You recently suspected that your litter of kittens (or kitten) has some type of skin infection but not sure what the infection is about. One of the many reasons for infection in cats is ringworms. This guide discusses ringworms in kittens, the cause, symptoms and of course, treatment.
First off, what is ringworm? Contrary to the name, it’s not a worm. Let us take a more in-depth look. Ringworms are fungal infections that affect the skin, fur, and nails of cats. It can prove deadly to kittens if not well-treated. Before you begin to panic, ringworms are highly treatable but might take weeks for the treatment to be complete.
It should interest you to know that ringworms are very contagious, even to humans. Older people and young children are highly susceptible because of their low resistance to diseases. That being said, if you have infected kittens, avoid having physical contact with them. I know it can be hard but it’s necessary. Other animals like dogs can also contract ringworms if they come in close contact with infected kittens. The same goes for any other animal.
How do kittens get ringworms?
Like I stated earlier, ringworms are caused by fungi. They are scientifically called dermatophytosis. They can be found everywhere in the home or outdoors, like in moist blankets and so on. Because kittens are highly susceptible to these fungi, they easily contract the infection.
Kittens can also get this infection from another infected animal who may or may not show signs of ringworm. Whenever cats are infected, they shed large amounts of fungal spores. So if your kitten has ringworms, chances are, it got it from another cat or kitten. Once the kitten comes in contact with any surface that has these fungal spores, it is at risk of infection.
Signs your kitten has ringworms
The next question you might ask is, how do I tell if my kitten has ringworms. Well, you might not know right away. Other skin infections look similar to ringworms such as flea allergy, so it’s best to involve an expert. After carrying out some tests, your veterinarian will be able to tell specifically if the infection is ringworm.
However, there are some signs you should watch out for.
Usually, kittens with ringworms begin to lose their hairs. When you check where the hairs should be and you see a red patch or dry patch, then it might be ringworms. Check their nails too, if they are coming off, then start planning a visit to the vet clinic. Some infected cats don’t show any obvious symptoms, and some may look healthier than they really are.
The best way to confirm the ringworm suspicion is to carry out culture tests. The skin of the kitten is scrapped and then tested in a culture solution. Your vet will handle that. You can also use a special ultraviolet torch to check your pet’s skin. Many cases on ringworm will glow when the light is directed at it. You can check out this UV torch called GlowMax which illuminates various types of skin infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other fungal infections.
Help, my kitten has ringworms
Having ringworms is not a death sentence, be calm. Now that your kitten has been diagnosed correctly let’s move on to the treatment. Put at the back of your mind that treatment for ringworms can take weeks or months in severe cases. The veterinarian will give his prescription for treatments depending on each case, cat specie and severity of the ringworms.
Usually, treatments come in four stages:
- Quarantine and sanitizing
- Medicated dip or bath
- Topical ointment
- Oral medication
Remedies for Treating Ringworms in kittens
At every stage of treatment, make sure to carry your vet along. Do not stop the prescribed treatment unless directed to do so by the veterinarian. The first stage of treatment is quarantine and sanitizing. All infected kittens (and animals) should be isolated to curb the spread of the infection to humans or other animals. The rest of your house must be thoroughly sanitized to kill any fungal spore lurking around.
The next stage is the medicated bath or dip. A perfect product is Davis Lime Sulfur Dip. This medicated dip helps to kill the fungi-causing ringworm on the skin. Pour the lime-sulfur solution in a container and carefully immerse your kitten(s) into it. Be careful not to let the solution go into their eyes. The best way is to omit the head and dip the rest of the body into the solution. Then using a cotton bud, apply the solution to the rest of the face. Let the solution dry on the body; don’t wipe them dry.
Topical ointments follow after the medicated dip. Rub the prescribed cream on the infected areas. You know cats can’t help but lick their bodies, so you should reapply as often as you can. There are a lot of anti-fungal ointments and creams available in stores and online. Anti-fungal shampoos are also of great benefit. Many manufacturers make the full kit of shampoos, creams and ointments to combat ringworm.
Lastly, we have oral medication. As we fight the exterior, we should focus on the interior too. Oral medications help to fight the fungus from the inside. There are a lot of anti-fungal drugs available in stores that help fight dermatophytes effectively. It’s normally advised that the kitten takes the oral medication for a minimum of six weeks. Although your vet will give you a more precise prescription. Here are some common medications:
It is found to be the most effective drug for cats. It is also a very common drug for treating ringworms in cats.
This is one drug that has been around for a long time. It is also effective but probably not as effective as Itraconazole.
There are other anti-fungal drugs that have been used to treat ringworms successfully, like terbinafine and fluconazole. However, they were not as effective as Itraconazole in most cases.
Always work on keeping your space fungus free. Sanitize your environment. Prevention is always cheaper and less stressful than cure, especially if your kittens have ringworms. Disinfect all surfaces with bleach. The ratio advised is one part of bleach to about 30 parts of water. That will do the trick and kill all fungi on the surface.
You should also watch where your kittens go. As much as possible, try to limit their contact with other animals outside your home. In the unfortunate incident that your kittens have ringworms, take them to the vet and then sanitize your house. Remember to watch your health as you nurse your infected kittens. For more information about how to care for your kittens during treatment, you can check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0-11kPQHqA