The Facts About Feline Ringworm
Feline ringworm, not actually a worm at all, is the result of fungus-like organisms called dermatophytes. Ringworm in cats is rather infectious and the common skin condition can easily be transmitted to other cats as well as to dogs and humans.
Feline ringworm often affects kittens, or cats less than one year whose immune systems have not yet fully developed. Breeds of cat with long fur also tend to have ringworm more often than their short haired counterparts as the fungus lives and thrive in the hair follicles.
The fungus that causes ringworm in cats will be of one of three forms, either microsporum canis, microsporum gypsum, or trichophyton with the first being the most common culprit.
Signs and Symptoms
Cats with ringworm will have bare, usually round shaped patches on the skin because the fungus weakens the follicles causing the fur to fall out. The cat’s skin will often be dry and flaky in appearance, and sometimes, red or pinkish due to the itching and inflammation.
Diagnosing Feline Ringworm
There are several accurate methods of diagnosing feline ringworm, but the most common, and quickest, way is using a simple ultraviolet lamp.
When the light is shined upon the cat’s skin, the fungus will glow with a telltale fluorescent green color.
A veterinarian may also do a lab test by taking a few strands of the cat’s hair and using a lab culture, see if any of the fungi responsible for ringworm appear. An examination of the hair under a microscope can also be used to determine the presence of feline ringworm.
Treating Feline Ringworm
Fortunately, a healthy cat’s body and immune system will take care of the problem of feline ringworm all on its own with no need for intervention on your part, yet another example of how independent these fascinating animals really are. But, in the event that the fungus has caused a severe infection or seems to be spreading rapidly, you will need to administer treatment as soon as possible.
Using cat shampoo with lime sulfur is one of the most common ways of treating feline ringworm, although we all know how most all cats feel about getting a bath. If your cat has long fur, clipping it first will help the shampoo be more effective.
There are also antifungal medications your veterinarian can prescribe for eradicating feline ringworm. And, remember that households with multiple cats will need to administer treatment all around to ensure the condition doesn’t spread.
Preventing Ringworm in Cats
Some pet owners are unaware that there is actually a vaccine for feline ringworm, which is actually a series of three shots administered after a kitten reaches the age of four months. Do keep in mind that this vaccination only protects cats from a single form of the fungus that causes ringworm; however, it is the one type that affects the vast majority of felines.
Keeping your cat away from other cats or dogs affected with ringworm is, of course, one of the best ways of preventing the bothersome skin condition. You should also keep their environment clean by vacuuming frequently and wiping down any surfaces your cat comes in contact with using a mixture of bleach and water to kill the fungi spores and help prevent the return of feline ringworm.