Many people take the name feline ringworm literally and believe that the disease is brought on by a worm. The truth is that it's caused by a fungus. This fungus mainly infects the hair and skin, but can also make its way to the nails.
Ringworm in cats is very, very contagious. If you have multiple cats, then one can infect the other very easily. Owners also need to be aware that they can become infected with the fungus too. Infected animals easily transmit the disease by coming into direct contact with other animals. The fungus can also reside in food dishes and bedding, and infect your cat when he comes into contact with it.
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Just because your cat has been infected with the fungus that causes feline ringworm doesn't mean that he will show signs though. The spores may simply reside on your cat without causing any symptoms for a long period of time. These spores are capable of surviving in the environment for months and months.
Ringworm in cats can become a problem for any feline regardless of age, sex, or breed. However, certain groups have a higher risk than others. Kittens and older cats alike share an increased risk for infection. Also, cats with long hair or a weakened immune system will have a higher risk too.
When signs of feline ringworm appear, they're quite easy to notice. Your cat will develop bald patches on various areas of his body. Each patch will be circular in nature, and may also have a flaky appearance, with a red dot appearing in the center.
The areas that are usually affected include the ears, limbs, and head. Milder cases of ringworm in cats only causes bald patches in smaller areas. The disease can progress though and cause problems over the entire body.
Although the signs of feline ringworm are quite noticeable, your vet will have to do more than just take a look at your cat in order to make a diagnosis. The condition can be diagnosed very easily using an ultraviolet light that will make the fungus glow when exposed to it. The vet may also choose to take a skin biopsy or even examine the fungus under a microscope.
Medicated shampoos or ointments are usually effective in getting rid of ringworm in felines. Some cats may be given oral medication to combat the disease though. As mentioned earlier, the fungus is quite hardy. Therefore, this medication may need to be given for a period of months to ensure that your cat doesn't have a reinfection.
If your cat has ringworm, then you'll need to be very careful when handling him. Always make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly after you handle him. It's also important that you use a special disinfectant on the bedding, food dishes, and any other areas that your cat comes into contact with.
Feline ringworm spreads very easily, and your other pets may have been infected too. It's a good precaution to use the medicated ointment or shampoo on your other pets too. This is especially important if they shed a lot.