As pet owners, it’s important to be aware of and educated about all of the possible illnesses and diseases that could affect your pet. If you have a cat, you’ve likely heard about ringworm – but this disease is one of the most misunderstood.
WHAT IS RINGWORM?
Because of its name, many pet owners assume that ringworm is a parasite or a worm. However, ringworm is actually a fungus that infects your cat’s skin, hair and nails. Ringworm presents itself as skin lesions and can cause hair loss. Minor irritations like flaky skin, dandruff or redness are common, whereas more severe cases can spread across the cat’s entire body.
HOW DO CATS GET RINGWORM?
Ringworm can be spread one of two ways. Most often, cats will get ringworm through contact with another infected animal. But ringworm can also be passed through infected items, like blankets and dishes. Infected animals shed their infected skin and hairs and can end up on these items, and then get passed onto other animals that come into contact with them.
Cats of any age can get ringworm, but young kittens and senior cats are the most vulnerable to this infection. Ringworm thrives in humid and warm environments, making areas with these conditions most prone to ringworm infections.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY CAT HAS RINGWORM?
If you suspect that your cat might have ringworm, it’s important to first get a proper diagnosis. At the first sign of ringworm, take your cat to your veterinarian. If it’s not treated early, it could spread across your cat’s entire body. It’s also important to get it treated at the first sign because it spreads so easily – not just to animals. Ringworm is zoonotic, meaning it’s transmittable to people. Your veterinarian will give your cat a thorough inspection and may even use ultraviolet light to give a proper diagnosis.
HOW CAN I PREVENT RINGWORM FROM SPREADING?
Once your cat has been properly diagnosed, it’s important that you do everything you can to keep the infection from spreading. Here’s how:
- Always wash your hands after touching your cat.
- Make sure you bathe all of your pets, not just the infected one, with a medicated shampoo.
- Wash all of your pet’s bedding and toys with a ringworm-approved disinfectant.
- Vacuum regularly to keep ringworm spores and infected hairs and skin cells at bay.
If you suspect your cat might have ringworm, don’t wait.