Ringworm in Cats | VCA Animal Hospital
Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil is a popular home remedy for fungal infections of the skin, such as tinea pedis (athlete's foot) in humans. Products applied to the skin containing tea tree oil are commercially available for treating ringworm in cats, and there are anecdotal reports that this treatment is effective. However, essential oils (including tea tree oil) can be extremely toxic to cats, especially those with other health problems (such as nerve disorders). There have been several reports of fatal poisonings with undiluted tea tree oil in otherwise healthy cats. Some manufacturers claim that topical treatments, such as shampoos, are safe for use in cats if they contain no more than 1% tea tree oil. Some experts warn that even this concentration may be toxic to cats. Therefore, pet products containing tea tree oil (or any herbal extracts) should be used cautiously in cats. A veterinarian should be contacted immediately if the cat shows signs of unusual behavior or poor health.
Treated cats will usually begin to improve within two to four weeks, although for full recovery to take place the treatments must be administered for as long a period as your veterinarian has instructed. After the treatments begin to work, the skin will usually clear up and the hair will often begin to regrow. In environments such as animal shelters, especially kitten rescues, it can be very difficult to completely rid the environment and feline population of fungal spores. In these environments, and with cats that have shown a susceptibility to repeated infection, pet owners and shelter workers will need to be intentional about keeping the environment sterile, washing their hands and clothes often, and routinely checking the cat(s) for signs of ringworm infection. Most treated cats that live in a typical home environment will make a full recovery.
Fifty-three days later, Morel graduated from the program, a sleek, happy cat who was shortly adopted by his forever family. And all cats currently being treated for ringworm at the shelter have graduated, too - from the vintage trailer that housed the program until last year into the Maddie's FIT (Felines In Treatment) Center, a brand-new structure featuring exam rooms, a dermatology lab, two kitchens, a laundry and dip rooms.The average length of treatment is around five weeks, with kittens housed with their littermates taking the longest. Cats who test positive for ringworm but have very little growth on the culture and no symptoms of the condition on physical examination are sometimes re-cultured, given a preventive dip, and then put up for adoption."The original program arose in response to a very passionate group of volunteers that wanted to be able to at least try and treat ringworm positive cats, because they had seen a number euthanized for no reason but ringworm," Rodgers said. "Without that core group of volunteers willing to take on daily care and the not-so-pleasant task of dipping cats and making sure they made it through treatment okay, the program would never have gotten off the ground."The university is continuing to compile data and consider future studies, she said. "They keep learning things from our experiences. We have a steady supply of ringworm cats and if we can come up with faster and less intensive treatment regimens that work, we'd be glad to share that with everyone."Ringworm and URIs aren't the only things being addressed while the cats are in treatment. "Managing stress levels in cats is difficult in any shelter environment, but it's particularly challenging with ringworm cats," Rodgers said. "Because the cats can't be housed in community settings or allowed to run around on the facility floor, one of the challenges we face is making sure they get enough stimulation and good experiences to outweigh the negative aspects of treatment."Try to minimize the contact with the infected kittens or cats. Teach children to wash hands immediately after petting the animals. If the kitten is already undergoing treatment for ringworm, it is best to keep it away from the home- preferably in the garage or shed if you have one.