Petting a Cat with Ringworm: A Quick Guide for new Kitty owners

Cats provide never-ending entertainment and cuddles.

As a cat owner, nothing fills your heart with joy like sharing your heart and home with your kitty.

You want to share every part of your space with the pet, groom them without restrictions, and pet them whenever.

However, when your cat has ringworm, you must wonder if you can still pet them as you used to before.

Ringworm is uncomfortable, unsightly, and persistent. Getting rid of it takes time, money, and bonding time with the cat.

You certainly cannot imagine you or another member of the family catching it from the cat.

So, can you pet a cat with ringworm?

Well, it depends on when you are going to pet a cat with ringworm—before she’s treated and after treatment.

Let’s delve deeper into the two situations so that you can have a clear idea…

A. Petting Before Treatment

Can you pet a cat with ringworm before she is treated? And if you do, can you get ringworm?

According to, ringworm can be passed from an infected cat to a human being through petting and other forms of contact.

However, you can only catch the infection if you have a wound, graze, or scratch on your skin.

If you are healthy and don’t have any breaks in your skin, you just might escape ringworm even from petting an infected cat.

People with skin conditions including eczema and those with weak immune systems such as the elderly, young children, and chemo patients are also at greater risk of getting ringworm.

Healthy adults without any breaks on the skin are resistant to ringworm. 

Still, it is a great idea to stop petting a cat with ringworm altogether. Get them treated first before you come into contact with the pet.

How Fast Will The Symptoms Manifest?

if you or another member of the family comes into contact with ringworm from your cat, don’t expect it to show off immediately.

It may take up to 14 days for the fungus to trigger itching after infection.

You may start to notice the ringworm earlier but most people take two weeks for the first signs to present themselves.

Thankfully, the infection can be cleared easily and fast especially if caught early.

With a good over-the-counter lotion or cream, the infection should be able to clear from your body in 2-4 weeks.

What to Do If You Touched a Cat with Ringworm

You should do all you can to avoid touching a cat with ringworm.

But what if you just played with your sick kitty and are now worried about getting infected?

Well, first things first, don’t panic. If you do, you may end up spreading the fungus cells all over the place. These will eventually spread the infection to other members of the family.

After touching a cat with ringworm, wash your hands and clothes thoroughly with hot water and detergent.

Do the same for any other fabric that you suspect has the ringworm fungus as well.

 If you have pores on your skin, contact your healthcare provider to give you direction on what to do.

 They may prescribe over-the-counter medications or ask you to come in for diagnostic tests.

As mentioned before, ringworm in humans is easy to manage. With medications, you should recover pretty fast.

Nevertheless, if the symptoms persist, make another appointment with the doctor.

Meanwhile, try to avoid contact with other people and pets at home. The fungus remains active for a few months after infection.

Steer clear until the healthcare provider gives you a go-ahead to make contact with your family again.

General Precautions to Take When Petting a Cat with Ringworm

Petting a cat with ringworm (no matter your health status) is a risk you don’t want to take.

 However, if you have no choice but pet the kitty, you want to pay attention to the following precautions.

  • Wear gloves, long-sleeved clothes, and an apron before petting the cat to limit the chance of catching the ringworm.
  • Wash your hands before and after petting the cat if you skip on the gloves. Soap and other detergents will wash away the fungus if you catch any.
  • Wash your clothes in the washer thoroughly after petting an infected cat to get rid of the ringworm fungus.
  • Cover wounds and abrasions regardless of how small and mild they are. Open wounds are gateways for the ringworm to enter the body.

B. Petting After Treatment

Now let’s focus on petting your cat after treatment…

Is it safe to pet your cat after she has been treated for ringworms? Precisely, when is it safe to pet a cat after ringworm treatment?

Well, certain medical conditions stop spreading immediately after treatment. Unfortunately, ringworm is not one of them.

As VCA Hospitals would have it, infected cats don’t stop being infectious until three weeks after aggressive treatment is administered.

 The length of time is determined by the health of the cat. The healthier she is, the quicker her response time to the treatment.

During the three-week period, consider minimizing exposure of the cat to you and other members of the family.

You are probably wondering if your kitty will be safe to pet after mentioned 3 weeks have elapsed after treatment.

The short answer is: you’ll still have to monitor her to see if the ringworm is still there or not.


How Do I Know If My Cat’s Ringworm Is Gone?

After aggressive treatment of ringworm using antifungals and other forms of treatment, you should be able to see changes in 2-4 weeks.

You can tell the fungus is on its way out if the cat’s skin clears up.

The red lesions present in the skin along with any other marks should be completely gone. Where there was baldness, hair will regrow.

However, to know for sure that the ringworm is completely off your kitty, you might want to take the cat to the vet for testing.

She will be healed if two culture samples are clear after testing.

If you’ve been following, you can confirm that I have been talking about aggressive treatments…but I haven’t mentioned any of these treatment options.

 So, which treatment options should you opt for if your cat has ringworms? Check out this post for ideas: How to Treat Ringworm in Cats without Going to the Vet (15 Strategies)

Finally, there is another common concern among cat parents who are trying to find the best practices to handle kitties with ringworms:

How Long Are Cats Contagious After Starting Antibiotics?

Ringworm is a fungal disease and not a bacterial one.

As a result, it is predominantly treated with antifungals rather than antibacterial drugs. The latter kills bacteria and not fungi.

 If your cat gets a bacterial infection in the course of having ringworm, the vet may prescribe antibacterial medication as well. However, this will not treat ringworm in any way.

So, to answer the question, an infected cat remains contagious until given the right medications.

According to, untreated feline ringworm will self-resolve in 9-12 years depending on the health of the animal.

General Precautions To Take (When Petting A Cat With Ringworm Post-Treatment)

As aforementioned, treatment of ringworm in a cat doesn’t make her a zero carrier of the fungus immediately. It takes 3 weeks for the cat to stop being contagious.

Before you rush to pet the cat, do the following:

  • Use gloves, aprons, and long sleeves while petting until the contagious period is over.
  • Let the cat be assessed by the vet before you pet them with bare hands. Only make contact once both culture tests come back clear.

Parting Thoughts

Ringworm in cats is a nightmare for cat parents.

Not only does it cause pain and discomfort for the kitty but it is easily spread to both pets and humans.

Petting is one way of transmitting the fungus from one party to another.

If your kitty has ringworm, exercise caution when it comes to petting them lest you catch it as well.