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

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

scottish fold cat checked by vet

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


Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo


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 discomfort and irritation in 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 follow through with the treatment to ensure that your cat is completely cured. If you end the treatment earlier than the prescribed duration, your cat may start showing signs of ringworm again. Ringworm is highly infectious and should be treated thoroughly to prevent infecting other pets and people. Here are some tips and tricks for treating a cat with ringworm and helping them recover.

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The 6 Tips For Treating Ringworm in Cats

1. Topical Treatment

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

Some cats 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

2. Oral Treatment

Cats will also require oral antifungal medication. It’s essential to monitor your cat’s condition after they’ve taken the medication. If you notice adverse side effects, notify your veterinarian right away.

Cats typically need to take oral medication for at least 6 weeks. The treatment can exceed this amount of time since some cats respond to medication differently.

3. Clean Your Living Space

Since ringworm spreads through fungal spores, it’s important to clean up your living space while your cat receives treatment. Cats can remain infectious for about 3 weeks after the start of treatment. It’s best to complete one deep cleaning and maintain cleaning regularly throughout the treatment course. Ask your veterinarian which 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 crucial. After you vacuum, use a disinfectant to kill the live spores.

Woman vacuuming a blue couch
Image Credit: surachet khamsuk,

4. Quarantine Your Cat

Ringworms can be transferred from cats to humans and vice versa. So, you may need to quarantine your cat if they’re a heavy shedder or if you live with young children or immunocompromised individuals. Having a designated room to keep your cat in while they receive the treatment can prevent the spread of the disease.

It’s best if the room isn’t carpeted and doesn’t have upholstered furniture. Ensure your cat has everything they need in the room, including toys, a litter box, and plenty of hiding spaces.

5. Stay in Touch with Your Veterinarian

Since the treatment for ringworm varies from cat to cat, stay in touch with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat is recovering. Taking pictures of the affected areas to track the recovery or see if the signs have worsened can be helpful.

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

Abyssinian cat check by vet
Image Credit: Nataly Mayak, Shutterstock

6. Work with a Professional Groomer

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

Remember 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 can exhibit several signs of ringworm. The most common sign is circular areas of hair loss with scaling or crusty skin. Your cat’s coat may 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. Due to the itchiness, they may scratch themselves more. It’s best to check your cat’s claws and nail beds because they can also get infected.

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If you suspect a case of ringworm, 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 the treatment requires consistency and vigilance. It’s best to follow through and complete the treatment correctly the first time so it doesn’t reappear.

Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

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