Ketoconazole & Ringworm: A Breeder's Experience

by Dawna Roskelley
Konfettikat Persians

Published October 2006

Spanish Translation / Traducción Español

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dawna Roskelley of Konfettikat cattery has been raising Persians since 1987 and specializes in Bi-Colors and Smoke Bi-Colors.

She and her husband Gerald live at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Utah where they maintain a cattery that is small in numbers with emphasis on quality and health.

All the kitties are loved and spoiled by their 10 grand children.


I bought my first Persian in 1987. I soon bought a second kitty which led to my becoming a breeder. Konfettikat became a “real” entity in 1993, when a breeder liked the quality of our kittens and decided to teach our daughter, Vicky, and I how to show.

Ringworm

Four years later we "bought" our first case of Ringworm. Two newly purchased cats broke with Ringworm shortly after arrival. Because we had quarantined the newcomers, we managed to keep it out of our cattery .

Then, in 1998, my worse fears were realized when Ringworm spread through the entire cattery, from a new cat that had been treated while in quarantine but had re-broken with fungus when introduced into the cattery.

I was devastated... and began the long and unpleasant protocol of Fulvicin pills and Lyme Dipping all of our cats.

Ketoconazole

When I broke with Ringworm, my doctor gave me a prescription for Nizoral ointment, the brand name for the drug named Ketoconazole.

It worked well and I wondered if I could use it on the cats. I asked my veterinarian about it. He did a bit of research and gave me a prescription for the ointment, oral medication, and a shampoo containing Ketoconazole

I was amazed at how fast the cats responded to treatment, and within 3 weeks all cats were clear. I was hooked! I wondered, "Was Ketoconazole the answer to the dreaded Ringworm dilemma?".

Side Effects

The one problem I encountered with administering oral Ketoconazole was that after about 3 days the cats would stop eating. To counter this, I administered Cyproheptadine, an appetite stimulant.

Eventually, in discussion with another veterinarian, I was advised to lower the dosage I was using. When the dosage was adjusted to 5 mg/pound/cat there were no more problems with appetite loss.

Deborah Colker, DVM

Some years later, I was discussing Ketoconazole with a breeder friend who said she had an article written by a veterinarian, Dr. Deborah Colker, who also raised Persians. The article confirmed the effectiveness of Ketoconazole stating that a shorter time period for dosing is much better for the cat (as well as easier for the owner).

Refining The Protocol

Over the next few years, and with the help of four different veterinarians from Kentucky to Utah, we developed an effective dosage and treatment protocol.

This is the protocol we have used at Konfettikat with a high rate of success and safety for the past eight years.

  • Cut a 200mg tablet of Ketoconazole in half.
  • Cut each half into 3 pieces, as equal in size as possible.
  • Administer 1 piece a day, for 7 days, for a cat that weighs between 6 and 8 lbs.
  • If at the end of the 6th day of treatment, the cat is not cleared of visible Ringworm lesions, wait 14 days and then treat for another 7 days.

In one particularly difficult case, I used two 14-day treatments, with a 14-day break between them.

Some anecdotal reports claim that the extended treatment can clear a carrier.

Medicating

Ketoconazole does not have an objectionable taste, but if you have a cat that battles being given an oral medication, you can crush the piece of tablet and sprinkle it on canned food.

If your cats are like mine, they will only lick up the gravy and leave the rest - so to make sure they get ALL of the medication, I use Whiskas GROUND or canned A/D.

I mix the two together then give each cat just a small amount with the medication added. Keeping the feeding small ensures that each cat finishes their "treat" and receives a complete dose. I mix water with the canned food to give it a soupy consistency and have not yet had a cat refuse to eat it all. Yum! Yum!

Kittens

One of the veterinarians I especially respect conducted some data research and recommended I not give Ketoconazole orally to kittens under 4 months of age.

For kittens 4 months old, and up to 6 lbs, I divide a 200mg tablet into 8 pieces.

I treat kittens between 4 and 6 months for no more than 5 days then stop. In less than a week the lesions should be free of scabs with nice pink healthy skin and the r may even be starting to grow. Unless a kitten has a very severe infection, one 5 day treatment period will take care of it. If there are still scabby lesions, wait 14 days from the last dose, then start another 5 day treatment.

Pregnant Queens

Oral Ketoconazole should not be given to a pregnant female as it may cause her to abort her kittens.

Nursing Kittens

According to one vet who did some data research, and my own experience after receiving his information, Ketoconazole does not cross the milk barrier and can be given to a nursing queen without being harmful to her kittens.

Nizoral Ointment/Cream

I keep a tube of the ointment on hand to use on spots, especially for tiny kittens and queens that cannot receive the oral medication.

Nizoral Shampoo

So... if Ketoconazole cannot be given to kittens under 4 months of age or pregnant queens, how do you treat them if they have Ringworm?

Nizoral shampoo is now available without a prescription at your pharmacy or at most Wal-Marts, in the dandruff shampoo section.

I bath kittens or pregnant queens once or twice a week with this shampoo, depending on the severity. I also use it on cats that have Ringworm to help control the spread, and I bath my show cats in it before and after shows, as a precaution.

It is not harmful to the coat and makes them smell wonderful!

I do not use the Nizoral shampoo on nursing queens in case there is a residue which could be ingested by nursing babies. It is better to give them the oral treatment.

Fish-Fungus

Ketoconazole ointment and tablets require a prescription.

Fish-Fungus is available from Revival without a prescription and contains 200mg tablets of Ketoconazole

In Conclusion

Like all Ringworm medications, Ketoconazole should never be used as a preventative.

If you are unfamiliar with Ringworm, then a culture is the best way to determine if your cat needs Ketoconazole

Don’t be surprised if your veterinarian is reluctant to prescribe it. Many veterinarians are not familiar with this treatment, even though it has been around since at least the early l990’s. If your veterinarian is reluctant, ask him to research information on the internet about the product and its use against Ringworm in felines.

I believe it is safe to say that Ketoconazole is one of the best kept secrets in the cat fancy.

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