Tuesday 8 May 2012

Home Treatment for Cat Ringworm

This is how I manage my cat's ringworm. Important: you don't know me and you don't know whether I am good or bad at this sort of thing so please see your veterinarian. I am writing about my home treatment for cat ringworm because I think I know cats well. I believe I would not take risks with my cat's health and my veterinarian agreed that I could treat my cat on an ad hoc (unscheduled) basis. Therefore I would like to write about it. He said that it was difficult to diagnose cat ringworm. The available techniques were not that reliable and in his experience he found it difficult to confirm that a cat had ringworm. It is also difficult to see on a cat most times. Your vet may have different ideas. My vet is good, though.

Ringworm on a person it is very easy to see (see picture). But on a cat there is, of course, hair in the way and secondly the ringworm does not form the same kind of obvious rings as seen on people in my experience. You might know that ringworm can be transmitted from cat to person (zoonotic) and that it is not a worm but a fungus.

I actually saw the ringworm on my cat. It showed up as an elongated area on the base of his tail where the hair was sparse (it was not ring shaped). It was sparse because my cat had licked the hair off. He had licked the hair repeatedly because the ringworm irritated him. Ringworm itches slightly. It is not bad but noticeable sometimes.

Cat ringworm might be fairly obvious. However, usually it isn't. As a result I developed a technique for diagnosing cat ringworm. First look for obvious signs. You might see bald patches or thin patches of fur. Secondly, if you pass a flea comb through the fur you will feel irregularities on the surface of the skin as the comb passes over the skin. These irregularities are the flaky inflamed parts of the skin caused by the ringworm. As the comb passes over the skin you can also hear the irregularities.

Note 1: This technique is difficult and probably impractical to employ if your cat has long fur and it is not regularly groomed.

Note 2: If your cat has a single coat and is placed in the sun you can see where the fur is thin due to over grooming cause by irritation due to the presence of cat ringworm.

Note 3 : The flea comb should be in gentle contact with the cat's skin as it passes through the fur. Gentleness is key. Never be hard with a cat.

If you feel or hear cat ringworm utilizing the above technique, you should be able to see it on your cat's skin if you comb back the fur in the area where you have detected it. This is difficult to do but possible.

When you detect the damaged surface of the skin hold the fur back and apply standard human grade ringworm treatment to the spot. Note: caution. I only advise what I know works. Drugs vary from place to place so don't do it unless you are sure it is safe. Never take medical risks with your cat for the sake of few quid or bucks.

I use (in the UK) Daktarin GOLD 2% Cream. This is marketed as for athletes foot but it kills fungi and was recommended by my pharmacist (fungal treatment are almost universal it seems).  It works well in clearing up ringworm on people and I can vouch for the fact that it helped my cat substantially. My cat licks less and the bald or thin patches of fur have gone. I just checked in the sun about 20 minutes ago.

Update three weeks later: This treatment has worked very well for my cat. I am very pleased with the results. Conventional treatments for cats can be uncomfortable.

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