Ringworm, Mange and Skin Problems in Kittens

Ringworm, Baldness and Mange in Cats & Kittens

Ringworm is a fungus that infects the skin and hair in cats. Highly contagious, Ringworm leads to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. Mange is a skin condition affecting cats caused by mites.

Ringworm and Cats

Hi Simba, I bought a purebred Ragdoll kitten
recently. After I integrated her with my 15-month-old domestic short hair cat, I found out she had ringworm (isolated on her tail). She also has a horrible upper respiratory infection. The vet has me treating the ringworm with Nolvasan solution. The ringworm then spread to my other cat's ears. The vet then told me to keep using the solution and to use Miconazole Nitrate 2% cream as well.

Since I have been treating both cats with both treatments I notice just a couple of little dry, crusty areas on the kitten's tail. However, my cat's ears look awful! It started with the ears, but now the skin is peeling and one ear in particular has a round purple area and again, just looks awful.Is this the normal progress of ringworm? I know I have to treat the affected areas for a month (I am at the end of week 1).
I just need to know if it is supposed to look worse before it gets better and how I can tell when it is getting better. I am trying to look to see if it has spread and so far see nothing. Should I be going to the vet regularly to get them re checked or am I paranoid? Lynn

Pets'BestRx PBPK031 Ringworm Pack for Small Breed Cats
Dear Lynn,
You ask good questions. The areas of hair loss will get larger before they begin to get smaller. Also, remember that ringworm symptoms include scaling skin and redness in the area. However, hair loss should stop at 2 weeks of your having started their treatment. At that point there should be no new areas of hair loss, and the crusty appearance of the skin should subside making the skin look normal again. If any of these do not occur within two weeks, take the little guys to the vet.

As for the purple area, watch out for ear mites if it appears to be gooky-like substance.

Lastly, I do not think that you would be paranoid if you have your vet check your little ones every few weeks until the ringworm goes away. - Simba

Thanks Simba for your response! My adult cat's ears are much better. Unfortunately my ragdoll kitten is not improving yet, and in fact, it has spread a little. I did take them to the vet. The kitten is still being treated with the Nolvosson solution and is now getting Miconazole baths 2x per week. This is a real pain, but this little kitten is worth it. Thanks again for responding. Lynn ---- Thx for the update. Simba

Dear Simba:
I have a 10-year-old female black domestic short-hair named Cassie. She is a bit overweight Today, I noticed that at the base of her tail, on her back, there is a bald patch, about 2 1/2 inches long, 1 inch wide, diamond shaped. There is some flaky skin (like dandruff) and a few freckle-like blotches. It does not appear to cause her pain...however, if I pet her back there, she turns her head toward her rear and licks her nose!

Her eating, sleeping and litter habits appear to be normal, and my other cat (1-year-old female calico, currently in heat!) is unaffected.

What do you think? Ginger

Dear Ginger,
The first thing I would want to rule out is ringworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes patchy hair loss along with flaky skin. The only way to determine whether Cassie has ringworm is to have your vet perform a culture for it. Once a diagnosis has been made, your vet can begin treatment which consists of topical baths. Because ringworm can be passed on to people you may want to isolate Cassie until you can be sure she is in the clear.

Check out the letters below for tips on ridding your your home of ringworm. Another thing you may look out for are mange since this is another common cause of skin loss. Your Pal,Simba

Reader Note:
Dear Simba, A quick note for Ginger. My cat (when I lived in the UK) had a similar problem, and the vet advised that sometimes female cats can get a hormone imbalance which causes just the sort of problem the lady below describes. He prescribed some hormone balancing pills and within seven days all was better and we have not had another problem. Hope this info is helpful to Ginger. Cheers, Mary.

I am at a loss. I have a 4-year-old cat. I have had her 1 year with no problems. She has developed an eye problem...not in her eyes but on the skin around her eyes. At first it looked like a cut above both eyes but it was not from a fight because she has not gone outside. Now the skin around both eyes is very crusty and she is losing fur.

She was checked for mites and had a negative result. They gave her an antibiotic, but it seems to only have helped a little. The only thing different around the house was that she made her new sleeping place under an indoor tree we bought.

Could she have had an allergic reaction? I have two other cats and they have not developed this problem. It does not seem to be bothering her it just looks awful. Melissa

Dear Melissa,
It is possible that your cat may have an allergy, although there are other possible causes. One thing to consider is Ringworm, which can be similar to many other skin problems, but does come with scaling or scabbiness, too. Have your cat checked for Ringworm and test her immune system if possible, since immune disease is a big cause of skin problems. Keep me posted. Simba

Dear Simba
My little boy kitty has been diagnosed with ringworm...we are now using an antibacterial wash. We noticed that one of the females has a patch just like the one the boy has. Is there something we can also use on our carpets to get rid of the potential flea problem and this? The kitties have been inside since they were just hours old and will not be going outside; nor do we allow the adults out.

We do have "visiting" outside cats, one of which is a sister of the momma of the 3 kittens and the "daddy" is now coming around too. Could he/they have given the kittens the ringworm just by being on the outside of our screen door? Jane

Dear Jane,
Good to hear that the kitten is in treatment! As for causes of infection, yes, the screen door may have been one of the ways both fleas and ringworm were transmitted. Because Ringworm is a fungal infection, it could have been transmitted via the screen door. This scenario is more plausible when you consider that the visiting cats may have rubbed against the screen door and your cats may have responded in kind. It is also possible that momma was infected prior to her joining you (the ringworm spores can live for 18 months in cat hair!)

Getting rid of the ringworm contamination will require you to use disinfectants and anti-fungal cleaning materials to thoroughly clean all areas. This includes carpets, furniture, bedding, toys, the screen and even air vents.

Your carpet needs to be vacuumed at least once weekly (discard the bag after each use). Also, steam-cleaning will not eliminate fungi unless it is combined with an antifungal disinfectant like chlorhexidine or chlorine bleach. All heating and cooling vents should be vacuumed and disinfected. Their toys are likely to be infected as well. If you do not want to replace all of their toys, soak them in a bleach solution to remove any fungal remnants (be sure to rinse off and dry to remove all bleach before you return these to the cats).

Your cats will need to be treated by the vet. Expect to experience some frustration and a couple of setbacks because ringworm is tough to eradicate. Also, be aware that ringworm can be transmitted to people. Best thing to do is act quickly and decisively. Amazon.com sells ringworm cleaners. You might want to check out SynergyLabs Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Spray.

As always your vet will offer the best advice on what to use. Your Pal, Simba

What does my Kitten's itching mean?

Hello Simba,
My 5-month-old kitten has a s habit which seems to be getting more and more frequent. He licks and/or gnaws at the end of his tail until it is soaking wet. he is not cleaning it because he does not lick it like when he is cleaning the rest of his body. How can we make him stop this? - Kate

Dear Kate,
It seems like your kitten might responding to either a strong itch or other type of skin irritation in his tail area. Ringworm is a skin problem that is common among cats and often manifests itself at the base of the tail (see below for information on ringworm).

It is also possible that your kitten has fleas or mites.

Your best bet is to have a general vet or a veterinary dermatologist check him out. It is also possible that your kitten has a compulsive obsessive disorder that leads him to chew/lick excessively. This is less likely but is another possibility. Keep me posted.

Dear Simba,
I have a Ragdoll kitten that i have had since January. He is now 4-months-old. About a week after I got him he started itching a lot, but with no hair loss. Had the vet check him out. He did a fungi exam that came out negative. At about the same time I developed mosquito like bites on my skin. I have another cat that is 14 and he has been itching also. They do not have fleas. What could this be? Especially given the test results. They do not have any bald spots. HELP! Max

Dear Max,
I would not rule out Fleas. Veterinary dermatologists have looked at flea allergy in cats and have found that some cats are so good at catching and removing fleas on their bodies that the critters do not show up during exams. Flea-allergic cats can experience a prolonged outbreak of itching after only one or two bites. This may have impacted your other cat as well.

Another possibility is a bacterial infection (pyoderma). Bacterial infections cause itching and can lead to rashes, sores and other skin lesions. Your best bet is to go to the vet and have your kitties checked out for bacterial infections.

You may also ask your vet about flea treatment given that their absence on the body does not always mean they are not affecting your cat.

Be sure also to thoroughly clean all possible affected areas with an anti-enzyme or anti-bacterial cleaner so as to remove any organisms that may be affecting your kitties. Keep me posted Simba

Mites and Mange in Kittens

Dear Simba -
I have two cats that are 8-months-old and one of them has mites. I took him to the vet and they did a scraping and the results showed that it was mites. Well my dermatologist suggested that I have him checked out because I started developing small welt like spots that itched badly.

We have had this problem for about 10 weeks(!). I have given my cat shots and medicated baths, but I am still breaking out with these mite bites. It is driving me crazy with all of the itching. What I can do to get rid of them from my house, from biting me, and from my cat? That vet said that as soon as he gets rid of them, then I should, but it has been over 2 months…I am absolutely miserable. Can you help please?

I suspect that you and your kitty may have sarcoptic mange. The sarcoptic mange mite is contagious to humans. Because the mites cannot reproduce/live in human skin they usually die off, they can come back through re-infection from your kitty. You can reduce the risk of re-infection if you attack this mite problem on its fronts, the host and the environment.

So what to do? I recommend that you have the cats treated for the mites and kept in a pen for a couple of days, while you thoroughly decontaminate your home. Clean (with bleach if possible) all linen and items that you and your cats come in contact with. Also, thoroughly vacuum your home with a anti-parasitic or anti-bacterial strength carpet cleaner. Also, have your kitties tested for immune system diseases as these are often underlying causes of mites. Keep me posted. Simba< /div>
Hi Simba,
My name is Amy. One of our cats gave birth to 3 female kitten this past may, and lately two out of the three are losing fur. One is slowly going bald on her hind legs, lower belly, right in front of her tail, and the lower part of her tail. The other is developing a "stripe" up her back of baldness, starting right at the base of her tail. this one seems to have what I think are scabs where she is going bald. She is also developing a bald spot on her left shoulder blade. i cant figure out what is wrong with them. It is only these two cats that are being affected, and all of my cats have had a recent flea bath. I hope you can help my and my kitties. Thanks, Amy.

Dear Amy,
Hair loss can be caused by anything from parasites like Fleas mites or allergies, hormonal problems, phemphigus (immune system related skin disorder), food allergies, ringworm, bacterial skin infections and many other diseases.

Because your kittens have had a flea bath, it is quite possible that they may be suffering from a mange mite infection. Mange symptoms may include itching, scabbiness or crustiness and loss of fur, among other symptoms. Your best bet is to go to your vet and get the kitties on a treatment plan. Also, if they have not already been tested or vaccinated have those procedures performed because mite infections can at times be associated with feline leukemia or FIV. Get well. Simba

Baldness in Cats

Dear Simba-
Thanks for this wonderful website. I got a 3-year-old neutered and de-clawed male Tabby in December. He had an upper-respiratory infection so I took him to the vet, and had a Feline Leukemia test done. It was negative. The vet noticed the bald patch, which at that time had a small cut or cuts, and told me to keep an eye on it for ringworm, but it looked like something from a fight (new scar). The cut has been healed and now the skin is unbroken, smooth and healthy. There are no signs of crustiness as with ringworm or mites. There is no itching, and the cat seems oblivious to it. She is an indoor cat and I had not noticed the bald patch until a 1-2 months ago. I do not want to take him to the vet or do any procedures unless I have to…he hates medicine and being messed around with. Patty

Dear Patty,
If the skin looks healthy and you have not had prior episodes of fleas or other parasites in your home you are probably ok. Cats tend to chew on and lick their wounds . It is likely that your Tabby cleaned his cuts very well and removed the adjoining fur in the process. Continue to keep an eye on it for any redness, scabbing, and expansion of the baldness among other signs of skin problems and go to your vet if you notice those symptoms appearing. Your tabby is probably ok and the hair should grow back soon enough. Keep me posted. Simba

Sensitive Skin

Dear Simba,
I took my 2-year-old cat, Halle, to the vet because she is been Twitching the hair on her back and licking furiously at it. She then freaks out and runs around the apartment. The vet diagnosed her with hyper-aesthesia and gave her a shot of Depomedrol. My question is what can I do to ease Her discomfort in a holistic way? Also, what is Depomedroland how does it work?, Ellen

Dear Ellen,
As you know, aesthesia, means to the ability to feel or perceive. It seems as though your vet diagnosed Halle as having sensitive skin. Depomedrol, is a long acting epidural steroid given to both people and animals to reduce swelling and inflammation around nerves. This is helpful for extremely itchy cats. As for what you can do, your best bet is to treat your cat's skin with a good diet. See in Alternative Care for good nutritional tips. However, given how difficult these are to diagnose, I would not rule out other causes, including fleas, mites or ringworm. Keep me posted. Simba

Alternative Care

Dear Simba,
My new cat has scabs on her skin, on her back where her tail begins. The skin around the scabs is not red or irritated, nor is she losing any hair or displaying patchy hair loss. I did feel her back and the skin under the fur is scabby. I have given her a bath using a flea shampoo. What could the scabs possibly be from? I was told they might come from fleas having laid eggs. I am worried about using too many artificial & chemicals to treat a skin disorder? Are there any homeopathic or natural steps that I could take? Are there over-the-counter shampoos that I can buy? Or would you recommend taking Lily to the vet? I do not have a lot of money to take her to a vet so I am looking for other alternatives. Filipina & Lily

Dear Filipina & Lily,
Because I suspect that ringworm or mites may be at play here, I am inclined to recommend a vet visit. That does not mean there are no things you can do to help your cat out. Nutrition & skin care are very closely related and the use of the right products can strengthen your cat's immune system and skin health by ensuring the ingestion of the necessary nutrients. Oils are amongst the most important things leading to healthy skin, particularly Fish body oils (not cod liver oil) and flax seed oils that contain essential fatty acids. A product you may want to look for is The Missing Link Feline Formula. Cleaning is another step. Shampoo out the dirt and dead skin. Try using a gentle sprays and shampoos like Pet Head De Shed Me!! Deshedding Shampoo for Cats or AvoDerm Natural Skin and Coat Formula Shampoo.
You can also obtain these nutrients through special cat foods. Science Diet has some foods available that are formulated to help cats with skin problems. Best of luck. Keep me posted. Simba

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