Despite what the name suggests, ringworm is a fungal infection rather than a parasite. It can affect humans and most domesticated animals, including the domestic cat. While the condition is not always serious, it can significantly impact your cat's quality of life and will take a long time to go away on its own. As such, it makes sense to bring your cat to the vet without delay if you think they may have ringworm.
With that in mind, here are just five common warning signs.
1. Hair Loss
When ringworm spores infect the shafts of your cat's hair, the infected hairs become weak and brittle. This means they will come away from the skin and leave bald patches. These patches of hair loss are commonly circular, and they are most often seen on the head, chest, front legs and along the back. Even if hair doesn't come away by itself, it is often easily removed with light pressure, so you may notice more hair than usual coming away as you pet or groom your cat.
2. Unhealthy Coat
Ringworm can affect a cat's hair without causing noticeable bald patches. In some cases, you will instead notice that your cat's coat appears damaged. Instead of appearing healthy and shiny, it may suddenly seem dull, rough or discoloured. This often occurs before hair starts to fall out, so it may be the first sign that something is wrong.
3. Skin Lesions
Skin lesions are likely to be found in the same areas where hair is lost. In humans, ringworm usually causes a ring-shaped lesion, but this isn't the case with cats. Lesions of any shape can develop, and the skin will often appear crusty, dry or scaley. Since skin tends to flake away as it dries out, lesions tend to be accompanied by excessive dandruff.
4. Excessive Localized Grooming
Skin lesions caused by ringworm don't tend to be itchy at first, but itchiness usually develops as the skin becomes drier and the bacterial infection grows worse. When this happens, your cat may start to lick or scratch one area obsessively.
5. Infected Nails
Ringworm can sometimes target a cat's nails and nail beds. This often happens when they begin to scratch at skin lesions and transfer the infection to their claws. If your cat's claws seem brittle, rough or pitted, especially with scaly skin at the base, ringworm may be the culprit.
To learn more, speak to a vet today.