In spite of its name, Ringworm in Cats is not caused by a parasite, but by various different types of fungi. The signs in cats are relatively inconspicuous in many cases, with the loss of just a few hairs. Unfortunately ringworm can be spread to people from cats.
You may be alerted to the problem if you or another member of your family develops circular red patches on the skin, especially on the forearms. You will need to seek medical as well as veterinary help.
It is often possible for your vet to give you a rapid diagnosis if you suspect that your pet has ringworm. The most common type of ringworm fungus fluoresces when a special light from an instrument called a Wood’s Lamp is shone on to it.
The affected area stands out very clearly as apple-green in a darkened room. Even so, there are some other forms of fungus which cause ringworm that do not react in this way, so that further tests will be necessary if a negative result follows from an examination with a Wood’s lamp.
Your vet will then need to take hair and skin samples to see if the fungus can be cultured on a special medium, although it is likely to take two or three weeks for a definitive result to be obtained. Treatment usually entails use of the anti-fungal drug called griseofulvin, in the form of tablets.
A relatively long course of treatment, lasting perhaps three months, is required under these circumstances, with the drug working its way up through the skin. Your vet may also cut back affected areas of the cat’s hair, washing the area to kill as much of the fungus as possible and treating it with a suitable cream.
Tips for Dealing with Ringworm in Cats
Disinfect all grooming equipment, since this is a common way for the spores to be spread. Iodophor-type disinfectants can be recommended for this purpose. Disposable gloves are useful but if you have handled a cat with ringworm, you should wash your hands in cold rather than hot water. This means that the pores are less likely to open, and so it will be harder for the fungus to gain access to the body.
- Ringworm can erupt on humans as well as cats. Indeed, the infection appears to be worse on humans, because it is not covered by fur. Treatment with prescribed antifungal cream will be necessary.
- Kittens are most vulnerable to ringworm. The area around the face and ears is commonly affected, as are the feet.
- Dogs can be affected by the same type of ringworm as cats, so if you have both a dog and a cat, the chances are that both your pets could be affected.
- If you provide greasy foods when giving your cat its griseofulvin, this will improve the absorption of the drug into the body.
My cat has been diagnosed as having ringworm. What can I do to protect the family?
Bear in mind that your cat is probably likely to remain a potential source of infection for a number of weeks. Ensure that children do not pick him up — particularly with bare arms — as this will make it easier for the fungus to transfer to their skin. Try to prevent your cat from slipping into bedrooms or sleeping on chairs. He should sleep in his own bed, and you should wash his bedding frequently, to kill off spores and lessen the risk of any further infection.
Can there be carriers of ringworm ?
Some cats carry the fungus, but show no signs of illness. To detect carriers it is necessary to brush the fur with a sterile toothbrush, dip the brush in a special medium and then see if it is possible to culture the fungus.