You may have noticed that I have already written a blog about fostering an animal with ringworm, but that just skimmed the surface. Caring for an animal with ringworm, especially one with other illnesses, can be hectic and amazing, all wrapped up in one experience. I currently have a foster that I picked up from the Nevada Humane Society on Monday, May 11th. Her name is Cici, and she’s a four-week-old kitten with ringworm and an upper respiratory infection (URI).
Cici weighed around 22oz, which is a pretty healthy weight for her age. Kittens at four weeks of age should weigh at least 12-15 oz. Her eyes were crusty, and she was sneezing and slightly lethargic, which is all a result of her URI. She was losing hair in chunks as her ringworm took over her back legs, ears, nose, and stomach. Her treatment included oral antifungal medication and medicated baths for the ringworm and oral antibiotics and eye drops for the URI. If you’ve ever wondered what life looks like taking care of a foster kitten with ringworm, now you will!
Before sharing my schedule, I would also like to share that I properly cover up my skin before caring for Cici. I wear sweatshirts, sweatpants, socks, and gloves when caring for her. This is to ensure the ringworm does not spread to my cats or me. I would not want to spread it to my animals. When I leave her room, I take my socks off right away, and the clothes I was wearing go straight into the wash. I remove my gloves and thoroughly wash my hands with soap and warm water. These steps minimize the risk of the ringworm spreading in my home,
When my roommate, and foster animal co-parent, wakes up at 5:30 am for work, she will feed her and make sure she is doing okay. Following her first feeding, I check on her between 7-8 am to see if she needs any more food, and dependent on how well she ate earlier in the morning, I syringe feed her to make sure she is well fed. I also give her antibiotics, antifungal medication, and eye drops. She is definitely not my biggest fan after that! I like to spend time playing with her and giving her some love and affection as she is still a little bit timid around humans, and I have to leave on a good note after playing vet.
I work part-time remotely and part-time in my office. Luckily, my office is about 8 minutes away from home, so it is easy for me to run home and check on her at lunch. I will feed her, fill up her dry food and water, and play with her. Usually, in the middle of the day, she is quite literally bouncing off the walls, which is a nice break from a busy workday!
If I am working from home and on the weekends, I will also play with her throughout the day. There are only two days of the week in which she has less playtime and visits. Especially in the first few days in my care, I like to ensure my fosters are doing well and on a path towards becoming a healthy kitten. This means feedings and check-ins are a lot more regular until I can understand the health and routine of the specific foster. With Cici, I quickly learned that she was going to be a picky eater, and we needed to closely watch her weight. She was at a healthy weight for her age, but it needed to y that way. If she wasn’t eating well, then she might start deteriorating.
In the afternoon around 5:30, I check on her again. I make sure she is well fed and has some playtime. This is also the time of the day I change out the laundry in her room and clean up. Ringworm is highly contagious and zoonotic, meaning she can pass it on to me and other animals. Ringworm can spread by direct contact with the spores or touching clothing or other objects that the infected animal has touched. Therefore, it can spread through the blankets and sheets making up her care area.
I take out all of the sheets and blankets in the room and replace them with clean ones, wipe down any noticeably dirty areas and spray peroxide on the floor. These steps promote a healthier care area leading to a quicker recovery. I wash all linens in the washing machine with bleach and hot water on a double rinse cycle, and I dry them on high heat. This process kills any spores that have transferred to the linens.
The kitten receives medicated baths every three days, so when it is time for her bath we do a slightly different process. The medicated soap for her baths has to sit on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing, so I put the treatment on and my roommate holds her and keeps her warm while I sanitize the room. The difference in cleaning processes if she is getting a bath slightly changes to complete floor cleaning, changing out her litter box, and replacing all food and water bowls. After the room is cleaned, I will rinse the medication off of the kitten, and once again my roommate will hold her to dry her off and warm her while I finish the room.
Cici is on antifungal and antibiotic medication which she needs doses of both at night time, so around 7-8 pm, I give her her meds and play with her. I try to separate feeding and medication check-ins because if I am giving her medication through a syringe and then switch to food, she already has a negative association with the syringe and will not eat. Therefore, I will go in again around 11 pm before I go to sleep to make sure she eats one more time before bed.
The first few days she was in my care, I did wake up once throughout the night to make sure she was doing okay and see if she needed any food. Since she was gaining weight and healthy, I started sleeping through the night and checking on her first thing in the morning. You want to continue with regular feedings and check-ins around the clock until you are sure the kitten is healthy and stable.
Taking care of a kitten with ringworm is a commitment, but I do not think enough people are willing to care for a ringworm kitten. Many people shy away as soon as they hear ‘worm’ but ringworm is not a worm and just a fungus of the skin. These kittens still need love and care, and I am happy to give it to them. Follow for more content on animal rescue and fostering!