Ringworm is a relatively common fungal infection that affects the hair, skin, or nails of various animals including cats, dogs, and humans. In cats, ringworm is the most common cause of skin infections even though the condition is more common in dogs. Cats with ringworms sometimes develop skin lesions but the condition usually goes away on its own.
Ringworm is caused by various fungi, usually Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, or Trichophyton bacteria. Ringworms are spread when cats come in contact with infected animals or when fungus spores are shed by infected animals into your cat’ living environment. Spores can survive for up to 24 months so if you’ve had an infected animal in your home it is important to take preventative measures to ensure that your cat does not develop ring worms. Animal professionals need to be especially careful not to spread ringworm; fungal spores have been found in boarding facilities, on groomers’ equipment, and even in veterinary offices.
Cats with ringworms will often have skin lesions but there are other symptoms of ringworms as well. Classically, a small, round, hairless lesion may appear in an area and this lesion may have scaly skin. In other infections, ringworms may spread across the face of your cat and may appear as a more generalized skin infection.
In many cases, ringworms in cats are treated with a topical ointment which is applied directly to the infected skin lesion. Miconazole and thiabendazole are among the most common anti-fungal treatments used for cats but it is also important to ensure that your cat eats a healthy diet. In very severe cases of cat ringworms, a combination of oral and topical treatments may be necessary. Long-haired cats may need to be shaved to receive treatment but veterinarians often differ on this approach. Ringworms are not deadly but they can be transmitted easily so take any ringworm infection seriously.