Ringworm in Cats: When Are They Cured?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY veterinary expert Arnold Plotnick, DVM, talks about cat ringworm and how to know when your cat's ringworm treatment is successful.

Q: We recently took our new 5-month-old Ragdoll kitten to the vet and found out she had ringworm within 12 hours of acquiring her. The ringworm covers several large areas of her body.

She has not had the run of the house just yet; she’s been confined to one small bathroom for 24 hours. I had duct-taped off the vent and did not allow anyone but my husband and myself into the bathroom. I bought a suit and booties and gloves for touching her. I have bleached the whole bathroom several times now, top to bottom.  

My cat is now outside in a hutch (heated) until we figure out what to do with this situation. My question is this: If after treating her with itraconazole and 8 to12 weeks of lime sulfur dipping and two or three negative fungal cultures, can she still carry and shed the ringworm into the environment? Our vet said she could still be a carrier for life and if we introduced kittens to our home, a new kitten could get the ringworm.

Can we keep her outside in a heated environment where everything can be destroyed after this is all done rather than keeping her inside in a closed room?  

A: You’re treating your cat as if she has the Ebola virus. Ringworm is a nuisance, but it’s not the end of the world. Ragdolls are longhaired cats, and having them shaved prior to starting the anti-fungal baths might help the condition resolve more quickly.
Several drugs are effective against ringworm; itraconazole is a very good one. If, after several weeks of oral itraconazole and anti-fungal medicated baths, your cat tests negative on three consecutive cultures, your cat is generally considered to be cured. Isolating her in one room is helpful in containing the spread, but I think keeping her outdoors in a heated enclosure is a bit extreme.

Cats can sometimes be “inapparent carriers”, i.e. they can have ringworm spores on their hair coat, but not have any outward signs of ringworm.  These cats can be a source of infection for other cats in the environment. Cats can become reinfected from hairs that may have fallen into the environment, or from another cat who may have an apparent (or inapparent) infection, but they do not remain “carriers for life” once the infection is successfully treated.  

If you do want to get another kitten later on, do not get one from this same breeder, as it’s clear that she has ringworm in her cattery. (I hope she’s taking some responsibility for your current situation; it’s obvious that your cat arrived already infected.)

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Cats · Lifestyle