exposed again.

Based on the severity of your cats condition, ringworm treatment can last anywhere from 3 weeks to 12 weeks.

Ringworm treatment should be continued until your cat has two consecutive negative ringworm cultures, or when all areas of hair loss have begun to grow back.

Every case will vary, so we suggest continuing their treatment until your vet says otherwise.

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What Is Ringworm In Cats

Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis, is a fungal infection that affects cats, dogs, and other animal species including humans. Although the fungus is not a worm, the disease is called ringworm because it often causes skin lesions that appear as circular patches of hair loss with crusting that resembles a worm.

There are more than forty different fungi, known as dermatophytes, that can cause dermatophytosis. Dermatophytes require keratin for growth and can result in a superficial infection of the skin, hair, and nails, which is where the keratin protein exists in both humans and animals. There are three species commonly responsible for ringworm in cats, but the majority of feline cases are caused by the fungal species Microsporum canis.

How Long Are Cats With Ringworm Contagious

If aggressive treatment is used, infected cats remain contagious for about 21 days. If minimal measures are taken or if pet owners dont strictly follow the vet-prescribed treatment, the infection will remain contagious for a longer period of time. Two consecutive negative cultures are necessary in order to confirm that your feline friend has been successfully treated.

When treated properly, the majority of cats will completely recover from a ringworm infection. Improvement in the appearance of the lesions should be evident within two to three weeks. If the treatment isnt aggressive enough or is discontinued too early, or if the cat suffers from another medical condition that weakens its immune system, the symptoms might recur.

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Diagnosis Of Ringworm In Cats

Your veterinarian will begin by conducting a thorough physical examination of your cat, looking for bald spots and inflamed or crusted skin. Your vet may also darken the room and shine a Woods lamp, commonly called a black light, over your cats skin and fur. In many cases, if the ringworm is the result of the Microsporum canis fungus, the infection will glow under the black light. Not all cases of ringworm, however, will appear under the black light. If the vet finds visual evidence of a ringworm infection, the vet may take cultures of the skin and fur in those areas to be tested for fungal spores. Although some veterinarians may feel confident in diagnosing ringworm based on visual evidence alone, especially in kittens, a culture that tests positive for fungal spores is the only definitive way to diagnose dermatophytosis. If the cat is known to have been in contact with infected animals or humans but does not exhibit any physical evidence of dermatophytosis, the vet may use a brush or comb to gather hair and skin to be tested for fungal spores.

Systemic Therapy For The Cat

How Long Is Ringworm Contagious?

A number of different oral medications may be given to the cat to treat ringworm systemically . Examples include:

  • Griseofulvin: This was the traditional treatment and it was highly effective, but its availability is now very limited in many countries. Side effects of griseofulvin include adverse effects on unborn kittens , and this is one of the reasons why the product has fallen out of use.
  • Itraconazole: This is now the only licensed antifungal medication for ringworm in the UK and some other countries. It is formulated as a liquid that is given once daily for a week. It is then withheld for a week, then followed by another week of treatment. This regime continues, so that treatment is given on weeks one, three and five, but not on weeks two and four.

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What Cures Ringworm In Cats

For mild cases of ringworm infection, a vet will prescribe a topical ointment, an anti-fungal cream, or a medicated shampoo. Youll have to apply these products to your cats affected skin directly to get rid of ringworm.

If topical medications dont work, your vet will prescribe oral anti-fungal medications. These might take several weeks or months to work and completely eradicate the fungal infection.

The Microsporum Canis fungi can remain infectious for up to 1 ½ years, so you need to prevent recurrence during the ringworm recovery period.

How Do Cats Catch Ringworm

As the skin disease is contagious, it is fairly easy for your cat to get ringworm by coming into contact with another infected cat or being in an environment where ringworm has been present.

This is especially the case in multi-cat households because its spread through infected hair and skin follicles which cats naturally shed.

Ringworm is much more common in young cats and long haired cats. This is because young cats are more susceptible to the infection due to their immune systems not being fully developed. Long haired cats have the perfect breeding ground in their long hair because spores can get trapped easier and are harder to remove.

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How Long Should You Quarantine A Cat With Ringworm

It is Ringworm is highly infectious so if your cat has contracted ringworm, youll need to take steps immediately to quarantine her to stop it from spreading throughout your household.

Yes, animals and humans can transmit the skin fungus ringworm between each other. Therefore, your family members and other animals are at risk of catching it. For information on the condition what it is, what it looks like, and how to treat it, .

Signs Of A Ringworm Infection

Ringworm Causes Dry, Itchy Skin

Some cats with ringworm have no signs of infection but can still pass it to other animals and people. Other cats develop severe ringworm symptoms.

A dead giveaway that your cat has ringworm are round bald patches that expose scaly pink sores. Youre most likely to notice these infected spots on the face, ears, tail, and feet. But not all cats will have that symptom. Other signs your cat may have ringworm include:

  • Bald spots with red, itchy bumps
  • Constant grooming and scratching of the same area
  • Ashy dandruff

In many cats, it can be tricky to tell whether they have ringworm. It can look like a lot of other common skin conditions in cats, such as flea allergy dermatitis and mange, says Jessica Lowe, DVM, medical director of VCA Beacon Hill Cat Hospital. She recommends making an appointment for an exam with your local vet, who can test for ringworm.

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How Long Does It Take For Ringworm To Be Cured

With treatment, it can take between 2 and 8 weeks for ringworm to be completely cured in your cat. Most cats show signs of improvement and are no longer infectious around the 2- to 4-week mark, which is why most cat quarantines can be ended around this time.

Your cat will need a revaluation at the vet after 4 weeks of treatment to determine the level of progress your cat is making, and will likely need regular fungal cultures at future vet appointments for the next year or so to confirm that the ringworm is permanently gone.

Causes Of Ringworms In Cats

Ringworm transmission occurs through direct contact with the fungus. It may be passed by direct contact with an infected animal or person, the soil, or a contaminated surface. The fungal spore is very hardy and can survive and remain dormant on bedding, carpet, furniture, brushes, and/or other surfaces for up to 18 months. Direct contact with a fungal spore causes infection, but the skin must already be open, through a scrap or scratch, in order to infect. The fungus cannot infect healthy, intact skin.

Predisposing factors for ringworm infection include:

  • Age: Kittens and geriatric cats with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for infection.

  • Lifestyle: Free-roaming or outdoor animals are more likely to encounter fungal spores from the environment.

  • Climate: Cats that live in warmer, more humid climates have a higher infection rate.

  • Care: Cats who live in a densely populated environment or receive poor nutrition are at a higher risk for infection due to the contagious and resistant nature of this fungus.

  • Health: Immune suppression can increase the risk of ringworm infection, but this is seen more in humans than in cats.

The period of time between exposure to the fungus and the development of lesions is usually between 7 to 14 days, though with some cases, 3 to 4 weeks may pass before signs are noted.

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How To Treat Your Home To Kill Ringworm

Ringworm can be easily transmitted to people, especially children, through environmental contamination, which is why its important to meticulously clean your home to kill any remaining fungal spores.

  • Start by cleaning and disinfecting solid surfaces by using a diluted bleach solution. Keep the solution on the surface for 10 minutes to make sure the area is completely disinfected.
  • Vacuum the carpets in order to remove all infected hairs and, if possible, steam clean them to eliminate the spores.
  • Clean tile and hardwood floors with a damp, disposable cloth and avoid using brooms.
  • Launder bedding, small area rugs, and soft items like toys. Vacuum drapes and upholstered furniture, and discard the vacuum cleaner bag. Use duct tape to remove any hair the vacuum missed from the furniture.

What Are Ringworms In Cats

Feline Ringworm is NOT as Contagious as You Think

Ringworms or ringworm are the common names for dermatophytosis, a fungal infection that can affect a cats skin, hair, and nails. The fungus, which feeds on dead cells, is not actually a wormthe name originated from the classic round red target-shaped lesion surrounded by a scaly ring mostly seen in humans with ringworm. In cats, youre more likely to notice hair loss and scaly lesions of any shape.

There are several types of fungus that can cause ringworm:

  • Some are species-specific, meaning they only infect one type of animal.

  • Others can be contagious between different species, which means they can move from pets to humans. These are called zoonotic.

  • One species of dermatophyte, Microsporum canis, is responsible for almost all ringworm infections in cats. It is also infectious to humans and dogs.

  • In some cases, ringworm infections in cats can be caused by Trichophyton mentagrophytes. This species is also contagious to humans.

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How Does It Spread

Ringworm spreads through direct contact with infected skin or fungal spores. The spores can live on fabrics, including clothing, couch cushions, bedding, and other porous surfaces. They also thrive in damp environments, such as public showers and locker rooms.

Ringworm is the same fungus that causes athletes foot and jock itch. As a result, if a person has ringworm, they should avoid touching their groin area or feet. Doing so could cause the ringworm to spread to these parts of the body.

A person who contracts ringworm from a pet cannot pass it on to another human. In this case, the fungus can only pass from animal to human.

While anyone can get ringworm, certain factors can increase a persons risk of developing the infection. These include:

  • living in a hot, humid environment
  • sweating heavily
  • participating in contact sports, such as wrestling or football
  • using locker rooms or public showers
  • wearing tight shoes

Once a person or pet has ringworm, it is important to prevent the infection from spreading.

How Long To Quarantine Cat With Ringworm

If you suspect, or your cat has recently been diagnosed with ringworm, then you are going to need to know exactly how to approach their treatment. Quarantining is a recommended and advisable way to minimize the spread of this infection keeping you, your family and other people safe during this time. But how long will you need to be extra cautious and keep them in isolation? I spent some time researching the topic and will be sharing with you the key insights and pieces of information I found here with you today.

So, how long do you quarantine a cat with ringworm? A cat that has ringworm should be quarantined for 14-28 days/ 2-4 weeks. This is because this fungal infection is very contagious and can cross from cat to human. However, this time may need to be extended if your cat continues to get ringworm outbreaks. It is generally advised to continue treatment, such as giving your cat ringworm cultures, regularly following infection to ensure they overcome this condition for good.

Ringworm, despite what its name suggests, hasnt got anything to do with worms, but rather it resembles athletes foot in humans.

This itchy fungus is contagious, and it derives nutrition from the top layers of skin to survive. Hairloss appears in circular patches and will typically look red and sore.

If you notice those circular patches in your cat, its more than likely ringworm, and your cat will need immediate veterinary attention.


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How To Treat Ringworm In Cats & Kittens

Many cases of ringworm will resolve on their own in a healthy cat, but this can take up to 6 months to occur.

In order to limit the spread and decrease the risk of spreading the fungus in your home, we always suggest treating ringworm from the moment its diagnosed.

The most common treatment approach for ringworm in cats and kittens is often a combination of two or more of the following options:

  • Medicated baths
  • Fungal ointment
  • Oral antifungal medications

Oral medications are typically reserved for more severe cases of ringworm, while baths and ointments are often the first line of defense.

Each of these options will need to be prescribed by your veterinarian, as these are often the only solutions that are strong enough to get the job done.

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