What exactly is Ringworm on cats? Ringworm is probably THE most common of skin infection in cats that there is. Although its name makes you think a worm is involved – this is very misleading because this skin disease is not caused by some kind of worm at all. Ringworm is caused by fungus known as Dermatophytes that feeds on a protein found in skin, nails and hair which is called keratin.
There are three species of ringworm that commonly affects cats. The most of these is Microsporum canis or M Canis, which is the type found in nearly 95% of cases of ringworm on cats. The other two types of ringworm on cats are Trichophyton mentagrophytes (contracted by contact with rodents), and Microsporum gypseum/fulvum (contracted by contact with spores in soil).
Ringworm is spread by contact with the fungal spores (called arthrospores). It can be by contact with an infected animal, or a by contact with a carrier animal that doesn’t show any symptoms. It may also can be contracted by direct contact with the fungal spores in the environment. Like many spores, ringworm spores are quite resistant to environmental factors, and they can survive for up to eighteen months.
Not all animals exposed to ringworm will actually develop the disease, as it depends on the strength of their immune system. Some cats may become infected but will not develop any obvious signs of ringworm, and some of these animals will go on to become a-symptomatic carriers.
Sheaths of arthrospores on an infected animal are found around their infected areas, that is their hair strands, nails and skin. These spores are then shed and can travel. They are commonly found in furniture, carpeting and cat bedding, and even in air filters. Usually ringworm on cats can be contracted by contact with contaminated objects such bedding, grooming products and even clippers. It is easily caught from another animal that already has ringworm. If there are animals in your home or around your house that have ringworm , your cat may catch it very easily from them.
Ringworm is a “zoonotic” disease, which means it can be passed from animals on to humans. Cats, dogs, goats, pigs, cows and horses are all able to pass ringworm on to humans. However, it should be noted that Microsporum canis can be transmitted to humans, while not all other types of ringworm can be.
If you have kittens or cats that are less than a year old in your house, you should always use precautions, because younger animals are more susceptible to any infectious disease, including ringworm. Kittens can easily contract the disease, especially if you allow them to go outside. They can easily come into contact with a contaminated object or another cat that has the disease. Kittens take a long time to build up their immune system and are therefore more likely to contract a common disease such as ringworm.
The most common symptoms of ringworm on cats are rough hairs or broken hairs and hair loss around the head and also around the paws – most usually in a circular pattern. Ringworm can be easily identified by a piece of scaly skin on the body that appears itchy and inflamed. There will also be broken hairs around the patch of scaly skin. The most common areas for ringworm infection are the face, the ears, the tail, and the paws:
If you notice any of the above symptoms of ringworm on cats, you should immediately schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. If the vet diagnosis confirms your cat has ringworm, he may prescribe ointment or tablets. What he prescribes will determine the severity of the ringworm infection.
Often a visual diagnosis is all that is required. Some vets may take a scraping and grow a culture, others may use an ultraviolet light on an infected area. M Canis will glow under an ultraviolet light.
Ring worm is known as a self-limiting disease, which means that usually it will clear up on its own as the cat’s immune system overcomes the ringworm infection, however this may take a few months. And not all cats are able to fight off the disease themselves. There is the possibility that a genetic predisposition may be involved sometimes. Cats will normally become immune to ringworm, unless for some reason they are immuno-suppressed.
If the vet prescribes tablets to your cat, you should give them with your cat’s meals. The ointment, on the other hand, is normally spread topically onto the coat. You should always use what your vet prescribes on a daily basis to ensure that your cat heals. The healing process will take time, normally around six weeks or more.
Cats that have ringworm should be treated as infectious. If you have children at home, you should keep them away from your cat. Whenever you deal with your cat and the ringworm on cats skin, you should always wear gloves. Ringworm is very contagious so you should always be careful with cross infection. Even if it is a mild disease, ringworm on cats can result in serious problems due to the slow recovery time and that is contagious.
From a natural point of view – ringworm is actually very easy to treat using simple, natural home remedies. You might like to try Apple Cider Vinegar or Colloidal Silver applied topically to the lesions. Many people report great results using one or both these.
My recommended treatment is here: Natural ringworm treatment