Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals
Veterinary Focus

Issue number 31.1 Other Scientific

Dermatophytosis in cats

Published 05/05/2021

Written by Amelia White

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano , Română , Español and 한국어

Dermatophytosis (often known as “ringworm”) is a common dermatological fungal infection in cats that should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible, as Amelia White explains. 

Multifocal areas of alopecia and crusting on the dorsal nasal bridge and rostral muzzle of a kitten with M. canis infection

Key points

Dermatophytosis is a common superficial fungal infection in cats that is both contagious and zoonotic.

Dermatophytosis is self-limiting, but treatment is always recommended in order to prevent contamination of the environment and spread of disease to other cats or people.

Diagnosis is achieved easily through a combination of PCR, Wood’s lamp, trichography, and fungal culture. 

The treatment goals are to kill the fungal organisms and reduce spread within the environment through a combination of systemic and topical therapies. 



Fungal dermatoses frequently occur in veterinary medicine, and dermatophytosis represents one of the most common causes of infectious superficial folliculitis in cats. Dermatophytes are keratin-loving organisms that invade skin and hair shafts, leading to clinical signs of folliculitis. The most common dermatophyte species affecting cats is Microsporum canis, and the cat serves as its environmental reservoir. 

Dermatophytosis is both contagious and zoonotic, therefore rapid diagnosis and treatment will prevent propagation within the environment and spread of disease, which is especially important in multi-cat households, catteries, and shelter environments. The traditional means of diagnosis (including Wood’s lamp, trichography, and dermatophyte culture) remain widely accepted, and PCR is a useful tool to shorten time to treatment and clinical resolution. Although the disease is self-limiting, treatment is recommended to prevent spread of infection.


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