How Do I Treat Ringworm In My Cat ?


Everyone knows the thrill of sharing our lives and our houses with our feline companions. Some issues, nevertheless, are most significant not shared. Ringworm, a fungal infection of the hair and pores and skin, is one in all a handful of feline infectious illnesses that may be transmitted from cats to people. Cat homeowners are sometimes troubled with their pets throughout an outbreak, and this has naturally generated concern amongst physicians. As a feline practitioner, I’m very conversant in the challenges of ringworm. Only the final week, I formulated an in-depth therapy protocol for Sophia, Jules, and Barkley Schmidt – three very fluffy long-haired Persian cats from the identical family, all troubled with ringworm. Their proprietor, Rachel Schmidt, had the misfortune of contracting it as properly, on her arm.

It’s not a “worm,” it’s a fungus.

Regardless of the title, ringworm is just not a “worm”. It’s pores and skin fungus. Relying on their pure habitat, pores, and skin fungi might be categorized as geophilic (residing in soil), anthropophilic (lying on individuals), or zoophilic (lying on animals). Microsporum Canis, the species of ringworm that mostly impacts cats, is a zoophilic fungus that has change into so well-adapted to cats that it might dwell on their hair and pores and skin with out inflicting any scientific indicators of illness. Microsporum Canis, nevertheless, is just not a part of the flora that usually resides on the pores and skin, and the invention of this fungus on the pores and skin ought to all the time be thought of an irregular discovering. Two different species of fungus, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton spp, are much less widespread, however, may additionally trigger ringworm in cats.

The mere presence of a ringworm spore on the hair coat isn’t sufficient to trigger an infection and illness. Cats (and people) should contact a minimal variety of spores earlier than an infection turns into established. The minimum range of spores varies with the person and the circumstances of publicity. Many elements, together with younger age, concurrent illness, medicine that suppress the immune system, compromised free-standing, deficient vitamin, stress, and overcrowding, will predispose cats to buy ringworm. Cats in animal shelters and catteries are more likely to harbor ringworm than pet cats, and isolation of this fungus from even one cat or kitten in a cattery warrants therapy of your complete cattery.

Grooming is a method that cats assist in taking away ringworm spores from their coat. Persians, Himalayans, and different long-haired cats are typically much less environment-friendly groomers, making them extra inclined to buying ringworm an infection. Genetic influences, nevertheless, might play a job in these breeds as correctly. Whether or not a cat is contaminated with ringworm or is only mechanically carrying the fungus on its hair coat, veterinary care is required because each cat might be a source of infection to different animals and individuals.


Ringworm is the most ordinary infectious pores and skin illness in cats. Cats change into contaminated with ringworm after being uncovered to infective spores by way of contact with an infected animal, a contaminated object, or a contaminated surrounding. Spores are small and may additionally be carried on air currents and mud particles. As soon as the spores attain the coat, if they survive the cat’s pure protection mechanisms (for instance, grooming and sunbathing), they adhere to and invade cells known as keratinocytes on the hair shaft and pores and skin (and sometimes, the nails). So they germinate, initiating the infection.

The fungus makes use of keratin protein as its dietary supply. It produces enzymes that digest the useless, keratinized tissue, permitting it to penetrate the hair and proceed to rise. Hair shafts change into weak, brittle, and simply damaged. Hair fragments, pores, and skin scales are shed into the surroundings, together with 1000’s of spores. Spores can stay within the surroundings for months or years, serving as a reservoir of contaminated materials for people and different cats introduced into the surroundings.

Cats of any age, intercourse, or breed are inclined to infection. Kittens and geriatric cats, nevertheless, are extra often affected, as are long-haired cats. Long-haired cats are believed to be extra inclined as a result of the lengthy hairs defend the spores from being eliminated by grooming. Lengthy hair can get matted, and matted hairs are additionally extra inclined to ringworm infection. When cats groom themselves, they’re partaking in an essential exercise that helps restrict ringworm an infection. This will clarify why older cats could also be extra prone to develop the situation; some cats have issue grooming as they age due to lack of flexibility or concurrent sickness.

Kittens typically are necessarily the most inclined inhabitants, with the pinnacle, face, ears, and forelimbs primarily concerned. It’s speculated that the look and ears are generally affected spots in kittens as a result of these areas, although groomed properly by the mom, are typically not very properly groomed by kittens. Lesions usually seem in kittens at or across the time of weaning, which helps this speculation.

Concurrent illness can affect the susceptibility to infection. For instance, cats contaminated with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are three times extra prone to purchase ringworm than uninfected cats. Genetics may additionally play a job in a cat’s susceptibility to ringworm. Research has proven that continual ringworm issues are most typical in catteries by which members had been genetically associated, and breeders could also be unintentionally deciding on for inclined cats after they breed for certain coat traits.

Scientific Indicators

The first scientific look of ringworm consists of many areas of patchy hair loss with excellent or average crusting. However, ringworm in cats can have all kinds of shows. Contaminated cats can current with any mixture of the next:

• pruritus (itchiness) – typically, ringworm is not a particularly itchy illness, even though some cats have delicate itchiness, whereas others are severely itchy and can scratch to the purpose of self-mutilation

• hair loss – ringworm causes hair loss, and this can be refined or dramatic and will present a symmetrical sample or be completely asymmetrical

• crusting and scaling – ringworm lesions are typically exfoliative. Often, the scaling is delicate; however, in some cats, it’s fairly extreme.

• blackheads – ringworm an infection sometimes causes blackheads on the chin in younger cats

• hyperpigmentation – ringworm an infection could cause a darkening of the pores and skin in some cats

• nail an infection solely – just a few cats with ringworm develop crusty or greasy nail infections as their purely scientific signal of ringworm

• redness – areas of hair loss are sometimes reddened after they first develop

• overgrooming – cats with symmetrical hair loss from obvious overgrooming will generally be discovered to have ringworm an infection.

• itchy ears solely – unilateral or bilateral itchiness of the ears is an unusual presentation for ringworm; nevertheless, it has been seen sometimes.


Prognosis is achieved by way of fungal tradition. Hairs from affected areas are plucked with a sterile hemostat and positioned on a particular fungal tradition medium. Most veterinary practices use “dermatophyte take a look at medium” as their traditional medium, as a result of it comprises a coloration indicator that turns the medium purple when ringworm begins to develop. Shining a fluorescent gentle, known as a Wooden’s lamp, on the hair coat might assist higher establish contaminated hairs, for higher sampling for the fungal tradition. Half of the strains of Microsporum canis will glow “apple-green” or “yellow-green” beneath the lamp. The supply of the fluorescence is a metabolite that rising fungi secrete onto the hairs.

The Wooden’s lamp is a screening device; it can’t be used to diagnose ringworm definitively. If the cat with fluorescent hairs is later confirmed to be contaminated through fungal tradition, subsequent Wooden’s lamp examinations can be utilized to observe the response to therapy. Relying on the stage of infection, glowing hairs will present varied fluorescence patterns. Throughout an active or early an infection, your complete hair shaft will glow. Because the infection resolves, solely the extra distal parts (i.e., the guidelines) of the hairs will burn, presumably as a result of the hairs are therapeutic, and the bottom of the hair is now not contaminated. The variety of glowing manes also needs to lower throughout therapy.


Folks might be changed into contaminated with ringworm, mainly if the individual is immunocompromised ultimately, i.e., HIV an infection, organ transplant recipients, individuals receiving chemotherapy, the very previous, or the very younger. It has been reported that 50% of individuals uncovered to contaminated cats develop ringworm lesions and that in roughly 70% of all households with a contaminated cat, no less than one individual grew to become contaminated. With this in thoughts, veterinarians ought to set two targets when devising a therapy plan for ringworm: a cured cat and a decontaminated surroundings. Each is required to forestall reinfection in cats and the publicity of individuals to this illness.

Cats that take a look at constructive for ringworm want some sort of therapy. Therapy plans might differ considerably for every particular person cat. However, all of them contain some mixture of clipping the hair coat, topical remedy, systemic (oral) antifungal treatment, and ideas for environmental contamination. The two most typical questions I get requested, as a feline practitioner, is whether or not it’s completely essential to deal with cats topically (i.e., bathing), and whether or not cats might be handled efficiently with topical remedy alone (i.e., simply baths, and no oral treatment). Frankly, we’ve discovered that the best success is achieved with aggressive remedy – clipping the coat, bathing with medicated shampoos, and utilizing oral drugs.

The therapy plan should take into account all different fur-bearing animals within the family. A fungal tradition, due to this fact, also needs to be carried out on all different animals residing with or involved with the contaminated cat. Whereas ready for the fungal tradition outcomes, these different pets ought to be bathed twice per week.

Step 1 of the remedy for the contaminated cat is to find out whether or not the cat must have its coat clipped. When ringworm invades the hairs, they make them fragile and simply damaged. When the hair shafts break, contaminated hair fragments and spores are shed into the surroundings and onto the cat’s hair coat. This shedding will increase the danger of spreading the ringworm, and in addition, will increase the chance that the cat is changing into re-exposed to spores within the surroundings. This may trigger the cat to repeatedly take a look at constructive on fungal tradition. Clipping the coat removes contaminated hair and minimizes continued shedding of hair fragments and spores. It additionally permits for extra thorough penetration of topical antifungal shampoos. As a result of kids, aged individuals, or anybody with immunosuppression is at a larger threat of catching ringworm from a contaminated cat, any cat that lives in a family with somebody who matches the above description should have its coat clipped. In any other case, as a normal rule, if a shorthaired cat has five or extra discreet spots of ringworm, your complete coat ought to be clipped. If a shorthaired cat has lower than five discreet spots, the hair across the particular person spots might be clipped. If the cat is long-haired, your complete coat ought to be clipped no matter what number of discreet ringworm spots are seen on the coat.

All cats that take a look at constructive for ringworm ought to obtain some sort of topical remedy. Topical remedy minimizes the unfold of infective spores into the surroundings, and helps take away infective crusts, scales, and spores from the coat. Without topical remedy, therapy would take longer and can be extra pricey.

There is a lot of efficient topical merchandise. Miconazole, both as a sole therapeutic agent, or together with chlorhexidine, has been proven to be efficient. Malaseb shampoo, which is a mixture of miconazole and chlorhexidine, is a superb alternative. Research has proven this shampoo to be very efficient towards ringworm. Cats ought to be bathed twice weekly. For the shampoo to be efficient, it will be significant that there be a contact time of 10 minutes with the cat’s fur.

Native topical remedy with ointments and lotions is usually not beneficial for therapy. From a sensible perspective, they’re messy, simply groomed off, and tempt purchasers to attempt spot remedy as an alternative of aggressive therapy with shampoos and oral drugs. In our expertise, nevertheless, miconazole lotion, utilized to the affected areas on the times that the cat is just not being bathed, seems to be helpful.

The cornerstone of therapy for ringworm is a systemic remedy with oral treatment. Ideally, these medicines shouldn’t be utilized in kittens lower than eight weeks of age. Medication which was proven to be efficient embody griseofulvin, terbinafine, ketoconazole, and itraconazole. Itraconazole to be very efficient when given at a dose of 10 mg per kg as soon as day by day for six weeks. Uncomfortable side effects, in the event that they happen, are typically restricted to vomiting and decreased urge for food. Itraconazole must be ready by a compounding pharmacy right into a type that permits correct dosing. We’ve got the pharmacy put together a flavored liquid that makes dosing a lot much less objectionable to the cat.

Response to Remedy

Cats receiving therapy for ringworm normally present marked enhancement in scientific indicators inside 2 to four weeks of remedy.

Four weeks after starting therapy, cats ought to be reexamined. A Wooden’s lamp examination ought to be carried out to display for contaminated hairs (for cats whose contaminated hairs fluoresced throughout their preliminary go to). Any contaminated hairs found throughout the examination ought to be eliminated. Contaminated hairs found on the muzzle, face, and ears recommend that the proprietor is having the issue or has been hesitant to use the shampoo to those areas.

A fungal tradition ought to be carried out at each recheck. As soon as a destructive tradition is obtained, weekly fungal cultures ought to be carried out. Two consecutive destructive fungal cultures signify profitable therapy in single-pet conditions. In multicat conditions, it’s most likely greatest to proceed remedy till three destructive cultures are obtained.

Environmental Decontamination

Ringworm spores can persist within the surroundings for a very long time, maybe 18 to 24 months. The spores are microscopic and might unfold simply by air currents and contaminated mud and through heating ducts and vents.

To attenuate environmental contamination in households the place just one single pet cat is contaminated, the cat or kitten ought to be stored in a small, simply cleaned room (resembling a toilet) that doesn’t have carpeting. The cat ought to be quarantined on this room till it has obtained oral antifungal treatment for two weeks and a minimal of 4 medicated baths. At this level, the cat might be given higher entry within the house, ideally in uncarpeted and simply cleaned rooms.

Thorough and repeated vacuuming, and wiping of surfaces every day, ought to forestall the house from changing into contaminated. Cat beds and blankets ought to be washed day by day in scorching water and bleach. Loos and clean surfaces might be disinfected with a bleach resolution (1 half bleach, 9 components water). Routine cleansing and disinfecting ought to proceed till the cat is taken into account cured of ringworm.

One veterinary dermatologist with intensive experience in ringworm recommends the next decontamination protocol:


• Discard all cat rugs, blankets, collars, brushes, and cloth toys

• Discard any cat objects that can not be repeatedly scrubbed, vacuumed, and disinfected simply

• Buy a brand new, cheap vacuum cleaner with hose attachments that may be totally cleaned.

• Take away and clear all drapes and decorations. In multicat households, take away and clear all heating duct and vent plates, and set up disposable home mud filters behind the duct plates earlier than changing them. This may hold spores out of the heating ducts

• If potential, put a fan within the window in order that it attracts air out of the room to the skin

• Vacuum all surfaces of the room

• Mud all surfaces and ledges with a disposable electrostatic material (like “Swiffer”)

• Scrub all surfaces with a detergent that’s protected to make use of round cats. Rinse all surfaces properly. Apply a 1:10 dilution of bleach to all non-porous surfaces. Leaving the bleach resolution on the floor for 10 minutes is right.

• Utilizing a transportable dehumidifier is useful, as a result of humid environments enable spores to stay viable.

Then, day by day…

• Vacuum all surfaces and use the disposable electrostatic dust-trapping cloths to take away filth and spores

And, weekly…

• Apply disinfectant to all surfaces. Disinfectants can be utilized day by day, however they’re harsh and worsening to individuals and cats. Weekly utility is suitable.

Stopping reinfection

Indoor cats are unlikely to change into reinfected as soon as the ringworm is handled efficiently, whether or not it’s a single cat family or a multicat family. The most probably sources of publicity are the addition of a brand new cat to the family, or publicity to different contaminated animals at boarding or grooming services. Any new cats to be added to a family ought to be screened for ringworm, particularly if coming from a pet retailer or animal shelter, and it ought to most likely be bathed with a medicated shampoo whereas ready for the tradition outcomes.

Treating ringworm infections might be irritating for cat homeowners and veterinarians. Aggressive topical and oral remedy mixed with diligent environmental decontamination is important. At Manhattan Cat Specialists, our therapy protocol has been fairly efficient at controlling this pesky fungus.

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