cat having a veterinary check up in practice

Ringworm in cats: why and how to protect your cat from ringworm

Ringworm in cats is a common condition, but despite the name and appearance, ringworm isn’t actually a worm. Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects your cat’s skin, and can progress to other areas of the body, such as the claws.

Known medically as dermatophytosis, ringworm is a highly contagious – and usually painless – condition, much like athlete’s foot. Ringworm is spread by direct contact with another cat, animal or person with the condition, or through contact with bedding or bowls used by another infected cat.

Did you know?

Because ringworm isn’t a parasite – unlike roundworm or tapeworm – traditional worming treatments won’t get rid of the condition.

Does my cat have ringworm? Identifying ringworm in cats

Ringworm gets its name from its appearance – raised, circular areas of skin about the size of a 1p coin. Patches most commonly appear on the cat’s head, ears, paws and legs, and can have a worm-like appearance, hence the name. These crusty-looking lesions often lead to patches of hair loss in your cat. 

Did you know?

Ringworm is what’s known as a zoonotic condition, which means it can be passed between cats, other animals, and even humans!

“Despite the name and worm-like appearance, ringworm isn’t actually a worm – it’s a highly contagious fungal infection.” 

Top tips to avoid catching ringworm from your cat

Ringworm can be hard to get rid of, because it’s easily passed back and forth between infected cats and their owners. Follow these top tips for avoiding ringworm: 

  • Thoroughly wash your cat’s bedding and bowls, and keep soft furnishings and carpets clean. 
  • Always wear gloves when treating your cat’s ringworm, and wash your hands thoroughly each time you touch your cat.
  • Dust and hoover your home regularly to remove ringworm spores.
  • Wash clothes, towels and bedding regularly.
  • Don’t let your cat sleep on your bed or sofa while they’re infected.

Ringworm treatment for cats

Ringworm can easily be confused with other skin conditions, so be sure to get a diagnosis from your vet before treating your cat. Ringworm treatment usually involves an antifungal medication or an antifungal shampoo – both of which can help to clear up the condition quickly and effectively. 

Expert advice on ringworm treatments for cats

For expert treatment or advice on ringworm, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.