possible kitten ringworm
November 11, 2014 9:06 PM   Subscribe

I adopted a 10 week old kitten from the aspca on 10/31. He went for a booster shot today and the vet said he might have a touch of ringworm. One of his toes lost a little fur. It has been that way for two days and he was acting normally and I knew he was going to the vet so I let it go. The vet gave me a sulphur-y bath thing and clipped some of his fur to test. They explained to put the collar on him so he can't lick the solution but didn't say to do anything else. Is the bath all I need to do?

The internet seems to say I should be washing everything cloth he's ever touched and keeping him locked in the bathroom and cleaning all other surfaces with diluted bleach. The vet will have the results of the test in 2-3 weeks. I gave him the bath and cleaned the bathroom. He's in the bathroom now with new towels to lay on. I will wash all clothing/bedding/etc tomorrow after work. I cleaned the floor/table/etc with diluted bleach. What else should I be doing? How big of a deal is this? I grew up with cats but now I live alone and he's my first cat I'm fully taking care of and this makes me nervous. Should I be washing my hands every time I touch him? Changing my clothes? I have no other pets. I see people have asked similar questions, but please reassure that he'll be ok.
posted by the twistinside to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
Best answer: I don't think it's really a big deal at all. Give things a wash, but don't go feel like you need to go completely overboard with it. I think that as his immune system gets better (he's still a baby!), his body will do a better job at fighting this kind of thing off. As far as I know, ring worm isn't dangerous, just a bit itchy and uncomfortable.

When I got my first cat, she was a tiny runt of a kitten with cat flu. I was really worried about her. But she got through it all just fine.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 10:55 PM on November 11, 2014

Best answer: I've adopted a couple cats with ring worm. No biggie. We always just use athlete's foot cream. I never washed any bedding or anything. That sulphur bath was done by the rescue that i got one cat from and it made him so sick. He was puking for the first 2 days i had him from licking. He's fat and fine now though.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:48 AM on November 12, 2014

Best answer: Yeah, this isn't like a "ZOMG bedbugs" type of thing. I had the same problem with a tiny baby rescue kitten, and as a matter of fact I did get ringworm on my hand. Cleared up right away with the cream (for both me and the kitten), and never spread, never infected any others in the household. And we never did any of the intense washing.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:38 AM on November 12, 2014

Best answer: I was a volunteer foster parent for orphaned and abandoned kittens from a no-kill shelter/vet clinic. They took an entire litter of kittens back from me and went into Defcon 1 Biohazard!1!!!1!! mode when ringworm was suspected on one of them during a vet visit.

Clinics and shelters go apeshit over ringworm because it can spread so quickly throughout the kitten population and to any humans (especially small humans) who are in contact with the kittens. Shelters will quarantine infected or exposed animals, which isolates them during their maximum cuteness period when they are most likely to be adopted. Some shelters even put down infected animals, which is unfortunate, since it's not a life-threatening disease. It's just a fungal infection, like athlete's foot. It's only a disaster where there are lots of potential infectees.

It will usually go away by itself in a couple of months; the treatment is to speed this up and to prevent it from spreading to other animals and to humans. You live alone and this is your only kitten, so these issues are not as crucial for you.

I did the sulfur-bath treatments for one kitten with no littermates they let me keep, and disinfected his living area. The baths made both of us miserable and I am not convinced they accomplished anything. He was eventually successfully placed in a good home. My own elderly cat (the other susceptible demographic, along with the immune-compromised) never got it, and neither did I.
posted by caryatid at 8:18 AM on November 12, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you! Would you let him sleep wherever or would it be better to keep him in the bathroom overnight?
posted by the twistinside at 6:09 PM on November 12, 2014

Coming in late to nth what everyone else said. Almost every single one of my foster kittens has gotten a tiny patch of ringworm, which clears up with OTC antifungals. If you really want to be certain, the vet can prescribe an oral med, but it has to be compounded for kittens, and is a bit expensive. Once kittens reach about three months, they seem to just become resistant to it on their own.

I've got a resident household of four adults, and as adults, they don't catch the ringworm from the kittens, even if they share bedding. I wouldn't worry about where the kitten sleeps, although it never hurts to wash the bedding for the kitten's favorite sleeping place with hot water and bleach every couple of days until the fungus is cleared up.

As others have posted already, shelters freak out because ringworm is particularly contagious among immune-suppressed populations, and managing an entire shelter with ringworm is a pain *and* it's bad for adoptions. But it's nothing worse than athlete's foot or jock itch, and healthy cats (and humans) don't really need to worry too much. If you get a patch, OTC treatment will work fine. In years of fostering kittens, I've only gotten one small patch on my arm and it cleared up immediately with Tinactin.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 7:13 PM on November 12, 2014

Seconding everyone who described this as not that big a deal, and nothing to panic over. Last year I went though a pretty persistent ringworm outbreak in both my cats and me. I was sick with the flu at the time, so didn't take care of it right away, and then I (or it) turned out to be resistant to the first two topical creams I tried. So it hung around kind of forever - like, months.

I tell you this only to illustrate that even if ringworm really gets its hooks seriously into your cat, or you, it will probably still not be that bad - just an annoyance. I had a rash that wasn't that pretty to look at, and one of my cats had a bald spot, but I never felt like any of us were in danger (vet confirmed this).

Do be on the lookout for hairless patches on your kitty though. They start small. In my case, this turned out to be the most worrisome part, because I slacked on the nail-trimming, and my cat scratched a raw patch right on top of her poor head. Everything healed eventually, nothing got infected, and the hair grew back. But please, please do yourself a favor and keep that cat's nails as blunt as possible if there's even a hint of bare patches. Cat skin is very fragile and easy to rip, and kittens have especially needlelike claws. Sometimes it's hell to clip a cat's nails, but try and find a way. You do not want open wounds getting infected.
posted by jessicapierce at 7:51 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thank you everyone!
posted by the twistinside at 5:57 PM on December 12, 2014

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