Ringworm is a fungal infection that feeds off the skin’s superficial layers. Dermatophyte infections most commonly affect your cat’s head, ears, and legs. It causes your cat’s fur to fall out and skin inflammation. The primary physical symptom is extreme itchiness.
The early treatment of ringworm in cats is recommended. It’s a contagious condition that can be transferred to other household pets and humans. Recovering from ringworm can be frustrating for cats that are used to roaming outdoors. Cats will make a full recovery with no lasting effects.
- 1 What is Ringworm in Cats?
- 2 What Happens When a Cat Gets Ringworm?
- 3 Cat Ringworm Treatments
- 4 Will My Cat Get Ringworm Again?
- 5 How Long Does Ringworm Take to Heal?
- 6 Will Ringworm in Cats Go Away on its Own?
- 7 Petting a Cat with Ringworm
- 8 How Can Ringworm in Cats Be Prevented?
What is Ringworm in Cats?
Ringworm (dermatophytosis) is a fungal infection that affects a cat’s skin, fur, and nails. The name comes from the appearance of ringworm (a series of raised, inflamed rings on the skin.)
How Do Cats Get Ringworm?
Ringworm is caused by exposure to fungi. It can infect any cat at any time. Younger and older cats are more likely to become infected due to their weaker immunity, though.
The fungal spores that cause ringworm can lay dormant for up to two weeks. This means that it’s not always obvious that a cat is carrying the infection.
A cat could be exposed to these fungal spores by encountering another cat with ringworm. This is more likely if your cat wanders outside. There is no way of knowing who or what they’ll meet.
It’s not just cats that carry the ringworm fungi, though. A human petting a cat with ringworm could pass it on a pet. Similarly, the same strain of fungi is shared between cats and dogs.
The spores can also become trapped in furniture. If you have a ringworm outbreak in your home, it’s crucial that you wash and clean everything in your property.
Grooming materials such as clippers, hairbrushes, and scissors should also be sterilized regularly.
What Happens When a Cat Gets Ringworm?
Ringworm can be hard to spot in cats, especially in longhaired breeds. As the condition primarily affects the skin of felines, it can easily be disguised by fur.
Sometimes, ringworm is also apparent on fur. The markings will appear on your cat’s coat or nails. It’s worth checking, especially if your pet roams outdoors. The symptoms include:
- Scales developing on the skin and fur, such as the face
- Fur falling out in clumps, leaving behind patches of inflamed, crusty skin
- Thick and tough patches of skin
- Red and inflamed skin, usually found in patches
- Fungus under your cat’s claws
- Extreme itchiness or inflamed skin patches
Some cats do not display any symptoms. This does not mean that the cat in question will not spread the infection. They just won’t show any obvious signs of having the condition.
If you suspect that your cat has ringworm, there is no need to go to the vet. You can start treatment at home immediately, if that’s your preference.
If you have your cat tested for ringworm, you can confirm or rule out the problem.
What Tests Will a Vet Perform to Confirm a Diagnosis?
There are two primary tests that confirm a ringworm infection:
- Wood’s Lamp Illumination. This involves shining an ultraviolet light over your cat’s fur. If ringworm spores are detected, these spores will glow green under this light source.
- Examination of Hair and Skin. Samples of your cat’s fur and skin will be taken and checked under a microscope. The samples may need to be sent to a specialist laboratory.
Wood’s lamp illumination is the most straightforward test. However, this method is not failsafe. Sometimes the spores do not glow, and certain ointments or skin ailments give a false positive. Consequently, two different types of tests are usually needed.
In complex cases, it may take as long as three weeks to get a result from a laboratory. In such cases, it’s advisable to start treatment in the meantime anyway.
Cat Ringworm Treatments
A cat recovering from ringworm must be quarantined as this fungal infection is highly contagious. The moment you realize that your cat has ringworm, isolate him and start treatment.
A cat with ringworm should only be allowed to enter a few rooms. Don’t let him go everywhere in the house. The fungal spores will make their way into all soft furnishings, and even your clothing.
If your cat has ringworm, invest in the largest pet carrier you can find. This should become your cat’s bed until he recovers. This will ensure that your feline has plenty of space.
Your cat needs to eat, drink, and use his litter tray as usual. Supervise these activities. Keep your infected cat away from other pet, and prevent children from interacting with them directly.
It’s usually recommended that you seek medical treatments for ringworm (rather than home remedies) as these are proven to work. Popular medications that are often prescribed include:
- Medicated Shampoos. Many vets will prescribe a medicated shampoo, such as BioHex. This will involve shampooing a cat twice weekly until the condition clears up.
- Topical Creams. Creams containing Miconazole will get rid of ringworm, provided that your cat doesn’t lick the cream off. Daktarin and Monistat are the most common prescription creams.
- Oral Drugs. Options include itraconazole, griseofulvin, terbinafine, and fluconazole. These take longer to work than topical treatments, but are very effective.
Will My Cat Get Ringworm Again?
Ringworm is a fungal infection, so there’s always a chance of it returning.
Try to find out why your cat developed ringworm in the first place. Was he after playing with or fighting a neighborhood cat? If so, you may decide to keep your cat home in the future.
Cleaning and sterilizing your cat’s home is critical because fungi can be particularly stubborn. If you don’t clear the environment, the spores can reattach themselves to your cat.
Remember the conditions that fungal spores need to survive and flourish. Humid and dark conditions are home to fungi. Ensure that fresh air is distributed throughout your home.
How to Clean a Cat’s Home After Ringworm
Killing the ringworm spores on your cat is only half the battle. You’ll also need to undergo a vigorous cleaning regime to disinfect and cleanse the environment.
Put everything (clothes, cushion covers, pillows, bedsheets, and curtains) through a hot laundry cycle. Once everything is dry and ready to be returned to its place, get an antifungal spray. Lysol and OdoBan are among the most reputable brands.
You’ll also need to remove fungal spores from carpets and rugs. It’s unlikely that spores will survive here as they need moisture to flourish, but it’s possible.
Carpets and rugs should be steam cleaned. If you apply carpet shampoo, they’ll be even cleaner. Add some antifungal spray for another flourish before a thorough vacuuming.
You’ll need to clean your cat’s belongings, too. His litter tray, and food and water bowls, must be thoroughly disinfected. Dilute roughly one cup of bleach with one gallon of water.
How Long Does Ringworm Take to Heal?
A quality ringworm treatment will clear up the condition. This means that your cat should make a full recovery within three weeks.
You should start to see signs of progress within a couple of days. There is no hard-and-fast rule surrounding this, though. Patience is a virtue when it comes to treating feline ringworm.
If you do not see the results that you hoped for after three weeks, seek veterinary guidance. Your cat may need a different treatment or a new diagnosis.
How Can You Tell if Ringworm is Healing in Cats?
Within a few days, you should start to see an improvement in your cat’s condition. His skin will look less inflamed and the condition of his fur will improve.
Your cat will also be less agitated over time. He’ll scratch less and become less irritable.
You’ll have to be vigilant about keeping up the treatment. Don’t cease medicating your pet unless you’re advised to do so. Half-treating a pet will not resolve the issue.
Will Cat Fur Grow Back After Ringworm is Treated?
Your cat’s fur will grow back after successful treatment of ringworm. Bald patches are a symptom of the infection. Once it clears up, his fur will return.
Prevent your cat from licking and biting his ringworm scales to excess. This can delay the regrowth of fur. Your cat will need patience and understanding during this time as it’ll itch like crazy.
Will Ringworm in Cats Go Away on its Own?
If a cat with ringworm is not treated, the condition will eventually clear up on its own. This is not a recommended course of action, though.
For a start, it could take four months for ringworm to clear up. Also, this means that your cat will be carrying the ringworm fungi for this entire time, potentially infecting other cats, dogs, and humans.
Petting a Cat with Ringworm
While your cat has ringworm, you’ll need to handle him with care. Remember, ringworm is just as contagious to humans as it is to other household pets.
This does not mean that you should ignore your cat, though. As your pet will be quarantined, he’ll need your attention more than ever. Follow these protocols:
- Wear gloves while handling your cat and wash your hands with antibacterial soap.
- Wash your clothing regularly on a hot cycle.
- Avoid skin on skin contact with your cat, such as rubbing faces.
How Can Ringworm in Cats Be Prevented?
Ringworm cannot be immunized against. There is no vaccine for the infection, and it can return after being previously treated.
All you can do to prevent ringworm in cats is to avoid exposure. This means keeping your cat indoors, so he doesn’t interact with infected neighborhood felines.
You’ll also have to be careful that your cat doesn’t develop ringworm from other sources. That includes yourself, and your dog.
Test for ringworm before bringing another pet into your home. If pet sitting, ask them to arrange the test. If adopting from a shelter, where contagious infections are rife, arrange an advance test.
If you suspect that your cat has ringworm, get them treated ASAP. Keep your home clear of potential fungal breeding grounds, too.
With the right steps, your cat will recover in full. You’ll have to be patient and wait for about three weeks. Once this time is over, your cat will be free to go about his business as usual.