Ringworm In Cats: How To Spot Treat And Prevent
Theres a common fungal infection that both humans and animals can get that goes by the name Ringworm. Despite what the name might have you think, there arent any worms with ringworm but its still a medical condition worth addressing.
If you have a suspicion that your furry feline may have ringworm, youre in the right place. Because ringworm is incredibly contagious, weve made a guide to help you spot, treat, and prevent it from occurring in your cat.
Acting quickly and knowing how to treat the issue can prevent it from spreading in your home. Ringworm can go away on its own but will disappear much quicker with treatment. Lets start out by talking about identifying this pesky infection.
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Keep A Clean Home To Remove Ringworm Contamination
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.
What You Can Do
- Your cat needs veterinary care. Ringworm left untreated can get progressively worse, and/or can increase the likelihood of spread to other pets and humans.
- Your cat needs to be kept away from visitors, immunocompromised individuals, and other pets until the ringworm infection is gone.
- Contact all visitors and other family members who came in direct contact with your cat. If they find any skin lesions on themselves, they should see their physician.
- Parents or guardians should closely monitor any children who came in direct contact with your cat. If any skin lesions are found on the children, they should be taken to a physician.
- Contact a veterinarian for advice if any of your pets have been directly exposed to your cat.
- Prevention of spread of ringworm and disinfection of the environment is very important. Ringworm spores can be very hard to eradicate from carpet and furniture. It is best to confine all pets with ringworm to one small room in the house that can be easily disinfected .
- Everyone handling your cat should take precautions such as wearing gloves and a long sleeved shirt, washing hands, and vacuuming/disinfecting areas that your cat has spent time in.
- Household cleaners do not effectively kill ringworm spores. Disinfection should be done with chlorine bleach diluted 1:10 , and care should be taken to avoid exposing pets or people to chlorine bleach fumes.
- This website gives great advice on how to disinfect: eHow: How to Disinfect for Ringworm.
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Lemongrass Oil Or Tea
To use lemongrass oil, mix a few drops of lemongrass oil with a carrier oil. Apply it directly to the skin twice per day. You can also apply a brewed tea bag directly to the ringworm.
Watch A Kitten During A Lime Sulfur Dip Treatment
A spray bottle or garden hose
A sponge cut into small squares
I recommend pouring the lime sulfur dip into a spray bottle or a garden sprayer, which will make it easier to apply. Spray the body, limbs, tail, and paws, getting in between the toe pads. Manually work the liquid into the kittens fur, as if lathering your hair while shampooing. Youll want to use your bathtub or sink for this, and be sure to wear gloves! Never spray a kittens head use a sponge to gently apply the dip to the ears and face, avoiding the eyes, nose, and mouth at all times. When using lime sulfur dip, do not rinse the kitten. Leave the kitten saturated in the dip, which will dry over time. Once the kitten is fully covered, place her immediately into her heated bed so she can stay warm as she dries. Do not leave the kitten in a cool area where her body temperature will drop. Keep her warm!
Medicated Shampoo Method
Anti-fungal shampoos that are obtained online or by a veterinarian can be less caustic and equally effective.
Use warm water to bathe the kitten from the neck down. Wash the kitten with medicated shampoo and lather for five minutes. Use a small sponge to wash the face, avoiding the eyes, nose, and mouth. After five minutes, gently rinse the kitten and towel dry. Place the kitten immediately onto a heat source and fresh bedding.
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How To Recognize And Treat Ringworm In Cats
This article was co-authored by Melissa Nelson, DVM, PhD. Dr. Nelson is a Veterinarian who specializes in Companion and Large Animal Medicine in Minnesota, where she has over 18 years of experience as a veterinarian in a rural clinic. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Minnesota in 1998.There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 93% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 116,288 times.
Ringworm is an infectious skin condition that can affect cats and may be passed on to people. However, the name “ringworm” is misleading because this is a fungal infection, and not caused by a worm. Ringworm is actually caused by a fungal infection, and in cats it is known as feline dermatophytosis. Cats become infected by coming in contact with fungal spores in the environment or on the coats of other infected animals.
The Bottom Line On Ringworm
Hopefully, your cat never deals with a ringworm infection. However, its a good idea to be able to recognize the signs of ringworm just in case. Because ringworm is so contagious, acting promptly can help minimize its spread and keep everyone else in your home safe. Dont try to treat ringworm yourself. Instead, go right to your vet so you know youre using products made for the specific fungus thats causing the infection. Using the correct treatment from the start means your cat will feel better sooner.
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How Long Will My Cat Be Contagious
Infected pets remain contagious for about three weeks if aggressive treatment is used. The ringworm will last longer and remain contagious for an extended time if only minimal measures are taken or if you are not compliant with the prescribed approach. Minimizing exposure to other dogs or cats and to your family members is recommended during this period.
Two consecutive negative fungal cultures will indicate successful treatment of your cat.
What Is Ringworm In Cats
Ringworm might sound like a worm or parasite causes it, but its actually a fungal infection that affects your cats skin and hair. Several types of fungi can cause ringworm infections, and these fungi can also infect humans, dogs, and other cats.
Ringworm can be highly contagious, and your cat could get infected several ways. Ringworm can spread if your cat comes into direct contact with another cat or person with the fungus. Its also possible for your cat to get ringworm by sleeping on a contaminated bed or by coming into contact with surfaces like contaminated combs, food bowls, and furniture.
In many instances, your cat might come into contact with the fungus but not get ringworm. However, factors like a weakened immune system, irritated skin, or the presence of a scratch or wound can increase the chances of your cat becoming infected.
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Natural Home Remedies To Treat Ringworm In Cats
If you own cats long enough, sooner or later, you might see them: little lesions all over the animals skin, right below the fur.
Thats ringworm and if youre not careful, this highly infectious disease can spread all over your cats body, not to mention the other members of your family.
Fortunately, there are a variety of home remedies you can use to stop this nasty visitor in its tracks.
Systemic Therapy For The Cat
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 Is The Treatment For Ringworm In Cats
No one likes giving cats oral medications luckily, there are topical antifungal medications available in the form of creams and sprays that may be effective against ringworm. Clipping fur and dips available at the veterinarian are also useful tools to rid the infection.
Oral anti-fungal medications, such as itraconazole, are often prescribed for more widespread infections or infections that do not clear up with topical therapy. They can be flavored like tuna or other popular cat treats to ease the administration of the oral medications. As mentioned above, environmental decontamination is always an important part of treatment to break the cycle of infection.
A culture for dermatophytes is the only means of truly monitoring a cat’s response to treatment. When the infection is extensive or particularly resistant, treatment can drag on for weeks or months. This makes it more than worthwhile to have hair loss and lesions investigated and diagnosed sooner rather than later.
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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Home Remedies For Ringworm
If you would like to avoid administering fungicides to your pet, youcan opt for a few home remedies for ringworm. Fungicides containsulphur, which may create allergic reactions in some cats.
- Apple cider vinegar is a natural way to relieve itchiness and killthe fungi. Use it as a diluted solution to rinse your cat after bathinghim, or simply apply a few drops on the problem areas.
- Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide. Apply the oil on the baldspots twice per day for a week and your cat should be healed. Otheroils may have the same effects. You can try jojoba oil, neem oil orrosemary oil.
- Fresh, raw papaya can also kill the fungi. Slice a papaya and rub the slices on the affected areas.
- You can use grapefruit seed extract to rinse or rub on your cats skin.
- Garlic can be an effective fungus killer, but make sure the catdoesnt lick his skin after applying the solution. Garlic is toxic forcats.
- You can use diluted bleach, but bleach can cause irritations, burns or dry skin. The cat might lick the bleach, which is toxic.
- If you opt for bleach or garlic, you can use a lamp shade collar toprevent the cat from licking the solutions and getting poisoned.
You can also use these home remedies in conjunction with antifungal creams.
Natural remedies are available to anyone, but you must pay attentionwhen handling your cat, because ringworms are contagious. Make sure youalways wear surgical gloves.
Additional Skin And Immunity Support
Remember – a healthy immune system and skin barrier will be able to fight off ringworm by itself with time, so whatever you can do to help support your cat’s skin health is beneficial. This might include supplementing with Omega Fatty Acids , introducing a pet probiotic , or swapping to a premium quality pet food if you aren’t already feeding one.
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How Do Cats Become Infected With Ringworm
Dermatophytosis is contagious infection. During infection, thousands or millions of microscopic spores are produced around infected hairs and these are the main source of infection for other animals. Infected hairs and spores are shed into the cats environment so other cats may become infected either by direct contact with an infected animal or by exposure to a contaminated environment or object such as grooming tools, clippers or bedding. Spores in the environment can remain infectious for up to two years and are difficult to kill.
Spores will adhere to the skin and this can be the start of a new infection. Although intact skin is quite resistant to infection, any abrasion or damage to the skin will allow infection to develop more readily. Infection is more common in young cats , and in longhaired cats. Younger cats may have poorer natural skin defences and a less well developed immune response and it is possible that long-haired cats groom less efficiently so trapping of spores may be easier and removing of them more difficult.
Does My Cat Have Ringworm
Though signs of ringworm can vary in how they look and their severity, there are certain common symptoms that come with this infection. These include:
hair loss will usually be in circular patches areas of hair loss will often look sore and red with a crusty covering
The above can also be indicative of other skin conditions, so an appointment with your vet will confirm whether your cat has caught the infection or not.
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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.
When To See Your Doctor
You should see your doctor if your symptoms dont clear up or dont respond to treatment within two weeks. You should also go to the doctor if youre in a position that could likely spread it to others, such as if youre a teacher.
In some cases, ringworm wont respond to home remedies or OTC treatments. Your doctor will write you a prescription for an antifungal topical ointment or an oral medication.
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How Is Ringworm In Cats Treated
The most common way to treat ringworm in cats is to use a combination of topical therapy and systemic oral therapy . For treatment to be successful, all environmental contamination must also be eliminated. Ringworm cultures will be done periodically after the start of treatment to determine if your pet is still infected.
“For treatment to be successful, all environmental contamination must also be eliminated.”
DO NOT stop treatment unless your veterinarian has made this recommendation. Stopping treatment too soon can result in a recurrence of the fungus.
If there is more than one pet in the household, try to separate infected from non-infected animals and just treat the infected ones. In some situations, it may be preferable to treat all pets. Your veterinarian will advise you on the best treatment given your individual circumstances.
Topical Treatment Occasionally, topical therapy is used alone for the treatment of ringworm, but more commonly it is used in combination with oral medication. Various creams and ointments containing miconazole , terbinafine , or clotrimazole are available to apply to localized areas of the skin affected by ringworm. Often, these are aided by using a chlorhexidine + miconazole-based shampoo or a lime sulfur dip that can be used twice weekly. Topical treatment will usually be necessary for a period of several weeks to several months.
“The response of individual cats to treatment varies and if therapy is stopped too soon, the disease may recur.”