What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Cat & How To Treat It

Posted by Dr. Jessica on

Unhappy Cat Skin Conditions Ringworm

Although ringworm may sound a bit gut-churning, it doesn't actually have anything to do with worms. Nevertheless, ringworm is one of the most common cat health issues affecting the global feline population, so it's worth knowing about.

Fuzzy’s team wants all cat parents to know what exactly a ringworm is, the signs and symptoms, and when to contact a vet.

What is Ringworm?

Ringworm is a fungal infection that's named after the ring-like shape of a rash that typically appears on infected animals. 

The fungi that cause this condition are called dermatophytes, which are microscopic organisms that flourish as parasites. When they find and entrench themselves into a host — such as a dog, sheep, bird, or cat — they thrive by consuming a protein from the cat's fur and nails. They reproduce quite quickly, forming millions of spores. 

When these fungi come in contact with a cat, several different events may take place. The dermatophytes either:

  • Get brushed off by the cat 
  • Disappear due to bigger microorganisms taking over
  • Establish residence on the cat's skin without causing symptoms
  • Settle on the cat's skin and cause dermatitis, which is an inflammatory disease 

What Does Ringworm Look Like on a Cat?

The "ring" of ringworm looks like a small circular lesion on a cat's skin. These rings are usually accompanied by hair loss and commonly appear on the head, ears, back, or front legs of their body, although they can appear anywhere. 

Other noticeable signs and symptoms of ringworm include:

  • Circular areas of hair loss
  • Stubbly and broken hair
  • Dandruff
  • Inflamed or red patches of skin 
  • Scaly, thick, or crusty skin
  • Changes in skin or hair color
  • Infected nail beds or claws
  • Excessive scratching or grooming

It's important to know that these symptoms vary in intensity and may be difficult to detect. 

When to Chat With a Vet 

Although ringworm isn't always life threatening, pet parents should be sure to contact the vet right away if they notice any of the above signs or symptoms. 

This is crucial for several reasons:

Ringworm Is Contagious

Ringworm is considered a zoonotic disease, which means it can spread from an infected cat to a human — especially someone who is immunocompromised. The condition can also get passed on to numerous other animal species. 

It Could Be Another Cat Skin Condition

Many of the symptoms of ringworm in cats are similar to those for other cat skin health issues, such as flea allergy dermatitis or alopecia (hair loss). Only a vet can rule out other conditions, give a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate cat skin care. 

Recovery Can Take Weeks

In some cases, ringworm goes away on its own. However, in other cases, it can take six weeks or more of repeated treatments to fully cure a ringworm infection. 

How We Can Help

We know you care deeply about your cat's health, and so do we. We offer proactive pet care for Fuzzy Members via 24/7 Live Vet Chat that can help pet parents answer any questions or concerns they may have about their pet's health.

Fuzzy was founded by pet parents for pet parents, and we're on a mission to empower and educate dog and cat parents so they may enrich and extend their pets' lives. Sign up today to get access to a veterinary support team 24/7 to always know what’s going on with your cat.

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