Despite their name, ringworms are not actually a worm, but an infection of the skin, hair, and nails caused by a fungus known as dermatophyte. This highly contagious disease is the most common fungal skin infection and can cause patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. Ringworms can live in the environment for more than a year and often spread to people and other animals in the house. Cats can develop ringworm after contact with an infected animal or with bedding, dishes, grooming tools, furniture, or other objects contaminated with the skin cells or hair of an infected animal. All cats are susceptible to ringworms, however kittens, geriatric cats, longhaired cats, and those with a compromised immune system are particularly vulnerable.
• skin lesions on the face, ear tips, tail, and feet
• bald scaly patches with broken hairs in ring-like whirls
• scabs from secondary infection
• dry, cracked, brittle nails
Ringworms can quickly spread to other animals in the household (or in a shelter or kennel) so it’s important to quarantine infected animals until you can visit the vet for a proper diagnosis. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after touching your cat.