Diagnosing Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm in cats is an infection caused by fungi that are present on the cat's skin. The fungi cause itchiness and circular lesions on the skin. The name given to the infection is due to the false belief that the symptoms are caused by worms.

How Is the Infection Transmitted?

The infection with ringworm is caused by contact with other infected animals. The spores of the fungi can survive in an environment for a few weeks and even months; these spores may be present in carpets, couches or gardens and a cat may get infected if in contact with any of these fungi spore sources.

Symptoms of Ringworm Infection

The fungi feed on the skin, hair and dead skin tissues of the infected animal. The infection will cause a ring shaped lesion. The hair will also fall out in the lesion area, forming a circular shape.

These lesions are scaly and may be common on the cat's face, ears or back. The lesions may be very small or larger and in time, they increase in size.

The symptoms occur after the incubation period, which lasts 10 to 14 days.

Common symptoms of the ringworm infection include:

  • Itchy skin
  • Red skin
  • Inflamed skin

The cat will chew, lick and bite the lesion area; the contact with the saliva may lead to other infections and this is why immediate treatment should be administered.

Diagnosing Feline Ringworm

The ringworm infection may be diagnosed by running a few tests. Even if the lesions and their shape may point to ringworms, it is important to confirm the diagnosis.

The Wood's lamp test is used to detect the fungi. The vet will use an ultra violet lamp and if the fungi are present, they will glow.

The vet may also take a skin and hair sample and analyze these under the microscope to detect any possible fungi. A sample of the skin from the lesion may also be needed for analysis.

Treating Ringworm in Cats

The infection with ringworm can go away without treatment in 2 to 5 months. However, the disease is unpleasant for the pet, so it is necessary to get some treatment to heal your pet sooner.

The vet will recommend anti-fungal drugs and ointments. Griseofulvin is an efficient medication that stops the fungi from reproducing.

Shampoos that contain sulfur may also eliminate the harmful fungi. Use the prescribed shampoo twice per week and make sure you follow your vet's recommendations.

However, some of the side effects of these sulfur containing shampoos include coat discoloration. Your cat may have a yellow/orange coat until the treatment is discontinued.

As ringworm fungi may survive for a long time in unclean environments, make sure to clean your cat's crate, change the bedding and vacuum your home. Use bleach to make sure the fungi and the spores are destroyed.

The ringworm infection may be transmitted to humans, so you may get infected by patting your cat or grooming other pets that carry the fungi spores. Wash your hands after grooming or patting any pets.