Tuesday 29 November 2011

Cat Ringworm

Horror picture of ringworm on a person's neck! Chris very kindly agreed to let me publish his photograph here. Chis (or Ian) adopted a "pound kitten". For people not in the United States this means a unwanted kitten picked up by animal control and placed in a pound where he or she might be euthanized or adopted. Do I have that correct, Chris? He had to quarantine his kitten (in a spare room) and administer oral anti-fungal medication and anti-fungal shampoo and he did the same to himself! Anyway, it was a bit of a heavy scene. Chris recommends that you assume that a pound (or shelter?) kitten has cat ringworm and that you shampoo him or her with anti-fungal shampoo as a precaution. He must have been cuddling his kitten against his neck.

Note: Cat Ringworm transmission to people is unusual as far as I am aware. Please don't let this put you off rescuing.

Ringworm - you wanted to know how it looks!
Photo copright ianfinnesey (please ask him if you wish to use it)

Go to the Flickr page to see the photo on Flickr if you wish. It looks horrible but in my experience all you get is a bit of itching.

As is clear, cat ringworm can be transferred from cat to people (zoonotic) and from cat to cat and from people to cats. It is in fur and in the soil and on carpets and furniture etc. As you probably have guessed or know it is not caused by a worm but by a fungus.

You have probably also guessed that you cannot always tell if your cat has ringworm. Well I can't and I have got it from a stray cat who I called Timmy. There was no sign of it on him but he used to rub my legs when he came to see me and transferred it to my left leg. Apparently, if you do see it on cats it is in form of patches on the face and ears (ear flap). Cats can be carriers and have no symptoms. Cat ringworm can "invade the claws" causing deformities of the claws.

Cat ringworm on nose (I believe). Photo by Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue

Ringworm "invades the hair and hair follicles"(1).  Most cases are caused by a fungus called Microsporum canis. The name ringworm comes from the shape of the red scaly shape the infection causes on the skin.

Cat Ringworm Treatments and Medication

This section refers to treating cats! Medications are American. Clip away infected hair around the ringworm (if visible). Clean the skin with Betadine solution. Antifungal creams can be applied. These should contain: miconazole, chlorhexidine, clotrimazole or thiabendazole. Examples are: Conofite and Nolvasan (USA). Apply once per day. Continue for 6 weeks.

If the cat has generalised ringworm: this requires the hair to be clipped and the cat dipped in an anti-fungal solution such as LymDyp (USA product) twice per week until cured + 2 more weeks. Plus an oral anti-fungal medicine should be administered. Caution: these drugs can cause side effects - SEEK VETERINARY ADVICE. Apparently itraconazole causes fewer side effects.

A vaccine is available. Ask your vet.


Ringworm spores can survive for a year. The premises needs to be treated. Cat bedding should be discarded. Grooming equipment should be sterilised (bleach + water). House should be cleaned carefully. Carpets should be vacuumed regularly. Hard surfaces should be sterilised. Handle infected cats with rubber gloves.

Note: (1) Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook page 157.

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