Most cats with ringworm will self-heal over time, according to veterinarians Drs. Foster and Smith. A veterinarian should always examine pets with serious ringworm infections, but home treatment is sufficient for many cats. Prompt treatment is essential to prevent the infection from spreading or worsening.
Home treatment of ringworm in cats begins with treatment of the animal. Most short-haired cats who are otherwise healthy can fight off a ringworm infection with the help of topical creams that contain an antifungal, such as miconazole or thiabendazole. Some longhair cats must be shaved prior to topical treatment so that the medicine can reach the skin and the source of the infection. Sulphur dips can help clear the ringworm in cats, though they can turn the cat's fur yellow. A healthy diet and plenty of fresh water are important to warding off any infection in cats. Some holistic veterinarians recommend supplementing cats' food with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help boost the immune system and fight off the infection.
The fungus that causes ringworm can live in the environment for up to two years, according to Drs. Foster and Smith. Cleaning the environment of a cat with ringworm is extremely important to treating the infection and preventing the fungus from spreading. All animal bedding, cages and grooming tools should be disinfected often until the infection clears. Damp mops are recommended for cleaning hardwood floors and vacuum bags and canisters should be emptied in sealed plastic bags and taken outside immediately after cleaning. Steam cleaning carpets and furniture can also help prevent the infection from spreading.
Most cats have no adverse effects to topical antifungal treatments done at home. Pet owners should follow the directions on lime sulphur dips and topical creams carefully. Using more medication than recommended may actually make the infection worse. Longhair cats that are shaved prior to ringworm treatment are susceptible to irritation. The ringworm infection may spread from contact between the clippers and the lesions. Ringworm infections can spread easily to other pets and humans if the cat is not kept contained during treatment.
Severe ringworm infections may not clear with only home treatment. A veterinarian can prescribe oral antifungal medications to help cure the infection. Itraconazole is the main oral antifungal used to treat severe ringworm infections in cats, though Griseofulvin is also used. Treatment of severe infections usually involves a combination of topical and oral treatments, and a veterinarian may examine the cat at weekly intervals until the infection clears.
Cat owners should use caution when bringing in a new cat or kitten to make sure the new animal is not introducing a ringworm infection into the home. Cats can easily become infected at kennels, shows and grooming facilities if they come into contact with an infected animal. Longhair cat owners should be especially careful about preventing ringworm infections, as it is usually more difficult to treat the condition in these breeds.