How Do I Treat Ringworm in My Cat?

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What is Ringworm?

Within the family of mushroom-shaped fungi, there are a variety of infections that may affect your pet, including ringworm. Cats are more prone to ringworm than dogs because they can become infected from other animals, people, or infected items like bedding.

Ringworm is an infection that mostly affects the skin. It is not caused by a worm. Instead, the fungus invades the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) and the hair follicles. Once under the skin, the fungus grows into a ring-shaped infection around the hair follicles. Due to the hair loss, the fungus is actually visible as a ring.

How Can I Tell It’s Ringworm?

If you spot a bald patch on your cat, it is important to rule out ringworm as a possible cause. Ringworm is a fungus that can cause a circular hairless patch on your pet. The fungus is spread by direct contact with an infected animal or through the air. It is relatively rare in the U.S. because of routine treatment and breeding practices. Cats are most susceptible to tinea catis, which is a fungal infection caused by ringworm. It affects your pet’s skin and hair.

Signs You Might Be Looking at Ringworm in Your Cat

Does the bald patch also have a scale or crusty appearance?

Is the appearance well defined or does it look splotchy?

Is the patch painful?

If your cat is affected by ringworm, the bald patch will usually appear as patches of fine, short, dark brown hair surrounded by long, clear fur. Learn more about how to determine if your cat has ringworm or other health issues.

Diagnosing Ringworm in Cats

Since ringworm is a fungus, it can’t be seen with the human eye. But it can be diagnosed with the help of a microscope. Find out what the microscopic spores look like and if you need to see an expert, here is some information about the microscopic spores of ringworm, or dermatophytes.

If you have a black light in your home, it can help you in the diagnosis. Put a simple black light in the room where your cat is most often found. If your cat has ringworm, the black light will illuminate any spores that might be on him. A visual differentiation between the brown or gray spores and the white hair would be clear during the night.

Not only will a black light help you see the spores better, the ringworm fungus tends to "glow in the dark" under a black light.

The best way to confirm a diagnosis of ringworm is for an expert or veterinarian to look at a sample of your cat’s skin under a microscope. A simple skin scraping can be used to determine if your cat really has ringworm.

Although it may seem costly to go to the veterinarian, you’ll save money in the long run by avoiding costs to replace the carpet or the upholstery in your home.

Treatment for Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm is a skin condition that can affect cats, dogs, and people. Ringworm in cats is caused by a fungus called Tinea. The fungal infection occurs when the skin is exposed to an infected cat and becomes contaminated. It can even take place after petting an infected cat. Cat-to-cat transmission of ringworm (feline ringworm) is common, but infection of dogs with ringworm is rare.

To learn how to treat ringworm in cats, you will first need to confirm a diagnosis by taking a sample of the infected cat’s skin. Generally, a vet can tell if your cat has ringworm by simply looking at the affected area and a diagnosis is often confirmed by taking a biopsy.

Once you have confirmed a ringworm diagnosis, your vet will prescribe a ringworm treatment that’s suitable for your cat. In some cases, it’s possible to treat ringworm at home with over-the-counter medications. It’s important to realize that ringworm can spread very quickly, which is why you must get a prescription to treat ringworm immediately.