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How to Treat Ringworm in Cats (6 Vet-Approved Tips)

Vet approved

	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Ringworm is a common fungal disease in mammals that can cause extreme discomfort and irritation for cats. You can determine if your cat has ringworm by going to a veterinarian and having them complete a physical exam and any testing needed.

Treating ringworm often consists of a mixture of topical treatment and oral medications. It’s important to completely follow through with treatment to ensure that your cat is completely cured. If you end treatment earlier than the prescribed amount of time, your cat may start showing signs of ringworm again. Ringworm is highly infectious and should be treated thoroughly to avoid other pets and people becoming infected. Here are some tips and tricks for treating a cat with ringworm and helping it recover.

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The 6 Tips For Treating Ringworm in Cats

1. Topical Treatment

Veterinarians will commonly prescribe some sort of topical treatment for ringworm. It can be creams, ointments, or medicated shampoos. Topical treatments are typically used from several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the infection. Make sure to always wash your hands and disinfect any surfaces your cat has touched after you’ve applied the topical treatment.

Some cats may benefit from getting shaved if they have just one or two affected areas on the skin. This can help the ointment get absorbed more effectively. Remember only to shave your cat after you’ve received clearance from your veterinarian.

cleaning cat by shampoo on water bath
Image Credit: angnokever, Shutterstock
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2. Oral Treatment

Cats will also require oral antifungal medication. It’s important to monitor your cat’s condition after it’s taken its medication. If you notice any adverse side effects, notify your veterinarian right away.

Cats typically need to take oral medication for at least 6 weeks. Treatment can exceed this amount of time as cats will respond to medication differently.

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3. Clean Your Living Space

Since ringworm spreads through fungal spores, cleaning up your living space while your cat receives treatment is important. Cats can remain infectious for about 3 weeks after the start of treatment. It’s best to complete one deep cleaning and then maintain cleaning regularly throughout the treatment course. Ask your veterinarian what disinfectant protocol and product to use.

Fungal spores can spread with cat hair, so cleaning up and vacuuming hairs on your floors and furniture is important. After you vacuum, use a disinfectant to kill any live spores.

Woman vacuuming a blue couch
Image Credit: surachet khamsuk,
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4. Quarantine Your Cat

Ringworm can be transferred from cats to humans and vice versa. So, you may need to quarantine your cat if it’s a heavy shedder or if you live with young children or individuals who are immunocompromised. Having a designated room to keep your cat in while it receives treatment can help prevent the spread of the disease.

It’s best if the room isn’t carpeted and doesn’t contain upholstered furniture. Make sure that your cat has everything it needs in the room, including toys, a litter box, and plenty of hiding spaces.

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5. Stay in Touch with Your Veterinarian

Since treatment for ringworm varies from cat to cat, make sure to stay in touch with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat’s receiving proper treatment. It can be helpful to take pictures of the affected areas to track recovery or see if signs have worsened.

If you have pet insurance, check to see if your provider has a pet telehealth line. Some pet insurance companies offer this service, and it can help reassure you between visits to your veterinary care clinic.

Abyssinian cat check by vet
Image Credit: Nataly Mayak, Shutterstock
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6. Work with a Professional Groomer

Some topical treatments require bathing or shaving. If you’re experiencing a particularly difficult time bathing your cat with medicated shampoo, you can try enlisting the help of a professional groomer that has experience working with resistant cats.

Just keep in mind that groomers may not allow infected cats in their facilities due to health and safety concerns. However, some may do house visits or have a mobile grooming station.

yarn ball dividerSigns of Ringworm

Cats may exhibit several different signs of ringworm. The most common sign is circular areas of hair loss with scaling or crusty skin. Your cat’s coat may also be brittle, stubbly, and discolored in affected areas.

Ringworm lesion in cat
Image Credit: Yaya photos, Shutterstock

Your cat’s skin may also be inflamed, and you might see increased dandruff. Cats can also self-groom and lick affected areas excessively. They may also scratch themselves more due to the itchiness. Make sure to check your cat’s claws and nail beds because those areas can also get infected.

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If you suspect a case of ringworm, make sure to take your cat to your veterinarian as soon as possible so that you can start treatment immediately and help your cat fully recover. Ringworm can be a frustrating experience, and treatment requires consistency and vigilance. It’s best to follow through and complete treatment correctly the first time so that it doesn’t reappear and continues to disrupt your daily life with your cat.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock