What is Dermatophytosis?
Dermatophytosis, more commonly called ringworm, is a contagious, fungal infection of the skin, scalp or claws. More specifically, it tends to strike the face, ear tips, tail and feet.
How does my cat get Dermatophytosis?
You may be surprised to learn that this condition is not actually caused by a worm, but rather a type of fungus known as a dermatophyte. These parasitic, spore-producing organisms are prevalent in the environment and can afflict a cat through the skin (open cut or wound). Identified as a zoonotic disease, ringworm can be spread from cat to cat, person to cat, dog to cat or even indirectly from the soil or contaminated objects such as grooming brushes or furniture.
How do I know if my cat has Dermatophytosis?
Your cat’s coat may initially lack a healthy shine and then sport lesions, circular bald patches or scaly, red, inflamed areas. Or, you may notice dandruff or chin acne. Your veterinarian will need to perform tests to properly identify dermatophytosis because it resembles a host of other skin diseases. Among the necessary tests are biochemical profile, urinalysis, complete blood count, fungal culture and what’s called a Woods lamp exam. This last option involves examining the affected area under an ultraviolet light and looking for the presence of Microsporum canis. A skin biopsy may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
What can I do about Dermatophytosis?
Be prepared to invest time and energy in ridding ringworm not only from your cat, but your home environment as well. If you have more than one pet in the household, they also may need to be treated. You need to follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan closely. Anti-fungal creams and shampoos seem to help reduce ringworm, but the affected area on your cat’s coat will need to be clipped. Your cat’s environment will need to be cleaned using diluted bleach because the spores are hard, and can live for years. The most commonly prescribed drug to fight ringworm is called Griseofulvin. Lufenuron, Ketoconazole and Itraconazole may also be prescribed. Mysteriously, ringworm simply disappears in some cases.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my cat from getting Dermatophytosis?
Keep your cat healthy by feeding a well-balanced diet and scheduling regular physical exams to monitor his health. Cats (and particularly kittens) with weakened immune systems or immune-compromising diseases are at greater risk for suffering from ringworm. Keep your cat from coming into contact with people or pets who have been identified with having this condition.
Are there certain breeds that get more often?
Not really. Longhaired breeds such as Himalayans and Persians are slightly more at risk. Although dermatophytosis can strike any cat of any age or breed, climate plays a factor. Ringworm tends to occur more often in hot, humid climates.