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Keeping Tabs on Ringworm

There’s nothing more soothing than pushing your thumbs across the silky fur adorning your moggie’s forehead or stroking its super smooth flanks. Half the fun of owning a cat is sharing a caring caress.

Sadly when ringworm comes calling our fluffy friend’s can suffer with inflamed broken skin and hair loss. Ringworm (or dermatophytosis) is an infection caused by a fungus that can grow on the skin. It’s the most common contagious skin infection in cats and can also affect people.

Ringworm has nothing to do with worms, but takes its name from the circular pattern it commonly creates on its host’s skin. These marks on the skin are much trickier to spot through a pet’s fur than they are on a human, so it’s wise to keep an eye out for roughly circular areas of hair loss if you suspect your cat may have ringworm.

Infected areas can be similar in appearance to those affected by other skin problems, including flea allergies and dermatitis. Some loss of hair is usually involved, but the amount of inflammation, scaling and itchiness (pruritus) can vary.

Closely examine your cat’s coat and skin for lesions. Look for any areas of hair loss, scabbing or crusting, especially around the face, ears, feet and tail.

As with any complaint, it’s beneficial to be able to spot this problem as it arises and get kitty to the vet as soon as possible for treatment and advice. If in any doubt, best to pass your cat before the eyes of an expert.

A feline can get ringworm through contact with an infected animal or indirectly through contact with bedding, dishes and other materials that have been contaminated with the skin or hair of an infected animal. Ringworm spores are hardy and can survive in the environment for more than a year.

Because ringworm can easily spread to you and other pets, if you suspect the infection is present, your cat should be quarantined until a vet can confirm a diagnosis. You should also thoroughly wash your hands after touching your cat.

Depending on the severity of the infection, your vet may prescribe a shampoo or ointment that contains medication to kill the fungus. He may also call you back for rechecks over the course of several months in order to ensure that you’ve eradicated ringworm. It’s also essential to treat the cat’s environment too, to prevent any reoccurrence.

2 April 2015

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