While cats can be afflicted by several types of worms, ringworm in fact is a fungal infection, not a worm

While cats can be afflicted by several types of worms, ringworm in fact is a fungal infection, not a worm. Ringworm is a fungus that can affect cats, dogs, and humans. While there are several different forms of ringworm, the most common form of ringworm in cats is caused by Microsporum Canis, or M. Canis. If you are a pet owner, you should be know how to identify and treat ringworm, and should be aware how it is transmitted.

How Do Cats Contract Ringworm?

While the ringworm fungus thrives in hot, humid climates, it most often manifests itself on our pets in the cooler months of autumn and winter. Ringworm is contracted by cats through contact with infected animals, including dogs, rats, mice, and other cats, or from the bedding or sleeping quarters of another pet. Also, fungal spores can be shed into the environment, where they can be picked up by a cat who spends time outdoors. Cats can also be asymptomatic carriers of the fungus, not showing any signs of infection themselves, but able to transmit the fungus to other animals.

What Are the Symptoms of Ringworm?

Ringworm can be identified by the presence of lesions, which may vary in appearance, but the most common manifestation is a small circular hairless lesion, often with scaly skin in the middle that may be inflamed and sensitive. These lesions can most often be found on the tail, head and ears. Ringworm can also appear as a more general skin disease, or may be the cause of chronic ear infections.

How is Ringworm Diagnosed?

While there are various methods used to identify ringworm, the only sure way to make this diagnosis is to perform a culture of the infected area. This is a fairly routine test that your veterinarian can perform for you.

Can Ringworm Be Prevented?

The best ways to prevent ringworm are:

1. Provide your cat with a healthy diet and caring living environment
2. Limit exposure

Cats whose immune systems have been weakened either by illness, age, or poor diet are much more susceptible to contracting ringworm. Young kittens are also more at risk until their immune systems become stronger. Because the risks of infection are higher outdoors, where there may be infected animals or live spores in the grass and soil, it would be wise to keep kittens, old cat, and sick cats indoors as much as possible. You can reduce your cat’s susceptibility to ringworm by feeding it a nutritionally-sound, healthy diet. Also, any new animal introduced into your household should first be tested for ringworm.

What is the Treatment for Ringworm?

Mild cases of ringworm may go away on their own, so long as your cat is otherwise healthy. Ringworm can also be treated topically with antifungal medication; in this case, the hair around the lesion should be clipped short, and the clipping instruments then sterilized. There are also oral and injectable ringworm treatments. Because ringworm spores can survive for a long time without a host – up to about eighteen months, cleanliness and good hygiene should be an integral part of your plan.

While you are treating your cat for ringworm your cat’s bedding should be laundered regularly. Wash and dry these fabrics at high temperatures, as the heat will kill the fungus, Hard surfaces in the house should be cleaned with a mild bleach solution. Vacuum carpets and upholstery frequently to pick up the fungal spores. Be sure to wear gloves when handling your cat and its bedding, and try to keep the kids away from the cat.
All pets in the household should be tested, even they do not show symptoms of ringworm. Sometimes animals can be infected by the fungus without showing any symptoms, but as a carrier, can transmit ringworm to other pets in the house.

Can Ringworm be Transmitted to People?

Unfortunately, yes. You and your children are susceptible to contracting ringworm from your pets. Children are at higher risk than adults. Prevention through good hygiene and proper nutrition is the best approach, but diagnosis and timely treatment for any infected pets will minimize the risk of your contracting ringworm from your cat.

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