Diagnosing and Treating Ringworm in Cats

One of the biggest misconceptions about ringworm in cats is that infected cats have physical worms, but this is not the case. Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is actually a highly contagious fungus that affects the cat’s skin, nails, and fur. If it isn’t caught and treated early, the fungus can easily be transmitted to other pets in the home and to family members, as well.

If you think your cat might have ringworm, then this guide will help you learn more about the condition and what to expect when you take your cat to the veterinarian.

Treating ringworm in catsHow Do Cats Contract Ringworm?

Ringworm is an especially strong type of fungus that can remain alive in almost any environment for up to a year. The most common way a cat contracts this disease is by skin-to-skin contact with an infected animal. However, cats can also get it through contact with anything else that might be infected by the spores, including infected children, bedding, dishes, and other materials.

Although any cat can contract ringworm, it is typically found most often in kittens and older felines due to their poor immune systems. Long-haired breeds are more prone than short-hair breeds, and the disease is especially virulent in crowded, warm environments, like animal shelters.

Signs and Symptoms of Ringworm in Cats

The classic signs and symptoms of ringworm can be found on the skin of a cat, and they include:

  • Lesions on the head, ears, and forelimbs
  • Flaky skin
  • Bald patches with red in the center
  • Localized areas of redness

Some cats can carry ringworm with little or no signs of being sick, but for those dealing with extreme cases, the infection can spread over the entire body.

How Does a Vet Diagnose Ringworm?

If you have reason to believe that your cat might have ringworm, then you should take her to the veterinarian as quickly as possible due to the infection’s ability to be transferred to other pets and humans.

The veterinarian will perform a thorough examination of your cat with a focus on her skin. An ultra-violet light may be used to help locate infected patches of skin on the cat’s body, and a fungal culture will usually be taken from one of these spots. A skin biopsy may also be performed and examined to help make a positive diagnosis.

How Is Ringworm Treated?

The type of treatment will depend on how severe your cat’s infection is. In less serious cases, a medicated shampoo or anti-fungal ointment may be prescribed to help eliminate the fungus and prevent it from spreading. In other cases, an oral anti-fungal medication may be prescribed.

When a cat has ringworm, the treatment plan will usually last for a few months or until the fungus has been fully eradicated. It is important to note that along with treating your pet, you will also need to treat your cat’s environment in order to fully get rid of the spores in your home. Here are some tips that will help you keep your home safe for your children and other pets.

  • Bathe all of your other pets in the home using the medicated shampoo
  • Wash your hands immediately after handling your cat or any other pet in the home
  • Wash all of your pet bedding and toys in hot water and with a disinfectant that’s capable of killing ringworm spores
  • Throw out any items that will prove to be impossible to disinfect, such as a carpeted cat tree
  • Vacuum the home frequently so pet hair and dander does not remain behind

If your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with ringworm and prescribes her anti-fungal medications, ointment, or shampoo, you can receive a free quote for the medications from Diamondback Drugs. We can help you save money on all of your cat’s medications.

Author: Giano Panzarella