Ringworm infection is quite common among felines. Unlike the name, ringworm has nothing to do with worms; it actually refers to a contagious fungal infection that mainly affects the skin of pets. It is a common fungal infection among cats and can be found in indoor cats as well. Ringworm affects a cat’s skin, fur, and nails. Though it is more common in kittens under 1 year or long-haired cats, it can affect cats of every breed and age. So, how do cats get ringworms?
1. How Do Cats Get Ringworm?
Cats can be infected by ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis, through direct contact with fungal spores from any infected source. The main fungi that cause ringworm in cats are Microsporum canis (the most common fungus that causes ringworm), Microsporum gypsum, and Trichophyton species.
Here are a few ways cats could get ringworm infection:
1.1. Coming in Contact with Infected Animals
This is one of the most common ways in which cats get the fungal infection. Cats can get ringworms through direct contact with another infected cat, dog, rodent, or other animals who have the infection. Direct contact may occur through grooming, playing, or fighting.
1.2. Coming in Contact with Contaminated Objects
If there are contaminated objects nearby, cats may come in direct contact with them and get infected. Fungal spores are sometimes present on household objects like bedding, furniture, and carpets, to name a few.
1.3. Infection From Soil & Environment
Fungal spores are often present in soil or outdoor environments. So when cats come in contact with contaminated soil or the environment, they may easily pick up the infection. This is more commonly seen in the case of the Microsporum gypseum fungus.
1.4. Human Transmission
Though this is rare, infected human beings can also pass this on to their pets. Open skin wounds or scratches could transmit the infection to your feline.
1.5. Coming in Contact with Asymptomatic Carriers
Some animals carry fungal infections without showing any symptoms of them. They are known as asymptomatic carriers. They can transmit the infection to other animals, including cats, and humans through direct contact.
2. Can Humans Get Ringworms from Cats?
Ringworm is a zootonic disease, i.e. it can be passed from infected cats to humans who come in contact with them. The fungal infection spreads between felines and humans through skin scratches, abrasions, and other open wounds. Thus, the condition is a threat to both cats and people.
3. How to Know if a Cat Has Ringworm?
These are some of the common clinical signs of ringworm in cats:
• Circular areas of hair loss
• Broken and stubbly hair
• Scaly skin or crusty skin
• Alterations in hair color or skin color
• Inflamed areas of skin
• Excessive grooming and scratching
• Infected claws or nail beds
4. How to Prevent Ringworm in Cats?
Preventing fungal infection in cats requires a combination of hygienic practices, frequent grooming, and minimum exposure to potential infected sources.
Here are a few steps that you can follow to prevent the likelihood of your cat catching ringworm :
4.1. Regular Veterinary Care
Scheduling regular checkups with your vet would be really helpful in monitoring your cats’ overall health as well as skin conditions. If any skin problem is detected in your feline, it’ll be detected early and treatment will be prompt. This will prevent the spread of ringworm in your cat.
4.2. Proper Hygiene & Frequent Cleaning
It is important to keep your cat’s living environment clean and disinfected. Make sure to keep your cat’s hair, litter boxes, bedding, and grooming materials clean.
4.3. Isolation of New Cats
If you are planning to bring new cats into the house, make sure that you can make proper arrangements for their isolation. This way you can ensure whether or not your new cats are carrying any infection, including ringworm. Also, in case of infections, keeping the cats isolated will prevent the spread of those infections to the other cats.
4.4. Quarantine and Observation
In case your cat is showing symptoms of a fungal infection, isolating it from another infected human or animal is necessary. Keep the infected cat in quarantine and make sure your feline is under constant observation. This will prevent the infection from progressing and spreading. Also, consult a veterinary doctor as soon as possible to start treatment in the early stages itself.
4.5. Grooming Practices
Grooming your cat at regular intervals is necessary to keep ringworms away. It may be difficult to keep your cat away from a contaminated environment at all times; thus, grooming them often will prevent any and every kind of infection from manifesting.
4.6. Avoiding Overcrowded Environment
An overcrowded environment is synonymous with a contaminated environment when it comes to your feline companion’s health. Avoid crowds or stressful environments as much as possible as these can make your cat more susceptible to common infections like ringworm.
4.7. Avoiding Contact with Stray Animals & Unknown Animals and People
Stray dogs and cats carry numerous infections with them. They are more than likely to spread ringworm to your indoor cats upon direct contact. This is because ringworm is very common and easily spread. If your cat tends to interact with stray animals, try to keep them inside the house and away from the entrance. Also, it is best to not let strangers pet them for long.
4.8. Educating Yourself on Ringworm
You need to educate yourself on the causes and symptoms of ringworm in order to prevent your cat from catching it. Once you know how the disease is transmitted, you’ll know what to avoid and how to avoid it. You will easily be able to detect potential issues and take appropriate action.
4.9. Limiting Outdoor Access
If you have an outdoor cat, try to limit its range of outdoor access to keep the chances of infection minimum. This will protect your cats from fungal spores present in the soil and the outdoor environment.
4.10. Prompt Treatment
In case your feline companion is showing symptoms of ringworm or any other form of infection, consult your vet immediately. Early accurate diagnosis of ringworm can help reduce the suffering and skin irritation in your cat. The earlier the treatment begins, the better it is.
5. Is Feline Ringworm Treatable?
Feline ringworm is easily treatable. Effective ringworm treatment in cats requires diligence, patience, and consistency. It usually takes a minimum of 6 weeks or so to make cats free from ringworm; however, some cats may take more time to recover than others. Also, treatment processes vary based on the severity of ringworm infection.
6. How Is Ringworm in Cats Treated?
6.1. Medical Treatment
It is necessary to seek ringworm treatment immediately if your cat is showing clinical signs of it. Once you consult the vet, your cat may be prescribed antifungal medications. The vet will perform tests including fungal culture, or microscopic examination of your cat’s hair and skin samples.
The most common oral medication recommended for cats by vets is itraconazole.
6.2. Topical Treatment
Medicated shampoos, skin creams, and ointments are often prescribed to treat ringworm, especially if the lesions are localized. These will prevent the growth of fungus on your pet’s hair or skin and promote healing.
The most common topical medication prescribed for feline ringworm is miconazole.
6.3. Frequent Environmental Decontamination
To completely get rid of ringworm, your feline companion needs to be in a clean and disinfected ambiance. Stuff that your cat comes in direct contact with, such as bedding, grooming tools, and toys should be cleaned as frequently as possible. This will help you make sure that your household does not have contaminated objects to infect your cat.
6.4. Isolation & Quarantine
Ringworm treatment typically involves isolating your cats. Once the infected cats are quarantined, it becomes easier to observe and treat them. Isolating your infected feline will prevent the spread of fungi to other pets or even humans.
6.5. Regular Veterinary Checkups
Scheduling regular checkups with your vet is necessary to treat cats with ringworm. Recovery gets faster if the infected cat is under constant surveillance by a doctor. Moreover, frequent visits to the vet is a great way to get accurate diagnosis easily.
6.6. Hygienic Practices
Good hygiene is a necessity when it comes to ringworm treatment in cats. Keep your hands clean before you touch your cat and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after touching or grooming your cat. Wearing gloves while handling infected pets is also a great idea. Keeping yourself as well as your feline clean will make it really easy to get rid of ringworm infection in cats.
6.7. Frequent Grooming
Grooming felines regularly ensures protection from fungi and other infections. Also, grooming keeps out ticks and fleas which make your cats prone to infections. If you groom an infected cat on a regular basis,
6.8. Natural Sunlight
Ultraviolet (UV) light has certain antifungal properties. Thus, exposing your cats to natural sunlight could inhibit the spread of fungal infection in them. This will speed up the recovery process of infected cats.
7. Can Cat Ringworm Be Treated at Home?
Though not the best option, it is possible to treat ringworm infection in felines.
Here are some ways to treat their fungal infections at home:
7.1. Natural Remedies
Essential oils such as lavender and tea tree are known for being great at combating ringworm in cats. They also soothe your cat’s irritated skin. You can dilute the essential oils with coconut or olive oil and gently rub them on the affected area of your cat’s skin.
7.2. Applying Skin Creams & Lotions
Certain creams and lotions are available and quite effective in treating ringworm infection in pets. Products that can help in treating ringworms in felines include Ketoconazole, Miconazole, Terbinafine, and Clotrimazole.
7.3. Using Medicated Shampoos
Several antifungal medicated shampoos are available to treat ringworm in cats and dogs. Here is a list of some effective medicated shampoos you can use to treat your infected feline companion and some other pets.
- Pet MD Medicated Shampoo For Cats
- VetWell Ketoconazole Chlorhexidine Shampoo
- VetWell Micoseb Medicated Shampoo
- Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Shampoo
- Jungle Pet Antiseptic Shampoo
- Pet MD Micoseb-CX Medicated Shampoo
Ingredients that should not be present in cat shampoos include Sulphates, Artificial Additives, Parabens, and Phthalates.
8. How to Bathe a Cat with a Ringworm?
The first step is to prepare warm or lukewarm water for bathing the infected cat. In case your cat hasn’t taken a shower in a long time, start by applying a cleansing shampoo first. Once you have removed dirt and dandruff from the cat’s fur and skin, gently rub the ringworm shampoo on your pet’s skin and make sure you make enough lather. Focus on the areas with the most lesions. Once this treatment is over, rinse thoroughly. Shampoo, if left on your pet’s skin, can irritate.
9. Dietary Changes To Prevent & Treat Feline Ringworm
A strong immunity system can easily fight off infections in pets. A proper healthy diet is essential to boost immunity. Here is a list of ingredients you should include and avoid in your cat’s diet.
9.1. High-Quality Nutrition
You should feed your cat good quality commercial cat food that matches your feline’s nutritional needs. Make sure the food is appropriate for your cat’s age. Both kittens’ and adult cats’ dry and wet food are available that contain essential nutrients.
9.2. Protein-Rich Diet
Cats need a diet rich in protein as it is essential for maintaining your cat’s skin and boosting immunity. High-protein cat foods involve animal protein such as beef, turkey, chicken, fish, meat meals, and other meat by-products. Make sure your choice of cat food is rich in animal protein.
9.3. Vitamins, Minerals & Fatty Acids
Cat food should also contain vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for maintaining good skin health and keep your cat’s coat in great shape.
9.4. Proper Hydration
Indoor cats should have access to clean and fresh water at all times. Also, hydration can be provided through certain food materials. For instance, cucumbers could be a juicy and refreshing treat that keeps felines hydrated.
9.5. Avoid Food Allergens
If your cat is allergic to certain categories of food, try to avoid allergens at all costs. Ingestion of allergic food will cause allergic reactions which may sometimes end up being very severe.
9.6. Fix a Feeding Schedule
Feed your cat at particular times of the day and stick to the routine. This will prevent eating inconsistencies and excess consumption of unhealthy food in your feline.
Ringworm infection in cats, especially longhaired breeds, is quite common and there’s no need to panic if your cat shows symptoms of it. If the infection is mild or moderate, you can start with certain home remedies to treat it. But, if the fungal infection is spreading uncontrollably and is severe, you should immediately consult a vet. With consistent care and frequent grooming, you can keep your feline companion healthy and free from ringworm.
As ringworm is easily spread between pets, other animals, and humans, it is important to detect this infection as soon as possible. Start treatment as early as possible to inhibit fungal growth and prevent the infection from progressing. Remember, an infected cat can spread ringworm to your other pets, including dogs. Therefore, if the vet is already examining the infected cat, it would be good to take your other pets for a check-up too.