Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm (dermatophytosis) is a common skin disorder in cats that is highly contagious to other pets and to people. Children and immunocompromised individuals (e.g. HIV/AIDS patients, cancer patients, patients on immunosuppressive medications) are especially susceptible to ringworm. This website addresses ringworm from a public health standpoint: CDC: Healthy Pets Healthy People: Ringworm

Cats with ringworm may or may not have visible skin lesions. Those who do have visible skin lesions typically have flaky bald patches primarily on the head, ears, and legs.

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 (e.g. no carpet, no fabric covered furniture).
  • 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 (1 ½ cups in 1 gallon of water), 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.

Cause of Ringworm

  • Ringworm, despite its name, has nothing to do with worms. Ringworm is a fungal infection (dermatophytosis) that can be diagnosed with a Wood's Lamp (ringworm lights up fluorescent green), a fungal culture, or a laboratory test.

Treatment of Ringworm

  • The most effective treatment for ringworm in cats is lime dipping in combination with oral anti-fungal medication.
  • Other treatments include the application of topical anti-fungal cream and bathing with anti-fungal shampoo.
  • Program (lufeneron) has been shown to be ineffective against ringworm.
  • Lime dipping in cats can be challenging! The following video has some great tips: Austin Pets Alive!: Cat Ringworm Treatment Training.

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