Tina and Charlie came to live with us on the 5th of June. At the time there was an outbreak of ringworm in the other housing unit of the shelter, separated through a few doors from where they were. The cats were on medication for it and it was under control. For those who don’t know what ringworm is, it’s not a worm but a fungal infection that causes round patches on the skin. It’s not life-threatening and in a healthy cat it will probably disappear within 3 months anyway. It is contagious and can be passed on from animals to humans. On humans it is very easily treatable with creams.
After collecting the two felines, our first visit was to the vet to get them microchipped and when we mentioned the ringworm in the shelter and the thin hair over Tina and Charlie’s eyes, the vet recommended treating them both preventively with an oral solution, one week on, one week off for 5 weeks. This was well meant, but that medication can cause vomiting and diarrhoea (diarrhea in the USA but it’s the same shit. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
We would also have to restrict them to only the one room in the house for the 5 weeks.
Both cats were already a bit stressed out from being out of their usual surroundings and they were going into a new living environment. It wasn’t even certain that they had ringworm.
At the time Tina was a very nervous cat who didn’t like to be handled. Because of being a bit stressed, she already had some diarrhoea. Administering the medication to her would be a nightmare and would stress her out even more. We decided to wait and see.
They settled in nicely and we got them into a routine of play time and set meals. Charlie was relaxed from the start and Tina slowly got out of her run-and-hide routine and started enjoying the house and the cat trees in our house. She also started to trust us and treat us like family by grooming us. Things were going well.
Four weeks ago I noticed two small, round balding patches on Tina’s head so I knew that at least Tina now had it. She might not even have had it when she came into the house but I volunteered in the shelter a few times and Orla goes there every Sunday. The spores are airborne and we may have carried them back from the shelter.
Anyway, I still didn’t like the thought of the oral solution so I went on-line and did some research. I was looking for topical treatments on the skin. One vet from the USA suggested rubbing apple cider vinegar on and around the spots and using antifungal creams. We had apple cider vinegar in the house so I started straight away rubbing diluted vinegar on and around the area and on Charlie on the thinner hair over his eyes and on his head as well. The idea behind it is that it creates an unfriendly environment for the fungus.
Treating Tina wasn’t always easy. She was a devil for hiding. I soon learned to close the doors to the sitting room and bedroom as there are fewer hiding places in the kitchen and it is very easy to get her when she’s in the hall. She soon learned that I wasn’t going to hurt her and relaxed more during treatment. Charlie was a piece of cake. He didn’t hide at all.
When I looked on-line for what creams to use, it was suggested to use something with Clotrimazole 1% w/w in it. Here in Ireland you can buy Canesten cream over the counter and that contains Clotrimazole 1% w/w. It is used for athlete’s foot and also for baby nappy rash. In the health food shop they sell HNZ gel, which is a gel that has Manuka honey in it. It has antifungal properties and is quite harmless as regards side effects.
As soon as I knew which creams I wanted to use, I got the creams, stopped the vinegar and started applying the Canesten cream on Tina and the HNZ gel on the skin over Charlie’s eyes and on the head as a preventive measure. The Canesten cream looks and feels a bit messy and restricted Tina’s grooming. That’s why I helped her with a fine comb to get the loose hairs out carefully. She enjoyed that and seemed to understand straight away that I was helping her with the grooming. The HNZ gel hardens a bit on the longer hair and looks like hair gel once applied. On the thinner patches over Charlie’s eyes it was easier to rub in and it didn’t seem to bother him.
In the meantime I had ordered antibacterial/antifungal wipes from ZooPlus.ie that can also be used on the more sensitive areas around the eyes and in the ears. The wipes arrived by post a week later. I treated Tina with the Canesten cream three times a day for the first week, then twice a day for the next week-and-a-half. It seemed to have cleared up so I stopped using the cream and started using the wipes to wipe the whole head and in the ears as well with one wipe, ending with the areas that were affected. Then I get a clean wipe and give her a full body rub with that one, including the paws. I do that twice a day. She actually enjoys it. I do the same thing with Charlie. I know that there are probably still spores all over the house, even though we vacuum a lot more and do more intensive cleaning in the house. The spores can live up to 18 months to my knowledge so they might get it again. A lot of cats carry the spores but are never affected. It all depends on their immune system. Our cats are fed well and seem very healthy. So hopefully they will be able to keep it at bay from now on. So far, the topical treatment seems to be working. The patches on her head have cleared up.
I will use the wipes for at least a week. I do realise that the antibacterial working might affect good bacteria as well so I don’t want to be using it all over their body for too long.
Ringworm is quite common on cats. They can pick it up when they go outside, from other cats in a shelter or cat hotel, from humans who’ve been in contact with animals etc. It needs to be treated, but if it can be done with less aggressive on the spot treatment it would be preferable to the aggressive oral solutions and is also cheaper. The oral solution cost about €50 a bottle. Two bottles would be needed to treat both cats, so that’s €100. The Canesten cream is about €8 and the same goes for the HNZ gel. A package with 20 Savic Refresh'r Wipes Sensitive is €2.99. I’m using two wipes for Tina and one for Charlie twice a day, so that’s six wipes a day which is about €7 for a week. The tube of Canesten cream is still not finished after two-and-a-half weeks. The HNZ gel is.
Charlie hasn’t shown any signs of the fungus so far, so fingers crossed.
PS: There is no more ringworm in the shelter.
PS: There is no more ringworm in the shelter.