Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be passed on to humans from animals. It is not caused by a worm but by fungi which are called dermatophytes. In cats, ringworm is caused by Microsporium Canis and over 90% of cat ringworm can be attributed to this micro-organism. It is important to isolate a cat having ringworm infection in order to prevent it from contagiously spreading the infection to other cats as well as to humans.
How long does ringworm last in kittens?
If the kitten is sick or immune suppressed either due to stress or illness, then the ringworm could persist for several weeks, or months. Most kittens, however, are able to overcome the infection with proper care and medication.
Why is kitten ringworm quarantine necessary?
Kitten ringworm quarantine is important because it helps minimize the spread of the infection. Most kittens actually do not need any treatment for ringworm as it is a self curing disease. The only aim of treatment and isolation is to speed up the healing and also curb the spread of the fungal spores to the animal’s environment. Most healthy juvenile cats can get rid of ringworm within 70-100 days.
How to prevent the spreading of ringworm to other cats and humans/
Ringworm is just one of the contagious diseases that you need to be aware of when having multiple pets. The best thing you can do to minimize the spread of the ringworm causing fungi is to isolate or quarantine the infected cats and/or kittens. You must also keep pets vaccinated and make sure to feed them a healthy diet to build immunity.
Try to minimize the contact with the infected kittens or cats. Teach children to wash hands immediately after petting the animals. If the kitten is already undergoing treatment for ringworm, it is best to keep it away from the home- preferably in the garage or shed if you have one.
Wear separate clothing when coming in contact with the infected animals and wash all clothes immediately. If needed, keep all infected clothes separate and also wash them separately in hot water, using the highest setting of the washer-dryer. Wear flip-flops or rubber footwear to prevent picking up spores of the fungus and transferring it to other surfaces.
Diagnosis of cat ringworm
Your vet will thoroughly examine the animals’ coats, hair and skin. There are several tests available for proper diagnosis including lab culture test, lamp test or blood tests. In general, the vet would also look for lesions on the skin having crusting, scabbing and hair loss.
What to do once ringworm is diagnosed?
All suspect and diagnosed cases must be immediately isolated from other pets. Kittens and older cats as well as pregnant cats are most likely to get infected, so isolate them immediately. House each cat individually, if in case of a cat boarding facility. If you are unable to house the infected cat separately, you must be extra careful with the cleaning and disinfection of the surfaces.
Remove all bedding, soft toys and scratching posts from the infected kittens/cat’s pen. Throw away these materials if you suspect infection. Use disposable litter trays and discard them once daily.
Wash all feeding and water bowls with disinfectant soap solution. If needed, use disposable bowls.
Cleaning the home
Vacuum the house thoroughly. Wipe down all surfaces with bleach or antibacterial solution. Ringworm spores remain active for several days once the treatment has begun. So you must clean and vacuum the household every 3 days.
Dispose of the vacuum bags in the trash can. If need be, you could also burn the infectious waste. Dispose the cleaning cloths daily. Place all the cat’s materials (toys, bedding, bowls etc) in one plastic sealed bag to be disposed off.
If possible, steam clean or fog the area where the kitten or cat was housed for 5 days after mycological cure has been achieved.
Treatment of cat ringworm
The vet will prescribe the antifungal medicine based on the results of the culture taken from the cat’s lesions. Medicines like Itrafungol (Itraconazole)and Imaverol (Enilconazole)usually show great results. Kittens older than 10 days can be immediately treated successfully with Itrafungol. Protect the treated cats by using collars around their necks so that they are unable to lick their treated coats. Most antifungal medicines are available in the form of sprays. Other products for treating cat and kitten ringworm include shampoos as prescribed by the vet. Lime sulfur dip may also be used to ensure treating the cat’s ringworm completely.
How long must infected cats and kittens be kept in quarantine?
The length of time is not important. What is important is to treat the infected premises. As stated above, vacuum and clean all surfaces every few days, during and after treatment. Clip the cats’ hair to 6 cm length to deter growth and spread of fungus. Use aggressive mechanical cleaning and steam cleaning to disinfect all surfaces. Where needed, dispose away all items that you suspect to be infected.
Should you treat all other cats and kittens proactively even if they are not showing signs of ringworm?
The best thing to do is to bathe the asymptomatic cats and kittens using medicated shampoo. You can also use lime sulfur dip once a week. Make sure you isolate all infected animals.
How long do ringworm spores remain active?
The ringworm spores are actually dormant in the environment. However, they can be easily picked up by humans and animals. They can also remain viable for years. They can get carried on the cat’s coats and cause infection in case the animal is ill or stressed. The best thing to do to reduce contagion is to clean using aggressive mechanical methods.
Can I use the same comb/brush for all my cats?
Reusing the same brush to comb multiple cats is a surefire invitation to ticks, lice, fungal infections and other pet problems. Invest in economical plastic brushes and make sure you wash each one in hot water and disinfectant soap solution after use.
These simple tips can help you protect your pets from ringworm.