Cat Ringworm — Symptoms and Signs

October 4, 2013

in Cat Health

by Kurt Schmitt

The most common infectious skin disease in domestic felines, cat ringworm is a fungal infection, and not a worm at all. It is easily spread by contact.

In otherwise healthy cats, the disease often resolves itself within 6 to 8 weeks. To prevent the spread of the disease and to resolve it more quickly, your veterinarian may prescribe treatment. More difficult cases may take weeks or months even with treatment. Cats with compromised immune systems may take even longer and experience more severe symptoms.

Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is a fungus which feeds on keratin. Keratin is a protein found in skin, hair and nails.

The disease gets its name from the round ring-like appearance seen on the skin. The classic ringworm symptom presents as patches of hair loss which appear as circular scaly areas with raised edges. These symptoms are fairly easy to spot.

The initial symptoms include dry, flaky skin. The most common locations for infection are the head, face, ears, tail, and paws. In addition, you may see bald areas on the legs, ears, and around the eyes.

In severe cases in cats with compromised immune systems, more serious symptoms may develop. If left untreated, crusty lesions that may become red and sore, as well as infected may develop.

The symptoms list for cat ringworm includes loss of hair (or broken hair) in circular patterns and hair loss in irregular patterns. Also visible is scaly, bumpy, red, or inflamed skin, and possibly deformed claws. Your cat may scratch the affected areas, but not all cases present with itchiness, and some cats may experience little to no hair loss with this disease.

Only your veterinarian can diagnose cat ringworm. You should call your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has this illness.

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