Cat Wing Open – Lessons in Ringworm 101
What is ringworm and why are you closing? Ringworm is actually a fungus, not a worm, and is technically referred to as dermatophytosis. It is known as ringworm because it commonly appears as a circular area of hair loss and scaly skin, though it can take many shapes. The reasons that we are closing the cat wing- and not adopting out cats right now- are twofold: We want you to take home healthy animals and ringworm is “zoonotic,” meaning that it can be caught by other species, including humans, so we want to keep the community healthy.
How long will the cats be unavailable? The incubation time, or the time between an animal being exposed and developing symptoms, can be up to four weeks, so making sure that everyone is fungus-free will take some time. Every cat will have a culture taken (it’s a simple procedure in which we brush them with a tooth brush and then put the hairs and skin flakes on a little dish filled with a substance that reacts to ringworm spores). The cultures take several days to show themselves as positive or negative, so this will be a bit of a lengthy process.
What happens to the infected cats? Every cat who has a positive culture or has a lesion (an area that is infected with ringworm) is taken to our isolation area and treated. The treatment involves twice weekly dips in an anti-fungal solution. They may be a little itchy, but otherwise won’t be bothered by their infection. Treatment takes some time, but once they have three negative cultures, and have been thoroughly examined by our veterinarian, they will once again be available for adoption and be able to safely be welcomed into homes with other animals and children.
How did they get ringworm? Ringworm is very durable in the environment and can be contracted from exposure to rodent nests, contaminated soil, and infected animals. Carpet, dust, furniture, and other contaminated items can be a source of infection and people can also spread it from one place to another (or one animal to another).
What about the dogs and zoo animals? We are taking every precaution to keep this contained. Anyone who is working with the cats wears protective gear (which is immediately washed or thrown out) and does not enter other animal areas or interact with other animals. No signs of ringworm have been found on the dogs or zoo animals, so we are keeping those areas open.
How can I help? We appreciate your patience during this time and will have things back to normal as quickly as possible. If you’d like to help, we need foster homes for new arrivals, both kittens and adults, so that they have a zero chance of exposure. We would also appreciate donations of XL shoe covers, surgical bonnets, surgical gowns (disposable or non), towels, disposable litter boxes, and help to pay for the cultures and medication.
What if I find a stray or need to surrender my cat? If you’ve found a cat, please call us and let us know. We may have already received a call from the owner and can help you reunite them. If you are able to foster the cat for a little while, that would be great. If not, we do have a clean intake area where we can house them. If you need to surrender your cat and are able to wait a few weeks, please do so. If you cannot wait, we do have that clean intake area, but space is limited. Please call us and let us know that you are looking for a home for your cat and we’ll do whatever we can to help!
Thank you for your support!