Ringworm in Cats: What it is and Treatments for Your Pet (Pasadena, MD)
When your pet has any disease or health condition, it can be scary for the owner. Ringworm is not a very frightening disease and is easily treatable. Many cat owners may be completely unaware of ringworm until their pet contracts it. However, ringworm is a relatively simple and very treatable disease. In this article, you will learn what cat ringworm is exactly and how it is treated.
What is Ringworm?
Ringworm is actually not a worm at all and is a fungal infection that can infect the hair, claws, or skin of a cat but is most commonly seen on the skin. The term ringworm comes from how this disease typically presents in humans. In humans, ringworm usually shows up as a raised, red ring shape. However, ringworm does not always show up this way, and in cats, a ring is rarely seen. The most common form of ringworm can spread to dogs, cats, and humans. Ringworm is typically not species-specific, meaning it is limited to one species but rather is zoonotic, which means it can spread between animals and people.
How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting Ringworm
It can be challenging to prevent ringworm in cats because it is a very easily spread disease. Ringworm is not only spread through direct contact between an infected animal or person and a noninfected animal or person. Ringworm can also live on surfaces and objects that have been in contact with the infected and spread the fungus to the next animal or person who comes into contact with those surfaces or objects that now hold the disease. If you are aware of another animal or person that is infected with ringworm, the best way to prevent spread is to isolate them as much as you can. Limit what areas the infected use while they are treating their ringworm. For cats, an e-collar may be helpful to keep them from itching, licking, or chewing their infection and from allowing the infected area to spread the fungus further around their environment. Sometimes you don’t know that someone who’s infected with ringworm has been in the environment you or your pet are in, and prevention can be more difficult. One great way to prevent your cat from getting diseases, in general, is to keep them inside and not allow them to roam the neighborhood unsupervised.
How to Tell if a Cat has Ringworm
Most ringworm in cats can be very difficult to detect because the typical ringworm lesions may show up very mildly in cats or sometimes not at all. Scaling of the skin may be a sign of ringworm in cats. Ringworm infects the claws, hair, and skin and may cause cats to lose fur where the hair has become infected. Also, there may be round, rough patches of skin in some cats with ringworm. When ringworm infects cats’ claws, the claws themselves will become pitted and rough and, over time, may become deformed. Cats may also have ringworm presenting no symptoms, which is called asymptomatic. This means they can still spread the disease without anyone knowing it came from them. This is most common in long-haired cats.
Transmission of Cat Ringworm
Ringworm is very contagious and is contracted usually by dogs, cats, or humans through direct contact with the disease. This contact may come from direct contact with an infected individual or contact with places or items with which the infected has had contact. Ringworm can stay on surfaces and objects for over a year sometimes. Not all contact will lead to infection. Those with weakened immune systems are more likely to contract the disease when coming into contact. Ringworm will stay a contagious disease in your cat for a few weeks after treatment begins. Hence, it is essential to isolate them as much as possible until they test negative through two consecutive culture tests.
Most veterinarians diagnose ringworm by taking a sample of the infected area for a culture to be sent off to a lab. The results of this test may come back in a few days but can take up to a few weeks. The culture test is the most accurate. Areas infected with ringworm fungus will also glow under a Wood’s Lamp, a unique UV lamp used in a dark room. However, this method is not as reliable and is usually confirmed through a culture test.
Treatment Options for Cats with Ringworm
There are a couple of ways that ringworm is treated, and the more aggressive the treatment plan, the quicker the infection will be over.
During this process, one thing to remember is to keep your infected cat isolated, clean and sanitize before, during, and after treatment the areas the infected cat had access to.
Sometimes the only treatment needed is a topical medicine to eliminate ringworm from a cat. The veterinarian may prescribe creams and ointments and sometimes even a medicated shampoo. The infected area may have to be shaved or trimmed in this process.
Oral medication is often used with topical treatments. The vet will prescribe an anti-fungal oral medication to help speed the treatment or if the case is more severe.
Call Your Lake Shore Pet Hospital Vet
Ringworm is a fungal affection that can affect many animals and also humans. Preventing ringworm is the best defense, although it can be difficult due to its high rate of spreading. Keeping your cat indoors and away from unfamiliar cats may be the best way to try and prevent them from contracting ringworm. Ringworm can be hard to see in cats due to their frequently more minor visible symptoms. This infection is highly contagious and may stay present on surfaces for over a year at times, and infected cats will remain infectious for a few weeks after treatment starts. Ringworm is diagnosed through a culture test. The treatment of ringworm comes through topical or oral means and sometimes both. One of the essential parts of treating ringworm is to clean and sanitize the infected cat’s areas while infected.
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You want only the best for your family and you always keep their best interests in mind. We understand your pet is a part of that family. Our veterinarian's mission at Lake Shore Pet Hospital is deeply rooted in treating you and your pet family how we'd like ours treated. We take great satisfaction in giving back to and developing strong bonds with the communities we serve, including Pasadena, Riviera Beach, and Lake Shore.