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Ringworm in Cats

What is Ringworm?

Although it’s called ringworm it’s not actually a worm. Ringworm is a fungus. It gets its descriptive name from how it appears on the skin as a raised, round ring, although not all infections look ring-like. The medical name for ringworm is dermatophytosis. This highly contagious fungal infection affects both pets and humans. Ringworm spores can be found on the animal or in the environment such on the bedding — anything that comes in contact with the animal’s hair. The microscopic organisms known as dermatophytes, feed on the keratin in the animal’s nails and hair.

In cats, ringworm is commonly found on the front legs, head, chest area and down the back.

How it’s Transmitted

Transmission occurs by coming in direct contact with the infected animal’s hair or by coming in contact items in an environment that have also been in contact with the animal’s hair. The fungal spores can live on items in the environment in a dormant state for up to 18 months.  Young cats, ones living in stressful conditions or cat-dense environments, geriatric cats and ones with compromised immune systems are more likely to become infected. Many healthy adults usually have a resistance to the fungal infection.

 

Symptoms of Ringworm

The typical symptom is a crusty skin patch with missing hair or broken-off, stubble-like hair. You may also notice skin inflammation, dandruff, or nail infections. The cat may groom or scratch excessively.  Lesions most commonly appear on the head, ears, tail or nails. Ringworm lesions may or may not cause irritation and itching.

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