Expanding Options for Ringworm Treatment: A Promising Study for Shelter Cats

Predominantly plaguing felines, ringworm is a fungal skin infection that can be difficult and time-consuming to treat in a high-volume shelter setting. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted to other animals and humans – adding to the complexity of ringworm treatment management. However, a new study out of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine aims to determine if there are viable treatment alternatives to the standard, stinky and labor-intensive, lime sulfur treatment for shelter cats with ringworm.  

In summer 2022, coordinators with Cornell who were familiar with Seattle Humane’s commitment to treating a high volume of animals with infectious conditions, reached out to Dr. Jessica Reed, Vice President of Veterinary Services at Seattle Humane, with an invitation to participate. Seattle Humane sees a significant number of ringworm cases in pets transferred through our Lifesaver Rescue program. 

Ringworm-positive kittens, Princess Margaret and Prince Harry (“The Royals”), enjoy a snack between receiving topical treatments as part of Cornell’s ringworm treatment study at Seattle Humane.

Lime sulfur dips stink!  

Literally and figuratively. The chemical concoction fills the shelter with the smell of rotten eggs and often leaves behind a yellowish tint on cats’ fur. The dips are time-consuming and labor-intensive to administer, requiring careful handling and frequent application. If less offensive shampoos can cure ringworm in a similar timeframe as their stinky counterpart, the study is poised to provide improved treatment options beneficial for both the afflicted felines and the dedicated shelter staff who care for them.  

The Study in Action at Seattle Humane 

Seattle Humane’s animal care associates play a vital role in the study by administering the treatments and collecting the samples for the cats enrolled. Cats receive their assigned topical treatment twice a week, and samples for ringworm cultures are collected and submitted to the laboratory twice a week as well.  

The treatments and sample collection continue until the animals are clear of ringworm. As study participants, Seattle Humane’s goal is to treat 25 cats with alternative treatments. As of the first week of June 2023, the first 15 ringworm-positive cats participating in the program were cleared of ringworm! 

Seattle Humane celebrates every cat who clears ringworm after completing alternative treatments on the colorful Ringworm Hall of Fame.

Doing Our Part for Pets 

Seattle Humane is grateful for the opportunity to play a hands-on role in academic research to diversify treatment options for shelter cats with ringworm. This initiative shows promise to benefit the cats and the dedicated shelter personnel who care for them. 

4 thoughts on “Expanding Options for Ringworm Treatment: A Promising Study for Shelter Cats

  1. My adorable former foster Alex made it into this study after contracting ringworm! Thank you for getting him back to health and straight through to an adoptive family.

  2. This is really exciting. Ringworms aren’t difficult to care for but I hope this is easier and will make people more willing to foster kitties with ringworm.

  3. I fostered Princess Margaret and Prince Harry. Worked hard to try and clear them; thought we had. But glad they are/were part of a research study to help other kitties. Thank you for all that you do!

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