How Does a Cat Get Ringworm? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Ringworm is a common fungal infection that can affect cats. Despite its name, it is not caused by worms but rather by fungi called dermatophytes. In this article, we’ll explore how cats can contract ringworm, the symptoms to look out for, and the available treatment options to help your cat recover from this condition.

Understanding Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm is highly contagious and can spread easily between cats, animals, and humans. It thrives in warm and humid environments, making cats particularly susceptible. The most common types of dermatophytes that cause ringworm in cats are Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes.

How Cats Get Infected with Ringworm

1. Contact with Infected Animals:

Cats can contract ringworm through direct contact with an infected animal, such as through playing, grooming, or sharing bedding and toys.

2. Environmental Contamination:

Ringworm spores can survive in the environment for months. Cats can become infected by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces, such as bedding, furniture, or grooming tools.

3. Spreading from Mother to Kittens:

Kittens can acquire ringworm from their infected mother during nursing or while in close contact.

Symptoms of Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm can manifest differently in cats, but some common symptoms include:

  • Circular Bald Patches: Cats may develop round, hairless patches on their skin, often with a red ring-like appearance.
  • Scaling and Crusting: Affected areas may show scaling, crusting, or flaky skin.
  • Itching and Irritation: Cats with ringworm may experience itching, leading to scratching and further spread of the infection.
  • Broken or Brittle Hair: Infected hair may become fragile, break easily, or fall out in clumps.
  • Inflammation and Redness: The affected skin may appear inflamed, red, or swollen.

It’s important to note that not all cats show visible signs of ringworm, but they can still be carriers and spread the infection to others.

Treatment and Prevention

If you suspect that your cat has ringworm or notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment options may include:

  • Topical Medications: Antifungal creams, ointments, or shampoos can be applied directly to the affected areas to eliminate the infection.
  • Oral Medications: In more severe cases, oral antifungal medications may be prescribed by a veterinarian to combat the infection from within.
  • Environmental Decontamination: Thoroughly clean and disinfect your cat’s living environment, including bedding, toys, grooming tools, and any surfaces that may have come into contact with the fungus.
  • Isolation and Quarantine: Infected cats should be isolated from other animals and humans to prevent further spread of the infection.
  • Preventive Measures: Regularly clean and disinfect your cat’s belongings, practice good hygiene, and avoid contact with infected animals.


Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that can affect cats, but with timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most cats can recover fully. If you suspect ringworm or notice any symptoms in your cat, consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. By taking necessary precautions and maintaining good hygiene practices, you can minimize the risk of ringworm in your cat and promote their overall well-being.

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