Ringworm in cats is a fungal infection that feeds on keratin. Keratin is mainly found in hair, skin and nails. Medically known as Dermatophytosis or Dermatomycosis, the ringworm infection affects the superficial dead layers of the skin and hair. The fungus thrives on the dead tissues in the skin and multiplies with time. The fungus attacks and damages the hair shafts, leading to round patches of hair loss. The ringworm infection usually affects cats of less than 12 months of age, malnourished cats, cats with a weakened immune system and those suffering from diseases. The infection is highly contagious and can easily spread to other animals and humans through direct contact. It can also be transmitted indirectly through bedding, brushes and grooming equipment used on an infected animal. Read through the following lines to know the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of ringworm in cats.
Symptoms Of Ringworm In Cats
- The best way to identify the signs of ringworm in cats is to check their skin lesions. A cat so infected exhibits circular patches of hair loss around the head, ears and tail. The infection later on spreads to other body parts as well, such as the face, nose, chin, lips and limbs.
- Initially, the patches are in small dots. With time, they grow bigger and change in shape and size takes place.
- The feline may experience redness, irritation and itching around the area of infection.
- The cat’s skin becomes dry and flaky and gradually, the claws and claw beds too get infected with the ringworm.
- A ringworm affected cat suffers from hair loss too, though the degree of shedding varies from mild to severe, depending upon the individual.
- When neglected, the fungus can infect the nails or nail beds also. This can be seen from the distorted and damaged nails.
- The cat is likely to scratch more frequently, especially around the area surrounding the ears.
Treatment Of Ringworm In Cats
The most effective dips are the lime sulfur dips. However, the dip can yellow the coat of the feline, which would fade only with time. Prevent your cat from licking its coat before it has completely dried, else it can induce vomiting. For longhaired cats, it becomes important to clip the body hair to increase the effects of the treatment and reduce environmental contamination. Bath your cat after every 4 to 6 days for about 2 to 4 weeks.
The most commonly used anti-fungal drug is Griseofulvin. It alters the structure and function of microtubules, thereby strengthening the cat’s immune system and helping it to fight the infection. The drug is available in tablet form, which should be given to the cat, 2 times a day, along with the food. However, Griseofulvin should not be given to stud cats, pregnant felines or females that you plan to breed within 2 months of the treatment, as it can lead to birth defects. The side effects of this drug include nausea, fever, lethargy, diarrhea and anemia. In rare cases, it can also lead to bone marrow suppression and liver disease. Also, pregnant women should avoid handling this drug. Other drugs that can be used for treating ringworm are Ketoconazole (Nizoral), Itraconazole and Terbinafine (Lamisil).
The most effective topical ointments used for treating ringworm in cats are thiabendazole or miconazole. These creams can be applied on the infected parts of the skin. To increase the effectiveness of these creams, it is suggested to clip your cat’s hair, depending upon the breed. Other ointments like Novasan, Conofite, Tresaderm and Lotrimin can also be considered for the same.