Ringworm Disease In Cats

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect the hair, skin and nails of a cat. It will cure itself over time but a cat can transmit the disease to other animals and humans while it is infected.

The disease is commonly caused by Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum or Trichophyton fungi found in infected animals or the animal’s living environment. The spores can live up to 24 months and favor humid, warm areas. A cat can have the disease without showing any symptoms.

The disease can be transmitted by direct contact or infected grooming implements. A healthy cat immune system creates a resistance to the disease. A cat with a suppress immune system, high use of steroids, older, free roaming, malnourished, ill or highly stress has a higher risk of contracting ringworm.

Skin lesions are the most common symptom. The lesions usually devoid of hair are normally found on the head, ears and tail. It can also affect the nails causing malformation. Sometimes the entire body can be infected resulting in a scaly or greasy skin condition.

A specialized black light, Wood’s lamp, can diagnose some fungi species. Anther diagnostic method is to pluck hairs around the lesion and examine them under a microscope. The most accurate way is to collect scales and crust from the skin and perform a fungi culture.

Ringworm can be treated with topical creams like miconazole or thiabendazole. In severe cases, a topical treatment using lime sulfur dips and combined with medications like Itraconazole, Terbafine or Greseofluvin. The dips have a foul odor and can temporally turn the fur yellowish but are very effective. Always consult a veterinarian to determine the best treatment.

Keeping a cat from an infected animal and maintaining a clean environment are good ways to prevent the disease. If it is determined there are spores, the area should be clean thoroughly including heating and cooling ducts. A solution of bleach diluted 10 to 1 and left on for 10 minutes will kill the spores. Since humans can be infected, wearing gloves when handling infected animals and cleaning is recommended.