Can You Get Ringworm From Cats? (House Cat, Kittens, Strays)


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We’re in the midst of a steamy, moist, heat wave and temps in the 90’s are bound to have our skin itching. You’re scratching, the kids are scratching, the cat is scratch….wait! What? The cat is scratching? Why would the cat be scratching when you spent good money on the top flea treatments?

Like any good cat mom or cat dad, you take a closer look and find a disturbing circular patch of baldness. As if you needed one more thing to worry about in 2020, you now suspect the cat has ringworm. So if the cat has ringworm, and everyone in the house has been feeling a little itchy, your next logical question is: Can my cat give us Ringworm?

Can Humans Really Get Ringworm From House Cats or Cats that Only Go Outside Occasionally?

Yes, not only can you get ringworm from cats, felines are thought to be the number 1 suspect of both mysterious ringworm and stubborn ringworm infections. If you’ve got a cat with ringworm, chances are quite high that humans in the home will suffer the same fate.

This article will explore a few things you can do in order to reduce the chances of your cat bringing home ringworm in the first place and what you can do if these hearty fungal spores are already in the home.

Why Cats Are Prone to Getting Ringworm and Bringing it Home

The Nature of Ringworm

The fungus we call ringworm is made up of microscopic spores that can be likened to dust, only much smaller. What do we know about dust? It floats through the air and eventually settles on the lowest level of any given area.

Then, every so often, we have to wipe the dust away with a damp cloth or some other invention that helps dust cling.

The same concept goes for ringworm fungal spores. The spores ride through the air, drifting, settling on whatever it can, usually low bushes, tall grasses, flowering plants, mulch beds, etc.,

Where does kitty like to spend her time?

cats roll around where ringworm spores settle
cats love ringworm hotspots

Low bushes, tall grasses, flowering plants, mulch beds, etc.,

Our cats are attracted to ringworm settlement hotspots and all it takes is a brushing against (or one innocent roll in the mulch) to lift ringworm spores off surfaces and embed them deep into kitty’s amazing fur coat.

With ringworm spores attached, kitty comes home, eats her delicious dinner and then heads off to nestle into her favorite spot: your bed pillow.

Fun Fact: When animal ailments are contagious to humans (and vice-versa), we call the health issue: zoonotic. Pronounced “zoo-NOT-ick” (emphasis is on the NOT).

Ringworm is Zoonotic and Cats and Humans Can Pass it Back and Forth

By now you see that cats can give you ringworm and you have a better understanding of how cats pick up the spores throughout their day of “just being a cat.”

Short of keeping your cat inside forever, let’s go over a couple of things you can do to reduce the chances of kitty bringing home the ringworm spores.

How to Reduce Ringworm Spores From Entering the Home Via Cats

We can never fully control the spread, but there are things we can do to minimize spores from traveling from cat to carpet. For instance:

Make their favorite bushes or outdoor spots intolerable.

If your cat has a favorite spot outside that’s moist and powdery, it could mean fungal spores are lurking. Make the spot uncomfortable either by using a scent or “feel” they cannot stand.

Using Scents: Cats hate the smell of mint and lavender. So, you could try adding these plants to your garden, or making an essential oil spritz.

Using Touch: There is a product I swear by for keeping little animals OUT of places. I bought these to keep my neighbors cats off my porch and it definitely works! You can cut it in strips and put it where you don’t want your cat hanging out and where you suspect fungal spores.

Your cat will absolutely hate the feel of these mats but it doesn’t harm them in any way. Here is a link you can click and check out pricing and availability on amazon: Scat Mat for Cats

Other Ways to Stop Cats From Bringing Home Ringworm

Now you’re about to read a whole bunch of things you don’t want to hear. Unfortunately, it’s kinda like taking off your shoes at the front door. Many people don’t want to do it, but it’s the only way to keep nasty germs from entering.

The best way to reduce ringworm spores from traveling inside the home is to Clean off your cat before she enters.

cat doesn't want to be cleaned of ringworm has funny face

Before allowing your cat to re-enter the home, you’ll have to take some extra steps, especially during high ringworm season. There are 3 ways to clean a cat’s coat: Dusting, Blowing, Vacuuming.

Being a cat owner myself, I know that maybe 1 cat out of 100 will tolerate option 2 or 3. If your cat is that one oddball who enjoys machinery, by all means blowing or vacuuming your cat’s coat will be the most effective way to remove the ringworm spores.

In reality, most people will have to resort to giving their cat a good dusting. Be sure to use a damp cloth and dust in one direction, head to tail, so you avoid embedding the spores deeper into the cat’s coat.

But My Cat Uses a Cat Door

If this is you, then you’ll have to commit to dusting off kitty just as soon as possible. However, we highly recommend a cat door that allows indoor access, but not full access to your entire home.

Cat doors that lead to an entry way or enclosed porch is a happy medium for allowing your cat access to shelter when needed, without bringing ringworm (and other gifts) into your living space. Cat owners with full access cat doors have reported skunks, squirrels, rats, opossums, and other cats inside their home. Think twice!

How to Clean for Ringworm Spores that the Cat Already Dragged In?

When it comes to cleaning and using products that kill ringworm, we devoted an entire article to that topic and you can click here to read it.

But we will touch upon a few things you can do around the home to make your cleaning easier and reduce the spread of ringworm spores by your cat

Wash Up After Petting Kitty

During a known ringworm infection, everyone should stop petting the cat unless wearing gloves. Then, make sure everyone washes their hands with soap and water over a sink with good drainage.

Ringworm spores are pretty tough and can stay behind on surfaces. So you want to lather up and flush them down the drain.

Shower or Bathe Regularly to Stop Spreading Ringworm

When the cat has ringworm, every member of the house should be showering daily. Humans: use soap. Showering is preferred over bathing as it hoses off spores and sends them down the drain.

As for the cat, a special shampoo can be prescribed by the vet or you might turn to an online merchant. Just be sure the product is for CATS and it kills ringworm. Take the time to read reviews.

I’m partial to the Curaseb Line but there are others you can pick from. I just happen to have had personal success with Curaseb. Here is a picture and you can click the pic and check the pricing and availability on amazon.

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Offer Kitty Several Cat Beds

Most cats have a handful of places they like to settle in for a nap. Having cat beds located throughout the home (even on top of your bed) can help contain ringworm spores and make your job of cleaning a lot easier.

Spray the beds regularly with a pet friendly anti-fungal or dust them with baking soda. Vacuum the cat’s beds and launder them regularly.

Conclusion

When the cat has ringworm, it’s a family issue. Ringworm is zoonotic which means it passes between humans and animals with ease.

Your own cat can give you ringworm just as easily as a stray. Ringworm spores do not discriminate! They will pick the best host for peaceful feeding. They make a meal out of keratin which is plentiful on all animal skin (humans included).

Don’t let it be you and your cat!

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