Ringworm in cats is the most common skin infection in cats and the name is somewhat misleading. It is not actually caused by a worm; it is caused by a fungal infection.
It is also extremely contagious and can very easily be spread to other cats as well as to humans.
It is caused by several organisms, but the most common is referred to as Microsporum canis.
The spores of these fungi can literally live for years in the right type of environment and can be contagious to your cat the entire time.
Ringworm most typically affects young cats, long haired cats, or cats that have had some type of a previous skin disease.
However, if your cat has recently has a very traumatic episode in their life, they are also at risk.
If your cat has recently been in a shelter or catteries, they are also at a high degree of risk from two fronts; the stress that this has caused as well as possible exposure to another infected cat.
Ringworm in cats is generally found on the affected cat or their living quarters.
Spores for this fungal infection can be shed from an infected cat and once they are shed, can survive for as long as two years.
If the environment is warm and humid, these spores can literally explode in growth.
Once they are released into the environment, they can live on branches and plants, as well as your pets bedding.
They can also very easily live on your furniture or anything else that an infected cat has come into contact with.
Your cat can very easily become an asymptomatic carrier on this fungal infection.
An asymptomatic carrier is defined as a host for an infectious agent who does not show any signs at all that they are infected.
Ringworm in cats is transmitted by coming into direct contact with the fungi, and this can include another infected cat or any of their grooming materials.
However, it can also very easily be transmitted by coming into contact with the spores themselves.
Cats by nature have a natural resistance to these types of infections, but if your cat is not healthy, their system can very easily be overrun.
This is why it is the most common skin infection in cats.
Cats that are less than a year old are have not built up their immune system to full capacity and are the most commonly affected of all cats.
However, if your cat has an immune suppressed condition from a disease or from too many steroids, they are also at a very high risk.
Older cats as well as free roaming cats are also at a higher risk, as well malnourished cats.
Long haired cats, especially Persians, are also much more susceptible to this infection.
Ringworm in cats affects three parts of your pet’s body; their head or scalp, their body, as well as their nails.
One of the first symptoms of ringworm in cats will be areas of hair loss that are usually in a circular formation.
This loss of hair can range from very mild to quite severe, depending on how serious the ringworm infection is.
Once the hair loss starts to occur, you may also see lesions in the center of the hair loss.
These lesions will contain pustules and will generally start out very small, but then will start to grow in size.
If you see this symptom, it is almost always the result of ringworm.
These lesions may or may not be itchy to your cat, and they are most commonly found on your cats head, ears, or their tail. However, the symptoms will not always be circular in formation.
If it is severe enough, it can very rapidly spread across your cats face, lips, chin, or nose.
In some cases, it may appear like chin ache in your cat or look like dandruff on your cat’s skin. If it infects your their nails, it will cause them to become malformed and as a result look very odd.
Treatments for ringworm in cats can be both very frustrating as well as very expensive, especially if you have more than one cat.
You will not only have to treat your cat, but the environment as well.
In most all cases, your cat’s immune system will naturally defeat this infection, but it can take several months for this to occur.
In the meantime, you must treat your cat or the symptoms will intensify.
Some cats, if not treated, can be attacked several times even with a strong immune system.
In healthy, short-haired kittens and cats, the first form of treatments will be with topical creams that contain anti-fungal ingredients.
You will also have to treat any underlying health issues, especially nutritional.
Most cats will need some type of a vitamin supplement to build and then maintain their immune system to fight this infection.
In the more severe cases of ringworm in cats, a combination of both oral and topical treatments will be used.
The lesions may have to be clipped by your veterinarian so the topical cream can reach your cats skin.
However, there is one very controversial topic among some veterinarians in treating long haired cats with ringworm.
There is a growing opinion that any long haired cat should be completely shaved in order to successfully treat this infection.
If the ringworm infection is severe, your cat may also have to be given lime sulfur dips.
These are extremely effective but you may want to get a second opinion as they can temporarily turn the remaining hair coat a yellowish color.
There are some alternatives, but they will vary depending on what country that you live in.
Ringworm in cats can range from mild to severe and is the most common skin disease your pet will face. It is extremely contagious and any measure that you take in preventing it is very well spent.
If you bring a new kitten into your house and already have a cat or several cats, be extremely careful and take the extra precautions of having them checked first.
If you use a grooming facility, it will not be out of place to ask them how and what they use to sterilize their cleaning equipment.
If the answer is anything other than heated or chemically sterilization of the equipment, look for a different groomer.
If you do see any of the symptoms, isolate your cat from other cats as quickly as possible and then have them treated.