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Might be getting a ringworm infected cat...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
The shelter where I volunteer has been having horrible problems with ringworm. They've finally figured out how to stop the epidemic, though. Part of the solution was to move all of the infected cats out of the shelter. Unfortunately, the only place to put them was one of the owner's barns. (I still say it's better than euthanizing them.)

Well, my favourite cat was moved there around late December. I had expressed intrest in taking him home to foster (okay, keep) because I miss him so much. He's such a wonderful cat I don't want something happening to him. A few cats have been killed by cars, and I found out that he's taken to wandering during the day, and is at a huge risk himself.

Well, he's been moved to medical quarenteen at the shelter, because word got to the ladies in charge that I want to do something to keep him safe. They've given him a once-over, and he looks clear. But there's only one way to know for sure, and that is to culture him - which takes 4 weeks. They're trying to figure out what they can do with him instead of sending him back to tha barn for that time. The only room they can keep him in at the shelter already contains former ringworm cats that are in quarenteen, and have been for two weeks. If they introduce him to that room, either the other cats might get it, or he himself could. They're going to sit down with the vets next week and figure out if he can stay there or not.

Now, if he can't stay there, I want to bring him to my house. They'll bath him with Malaseb first, and he'll be kept in my spare room for a month. After that I'll be able to foster him for a few weeks to see if he'll work out with my current boys. Hopefully I'll be able to keep him.

My concern is the three I have now. L.S. is only 9 months old - technically a kitten. Hans has arthritis - which is a disease of the immune system, and is 14 years old. And I'm suspicious about Merlin having a compromised immune system - he's had bad gingivitis even at 2 years old, and has had two ear infections (which are rare in cats). Not exactly the ideally healthy bunch to potentially introduce ringworm to. I had ringworm myself a few months ago, and by being careful they never got it, though.

I'm thinking that by being careful with the new cat, giving regular Malaseb baths, and keeping him isolated that it's safe enough to try. If he can stay at the shelter, we'll be doing that instead. I won't know until next week, so I have some time to ask for any experiances any of you have had with a problem like this. I might even call my vet and see what he thinks.
post #2 of 8
I work with an urban cat rescue group and we see ringworm all the time. I'm not sure why your group is going through all this effort to eradicate it, when its costing the lives of some who left the barn and got killed etc. Ringworm isn't dangerous. In humans with compromised immune systems its a risk, but it is not a dnager to cats. I dont know about immune compromised cats, but in cats in general its not dangerous at all, just unsightly. So why all the concern??
post #3 of 8
With everything you said in your post, it sounds as if the ringworm is almost cleared up if not gone. If you are very careful for the remainder of the wait period there shouldn't be a problem. Here is a link you can read, you can put this kitty as well as your other kittys on Program to help...
Recent studies have shown that it can protect cats from contracting ringworm and if there's a chance the new kitty has it still, it will treat it.
post #4 of 8
Oh ringworm, just the thought of it makes me quiver. I work at a shelter and we are always seeing new cases of it popping up. We are using the medicene named CONIFITE for the infected cats (In another building) and we do the Programme method once a month (my job) to all cats who show no signs of ringworm.

It can be a strange fungus, some of our cats have never had it, even at the height of our outbreak and yet some get it al the time.

I wouldn't really worry about it too much though, Ringworm is not really even a worm. Think of it more as athleats (sp?) foot for cats

Good Luck

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
stephanq, it is a real danger when it's a no cage shelter with 150 cats in the building. So far over 80% of the cats have gotten it, and it's not slowing down. It's also mutating into forms that aren't responding to treatment. About 25 kittens have died because of it in the past few months. (We lot a great foster home because he lost all 7 of his fosters at the same time, too.) Rumor may be that it isn't a killer, but in a high-stress shelter environment, it weakens the cats' bodies enough to allow secondary infections to kill them. (And I do mean kill them - I'm not talking about the ones who were put to sleep according to the shelter's policies on sick cats.) And what's even worse is that it's spread into foster homes, where even more kittens are. It was to the point where the entire building was infected, and they actually talked about demolishing the shelter and rebuilding. They think that getting professional cleaners in, along with a change in policies, can stop the infection.

We also can't adopt out cats that have ringworm, because people won't take them (not that I blame them). And having the cats stay at the shelter until they get better isn't working, because as soon as they're deemed healthy, they come down with it again. (The cats in one room have all come down with it THREE times. That's not normal.)

I've also been talking to the vets at the shelter, and they're saying that research done last year shows that Program does not work on ringworm. Only medicated baths like Malaseb, or Lime-Sulfer dips. Considering that Program certianly didn't work at the shelter, I'm not really sure I trust it to prevent it.

The one good thing about making a ruckous over this cat is that even if I can't take him, I've been assured he won't be going back to the barn, and he won't be euthanized. They'll either find a temporary foster situation until his cultures come back as clear, and then either I'll take him or he'll be returned to the shelter.
post #6 of 8
I had a Persian cat a couple weeks ago who I took from someone who didn't want him because he had "some weird flaky things on his skin" as they told me. It turned out to be ringworm and it was all over his face and neck. I didn't know much about it but I was told it is hard to control and Persians are likely to become carriers of it. No one could take the cat home including me because we all have so many cats already who we don't want to put at risk. And he couldn't stay tat the shelter with risk of infecting other cats. They said dips are the best thing and daily baths too, which is still hard to do because the ringworm was all over his face and you can't just wipe soaps and cleaners all over his face. We ended up euthanizing him.

Now I am constantly hearing different things like either ringworm is no big deal at all or euthanize all ringworm cats its too dangerous!. I am confused as to whether or not I did the right thing. I would hate to have euthanized him for nothing, but from what the shelter people said, it was the right thing to do. Can anyone reassure me that I did the right thing or else tell me I am horrible for it. I want to know what you people think, either way.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
They started a new policy at the shelter that any cat with over 30% of his body covered in ringworm must be euthanized, because it would be too costly to treat and might not work.

What I don't think people realize is that there are different strains of ringworm, some worse that others. (Like in humans - There's athleates foot, jock itch, ringworm of the scalp, and ringworm of the body and nails. All are different strains.) And, depending on the cat, it can react differently, almost becoming a mutated strain.

I can't tell you that what was done was right or wrong, Jen. I'm not a vet, and I've never seen that cat. However, I do know from working at the shelter, that daily baths can be tolerated, and that faces must be washed, because that's where it normally occurs. (I've done it myself because I was on the grooming team.) There are a lot of shelters who will euthanize any cat that shows signs of ringworm becuase once it starts spreading, it's almost impossible to stop, halts adoptions, and costs thousands of dollars to treat the cats. I feel lucky that the ladies in charge of my shelter don't think that way. I have a feeling, though, that if it started out with only a few cats having it that they would have been euthanized right out. But within a week a quarter of the population had it, and I think the shelter owners realized that had they put 35 cats to sleep at once because of it, almost all of the volunteers would have quit.

But it does sound like this Persian had an advanced case of ringworm. It would probably have been hard to treat, and he would have been stressed the entire time he was in quarentine (possibly months), and it would take even longer for the hair to grow back to the point where he didn't look sickly. Would sitting in a cage at a shelter for months on end do him any good? And then what would have happened if it had spread to the rest of the shelter cats? Would risking their health and lives for one cat really be worth it?
post #8 of 8
Ringworm (no matter what strain) can be treated. Yes, it's highly contagious..but managable if treated properly. There is NO ringworm that cannot be cleared up. If the world were perfect, cats would not be euthanized at shelters because of it. Sadly, the world is not perfect and it happens.
Jen, your post leads me to beleive that this cat was not in a shelter, rather given to you because another owner did not want to deal with the problem. In the case of a persian, the protocol would have been to shave it, bathe it, and treat it with oral medication. I am sorry if this hurts your feelings, but no the cat should not have been euthanized because of ringworm.
There is no reason a cat with ringworm can't be treated and brought into a home. I know from first hand experience 5 years ago. I took 2 of them, one had it so bad she had no hair left on her face and upper body. They are both healthy happy adults now.
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