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  Ring Worm
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"Some people feel bad about feeding their cats the same thing every day, and they think the cat needs variety..."

"cats are creatures of habit and any changes in their environment can make them upset..."

"what cats really need are high-quality protein like duck, turkey or chicken and lots of water..."

"If you’re a cat-only person, you often take your cat just as seriously as you would a child..."

"At this time, Gordo is doing well with no observable lameness or recurrence two months post-operatively..."

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        how to get one
           Ringworm is a poorly named skin problem. It has nothing to do with worms. The causative agent in cats is one of two fungi that have a prediliction for the hair follicle or the hair shaft. In people, these fungi can cause a slightly raised, reddish ring, which may or may not be itchy and/or scaly- hence the ringworm misnomer.

           In cats the fungus will cause spreading, symmetric hair loss- usually a circular, growing bald spot. Often in cats, the area looks flaky. Occasionally, it is mildly inflamed and may or may not be itchy. Common sites of occurrence are the face, ears, paws, and nail beds. Cats pick up ringworm from direct contact with infected cats, dogs, birds, or people. It can also be spread indirectly by exposure to the fungal spores, which can exist in the environment. You can pet a dog or cat who has no lesions and if they are an symptomatic carrier you can transfer the fungus to yourself or your cat.

           Except in immune compromised patients, ringworm is usually not dangerous, but it can be stubborn to knock out. Often, it is self-limiting without treatment and after weeks the spots will stop growing as immunity steps in. Treatment will greatly speed up its resolution. Remember, the bald spot will persist from weeks to months depending on whether the hair follicles are at rest or active. A lack of spreading is an encouraging sign.

           Ringworm can be easy or difficult to diagnose because it has many appearances. One of the fungi- Microsporum canis will often fluoresce under ultraviolet light. This makes for a rapid in office diagnosis. Some M. Canis and all Trichophyton mentagrafides don’t fluoresce and identification requires a Fungal Culture which can take 5-14 days to become positive.

           Treatment initially, is usually just with antifungal ointments- we like Miconazole. Lamasil is good ointment, but we do not want the cat licking it. It either needs to be used sparingly and rubbed in like a vanishing crème or used only on parts of the cat, which he can’t lick like the head, ears or back of the neck.

           If topical medications do not work we can use systemic pills either Griesiofulvin or Itraconazole [Sporanox]. Blood tests are required with these medications to make sure they are not causing liver or kidney problems or bone marrow depression. This is why we usually reserve the systemics for refractive, severe cases. Sometimes medicated shampoos or dips are useful ancillary treatments.

           There is no way totally protect your cat or yourself from ringworm. Especially since it can be passed on via objects. An environment can be contaminated and the spores may remain infective; how long they remain infective, we are not sure. The good news is that if you have had a fair amount of pets- you are likely to be immune to ringworm from past exposure. However, petting strays could expose your cat, especially if the strays have crusty bald spots- so be careful.


The Cat Practice is located at 145 W 24th Street on the 3rd floor. Phone: 212-677-1401 Fax: 212-677-2088