Ringworm in Cat

by Ina

I adopted a one year old cat that is either a cross or purebred red colorpoint DSH (often called flame point Siamese.) I adopted him from our local humane assn., and since then he has been through an upper respiratory infection for which he took an antibiotic and spent a week of isolation, and now a cat skin fungus above his shoulder which is probably ringworm.

This is my first shelter adoption (others have been no kill and no illness!). I took him to 2 different vets, and the vet for the ringworm said the lesion lit up under the Wood's lamp, and gave me povidone iodine to put on it. He said the cat could be socialized with our other animals (2 dogs, 12 and 16, and a 15 year old cat) after 10 days, but to continue the treatment for 3 weeks.

After 11 days I wonder if it is safe to start socializing him. The lesion does not seem to have white scaly matter any more--it is red, and a bit smaller, but still about twice the size of a dime.

The povidone iodine seemed to be doing very little, so I swabbed the lesion with bleach diluted 5-10 times, rinsing afterward, and continued the povidone iodine, since I know it does not sting and thought it might soothe the lesion.

We have had him for almost 6 weeks, and most of the time he has been isolated due to illness, though he is a sociable cat. My older cat totally freaked out, hissing, growling and peeing when she encountered him in a controlled situation. I am trying to get her to eat her soft food outside his door so she gets used to his smell. The last 2 times I held him so she could look at him, she did not hiss or growl, nor did he.

I am looking for help with 2 issues--determining whether it is okay to let him have some running time in the house, and second, how to help my older cat adjust to him. I have read all the warnings about how contagious ringworm is, but we have vacuumed carefully and isolated him.
Neither my husband nor myself have shown any signs, and this is a dry cold climate right now. Our other animals are fine as well.

Editor Suggestion Ringworm in Cat


You have been doing a great job keeping the new addition to your house separated from your other animals. By doing so, you have probably prevented a ringworm “epidemic” and some serious socialization issues. I’m sure this situation has caused you a lot of headaches but don’t be tempted to make a change too quickly.

First, cats can carry a lot of ringworm fungus on their skin and coat even if they are not showing many (or any) skin lesions. I would recommend you see your vet again for a check-up before you consider stopping your isolation period. He or she can take a look with the black light and may even want to do something called a “toothbrush test.” Basically, you comb through the fur with the tooth brush and then tap the debris into a gel to try to grow the fungus. If no growth occurs, you can safely introduce your new cat into the rest of the house. I would schedule your recheck when it looks like hair is starting to regrow in the bald spot.

The ringworm may have been a bit of a mixed blessing, giving your other cats a chance to get used to the thought of a new addition to the family. You are doing the right thing by encouraging them to smell each other through the closed door. When you get the green light to stop the isolation, I recommend doing so slowly. You could put up some baby gates, one stacked on top of another, so that the cats could see and interact with each other but still be separated. Alternately, you could bring your new cat out into the rest of the home for short visits but leave him in a carrier or some other type of enclosure so that he is not too “threatening.”

Whichever way you choose to go, only when everyone seems totally bored with the new situation should you allow everyone to interact freely.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Apr 01, 2011
Sad ending
by: Ina

Unfortunately I had to put my precious boy up for adoption through a no-kill organization, because my older cat simply couldn't adjust. He did find a great home within 10 minutes of our taking him in to the store where adoptions were being held.

I hope to try again in the summer when I am through with school--maybe my older cat would find a kitten easier to handle.

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