Ringworm a bothersome and contagious condition for animals and people. Symptoms can vary slightly among individual cats, and they are usually different from symptoms in humans. Cat owners should be aware of these symptoms; treating ringworm early means the condition will be easier to cure.
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Ringworm is a type of fungus--not an actual worm. It causes itchy circular rashes on people or animals. The infection is rarely serious, although scratching the rashes may cause other infections. Cats may get it from infected soil, from other cats, from people or from any object that contains the spores.
Most (but not all) cats with ringworm experience small patches of hair loss. The patches are usually circular and they may grow, causing extensive hair loss in bad cases. The skin usually reddens in the infected areas, but not always. Ringworm may look similar to hot spots, which are caused by allergic reactions. A veterinarian can test the area to determine the cause.
Circular sores can also be feline ringworm symptoms. These sores usually look different than the rings that appear on people with the infection. In cats, they look more like circular scabs with little or no appearance of an outer (raised) ring.
Since symptoms of hair loss and sores can also be caused by allergies, mites or fleas, you'll need to bring the cat in to your vet for a diagnosis. If the vet diagnoses the cat with ringworm, she will probably recommend a topical ointment or cream to put on the infected areas.
Ringworm is contagious. You can give it to your cat and your cat can give it to you or other cats in the home. Furthermore, it can live in soil and in the home environment for a long time. Clean the home well, especially the cat's living areas. Peteducation.com recommends using a bleach solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water for all hard surfaces. Make sure all treated surfaces are dry before allowing your cat to walk on them.
Cats with diabetes and other health problems are more susceptible to developing ringworm. This is because these cats cannot fight off infection as easily. Ringworm doesn't always mean a cat has other problems; however blood tests and other diagnostic tests may be in order--particularly if the cat experiences weight loss or other symptoms of illness.
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