In spite of the name, ringworm in cats actually has nothing to do with worms. It is instead a fungal skin infection, which if suspected in your pet cat, needs immediate attention, so that it is not spread among you or other animals. Ringworms in cats are a contagious disease that is a kind of skin infection. This disease is more common among long-haired cats and kittens but it can also impact any aged cat and breed. Ringworm is even a zoonotic disease which is spread to humans, especially to those who have low immunity power.
Ringworm is not caused by worms, rather they are caused by a group of fungi named dermatophytes and they can be referred to their medical name – dermatiphytosis. As this disease is extremely contagious in nature, it is vital to treat this condition as soon as you detect it. Keep reading for more information on how you can detect it, treat it and get rid of it.
Ringworm in cats – What is it?
This is a very common skin infection or fungal infection that feeds on the keratin of the cat’s skin, fur and nails. Then you must be wondering why the name ‘ringworm’ is given to this type when there are no worms involved in it. Well, the fungus leads to circular ring-like lesions on the skin of your cat which leads to fur loss. They are usually found on the ears, head and also on the ridge of the back and front legs. However, these ringworms can also be present anywhere in the body of the cat.
Ringworms – How do cats extract this infection?
Ringworm among cats is extremely contagious and it is most commonly caught when a cat gets in touch with other infected cats. If you reside in a multi-pet household, this can get spread through fungal spores on skin and through the hair that is shed. Ringworms tend to be common among kittens under 1year of age as they still have a developing immune system. The long-haired cats also get affected as the fungus gets trapped within the longer coat and hence is tough to remove.
Ringworms in cats – What are the symptoms?
There are times when the occurrence of ringworms in cats can become tough to detect as the symptoms are extremely mild. In case your cat displays the symptoms, it will give you the following symptoms:
- Ring-like lesions on the skin or coat of the cat
- Dandruff or scaly texture in the coat of the cat
- Thickened and circular patches of skin that leads to hair loss
- Red, sore and crusty patches
The signs and symptoms of ringworms will depend on your pet and it is also true at the same time that the above listed symptoms may imply other skin infections too. Therefore, in order to be sure about the occurrence of ringworms, you’ll require visiting a vet.
How much should you be concerned about ringworms?
The answer is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. It is not always serious when your cats suffer from ringworms but if you leave it unaddressed, it can spread to you and to other animals, especially when there are different pets in your house. Transmission of ringworms occurs through direct contact between the infected cat and the uninfected cat. In fact, this disease even transmits from cats to dogs.
Human adults can resist themselves from this infection unless and until there is a definite break in the skin like a scratch. Children, on the other hand, have low immunity and hence are vulnerable of extracting the infection. In case there are suspicious skin lesions, seek immediate medical help. The good thing is that just because human hygiene is more proper than animals, just applying an anti-fungal cream can cure it in humans.
Treating Ringworms in Cats – What is the process?
Who would want to give his cat an oral medicine? Thankfully, there are topical anti-fungal medicines that are available in the form of sprays and creams and that may be used to cure ringworms. Dips and clipping fur are also available once you visit the vet and these are some of the most useful tool to get rid of the infection.
There are oral anti-fungal medicines like itraconazole which are often prescribed for widespread infections or infections that clear with topical therapy. They can either be flavored like tuna or other cat treats to simplify the other oral medicines. Environmental decontamination is a vital part of the treatment to break the cycle of infection.
A culture of dermatophytes or the agent that causes ringworms is the only way in which you can monitor the response of the cat to the treatment. When there is extensive infection or something that is resistant, the treatment may drag on to few weeks to even months. This will make it worthwhile to have lesions and hair loss investigated and diagnosed sooner.
Ringworms – How can they be prevented?
It is rather challenging to prevent ringworms among cats but it is not impossible. If your cat is healthy with a healthy skin and coat, he is much less likely to develop ringworms due to contamination with fungal spores. Here, nutrition is one of the most important things to be taken into account for retaining the integrity of the hair follicles and skin.
When you bring home a new cat, choose to give a period of quarantine and also a culture for the ringworm organism. This should be especially done when your cat shows unhealthy skin or coat signs.
In case your pet cat is exposed to an animal that has ringworms, you might have to discuss with your vet the chances of a treatment that uses up oral medicines for nearly 2 weeks. Ringworms usually take weeks or months to leave a cat’s body, particularly when the infection is intense. Hence, it is necessary for you to keep your cat healthy all the time.
So, if you don’t want too many visits to the clinic of the vet with your cat, make sure you keep him clean and in good company all the time. Give him proper nutrition and help boost his immune system.