Perhaps you see skin lesions on your cat, or maybe she’s scratching excessively at a red, scaly, or balding patch. If so, there’s a good chance your kitty has ringworm or another fungal infection. It’s time to visit your vet.
Antifungal shampoos are often indicated for treatment of ringworm and other fungal infections. They’re also useful against various types of dermatitis, which leave your pet vulnerable to fungal infections. Plus, these shampoos usually contain emollients, antipruritics, or other ingredients that soothe symptoms of allergic skin conditions.
Types of Antifungal Shampoos for Cats
Three medications are used most in feline antifungal shampoos: ketoconazole, miconazole, and chlorhexidine. In addition, itraconazole and fluconazole are two relatively new derivatives of ketoconazole that are quickly becoming widely used.
Ketoconazole is the most potent antifungal ingredient used in feline shampoos. Being the toughest has a downside, though; it’s also the most likely to cause irritation and minor side effects. However, itraconazole and fluconazole have demonstrated ketoconazole’s power without as much incidence of adverse reactions.
Miconazole is slightly less effective but also better tolerated than ketoconazole. Miconazole shampoos, like Sebozole or Dermazole, are a good choice for minor fungal infections that haven’t spread far and aren’t causing many symptoms or suffering.
Chlorhexidine is particularly useful for its antibacterial properties in addition to its antifungal action. This makes it a common additive to cat shampoos containing other antifungal ingredients. It also means this ingredient is good for managing seborrhea and other types of dermatitis.
Using an Antifungal Shampoo on Your Cat
Your vet will advise you on the best product and how to use it. Read over all the manufacturer’s directions and cautionary statements before use. It’s important to properly treat your kitty’s infection to prevent it from spreading and to end your pet’s discomfort. Because itching and irritation can quickly lead to skin damage and secondary infections, the sooner you can ease your cat’s symptoms, the better.
Typically, you’ll start by thoroughly wetting your cat’s coat with warm water. After shaking the bottle of antifungal shampoo, apply a liberal amount to your hand and use it to lather her head and outside her ears. Apply more shampoo to her neck and back, lathering as you go, and then move on to her chest, tail, and legs. Wait 5 to 10 minutes, and then wash all the shampoo off thoroughly. For best results, repeat the process.
Warnings and Side Effects
Antifungal shampoos are known to cause some minor side effects in some cats. Avoid getting the shampoo into your kitty’s eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. If this happens, rinse the affected area thoroughly and call your vet if irritation persists. If your cat becomes red, itchy, or otherwise irritated while you’re treating her skin condition, stop using the shampoo and call your vet. An alternative treatment may be necessary. Also, make sure your vet knows about all your cat’s current medications and health conditions, including pregnancy, when he prescribes a shampoo to treat her infection.
If your cat develops hives, a rash, increased itching, swelling, areas of redness, or other possible indications of a hypersensitive reaction while you’re using an antifungal shampoo, quickly and completely wash the shampoo off and head in to your vet’s office or a veterinary hospital.