Ringworm FAQ

What you need to know about ringworm

Frequently asked questions

If you have ever walked barefoot in a gym, been around horses or played in the dirt when you were a kid, you are probably familiar with a family of funguses that also affect kittens.

Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about ringworm.

What is ringworm?

Ringworm (Dermatophytosis) is a fungal infection that can be passed to humans. Despite its name, ringworm is not a worm and the rash does not always appear as a ring. Like athlete’s foot, ringworm is a highly treatable, non-life-threatening infection. It is, however, contagious to humans. This is typically more of a concern for people who are very young, seniors or immunocompromised. Ringworm can also be spread to other cats and dogs in the home.

How does OHS help kittens and cats with ringworm?

The shelter has a special isolation area where kittens and cats are treated for ringworm. OHS also has a limited number of foster homes who care for these pets. Treating otherwise healthy kittens for ringworm in a shelter environment is not ideal because they are usually in the shelter for a long time, potentially exposing them to other illnesses. OHS recently launched a new program to find special adopters for kittens who have ringworm.

Why adopt a kitten with ringworm?

Kittens with ringworm can often spend months in a shelter undergoing treatment – which is stressful for the kittens and deprives them of important socialization. In many communities, these pets face euthanasia because the infection can spread very quickly in a shelter environment. Getting kittens into homes to complete their treatment reduces stress, promotes healing, and allows OHS to help shelters around Oregon that are struggling to help cats and kittens.

Things to know when adopting a ringworm positive kitten/cat from OHS.

A bathroom or similar room is preferred for housing the kitten. All bedding and living space will need to be cleaned/decontaminated thoroughly and frequently to avoid reinfection or spread to other members of the home. The infection, although treatable, can take up to three months to clear.

Ringworm is contagious to other animals, so we recommend keeping your new kitten / cat separate from other animals in the house. We do not recommend adopting a kitten or cat being treated for ringworm if you have older or immune compromised pets in your home.

What are the costs?

Adoption fees for ringworm positive kittens/cats from OHS will be waived. OHS will also provide the first month of treatment. All follow up expenses including treatment beyond the first month will need to be covered by the adopter. Additional treatment includes oral medications, medicated baths, and fungal cultures will be necessary. OHS is not responsible for any expenses incurred if the infection should spread to other pets or humans in the home.

How do you manage ringworm in a home environment?

In some situations, environmental decontamination is difficult as the organism is extremely hardy and resistant to many common household cleaners. Rooms without carpeting, furniture/fabric window coverings etc. are ideal housing options for your kitten. Vacuum cleaners, pet carriers, leashes, collars, and grooming equipment can all become contaminated during routine cleaning.  Spores can also travel on the clothing, hands, skin of caretakers. We recommend caretakers of ringworm positive cats wear gloves and a protective smock/gown that are washed/changed between interactions in addition to thorough handwashing.

This sounds overwhelming! How can I tell if I am the right adopter?

OHS has a dedicated adoption specialist who will walk you through all things you need to consider when deciding if adopting a kitten with ringworm is right for you. We know it will be a big commitment and a lot of work at first, but having a healthy, playful kitten will make it all worth it!

Where else can I find information?

There are a lot of national animal welfare groups that have great information on ringworm in kittens. Here are a few:


Best Friends Animal Society

How do I adopt a ringworm kitten or cat?

Kittens and cats with ringworm will have a special note on their profiles. If you are interested in adopting one of them, submit an adoption questionnaire located at the bottom of the cat’s profile. View our available cats.