What is Ringworm, and How Do Cats Get It?

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Ringworm is an infection caused by a common fungus. Although it’s called a “ringworm,” it has nothing to do with worms. In cats, ringworm can cause skin lesions, hair loss, itching, and discomfort. If you think your cat may have ringworm, it’s essential to know how to identify and treat the infection quickly.


How do Cats Get Ringworm?


Ringworm is a fungal infection affecting humans and animals, and cats are especially vulnerable.

The fungus is highly contagious, spread through contact of the skin or fur with contaminated objects or even other animals.

Symptoms include circular lesions on the skin that may appear scaly and itchy to the touch. In cats, ringworm can manifest as patches of baldness due to the shedding of infected hair follicles.

Veterinary testing involving a biopsy or ultra-violet light is the only way to diagnose ringworm in an affected animal definitively.

Fortunately, it is easily treated with antifungal medications that may be administered orally or topically.

To prevent infection, practice good hygiene by avoiding contact with infected items and regularly cleaning litterboxes—or indirect contact (such as sharing toys or food dishes).


Identifying Ringworm in Cats


Identifying ringworm in cats can be a tricky task since the infection presents itself as circular patches with missing fur on the skin.

However, your cat’s behavior might give you clues in determining if it has ringworm.

Symptoms such as excessive scratching or licking are common indicators of an allergic reaction that could be caused by the presence of ringworm fungus.

Though these symptoms are not definitive signs, paying attention and taking your cat to the vet for further testing if any arise is essential.

During testing, your veterinarian may conduct a fungal culture or perform a Wood’s lamp exam to identify whether or not this contagious and treatable condition has infected your cat.


Treating Ringworm in Cats


Ringworm is a common, yet very treatable, fungal infection in cats. The most effective way to treat it is with topical or oral antifungal medication prescribed by a veterinarian.

Sometimes, a vet might also suggest using antiseptic shampoos or creams during treatment.

Although this infection is contagious to other animals and humans, with proper treatment and preventive measures such as frequent grooming and cleaning of your cat’s environment, avoiding contact between affected and healthy cats, and wearing gloves when handling an affected cat, you can rapidly reduce the risk of further spread of the infection.

Ultimately, consulting your vet upon first suspicion of ringworm will ensure that the infection is quickly addressed in the best possible way and will minimize potential dangers for people sharing a space with your feline friend.


Once diagnosed with ringworm, your vet will prescribe antifungal medication for your cat.


Most cases of ringworm can be treated successfully with 10–14 days of oral antifungal medications such as griseofulvin or terbinafine tablets. Your vet may also recommend topical treatments such as miconazole cream or shampoo for severe cases of ringworm.

Additionally, you should thoroughly clean areas where your pet sleeps or plays using a solution containing 1 part bleach to 30 parts water to kill any remaining spores from the environment.


Can housecats get ringworm if there are no other cats?


Yes, house cats can get ringworm even if no other cats are present. This is because a fungus causes ringworm and can live in soil or on surfaces such as furniture, pet bedding, or carpeting.

Thus, while your cat may not be exposed to the fungus through another animal, direct contact is not always necessary.

Consequently, you should always take appropriate precautions to ensure that your cat’s environment is clean and free of infected materials.

This includes regularly cleaning pet bedding and vacuuming hair that may have been shed.

Additionally, check your cat for signs of ringworm, such as patches of baldness or scales with red halos, because early detection is essential for successful treatment.




Ringworms are highly contagious among animals but luckily curable if caught early enough. If you think your cat may have contracted this infection, take them to their veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. With prompt treatment from a qualified professional and diligent home care practices, you can help ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy

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