Categories: ringworm

The Worst Case of Feline Ringworm That You Will See and It Was on a Tiger

Aasha is a female Bengal tiger. She was a travelling circus tiger. When she was spotted with ringworm at the age of nine months she had the weight of a three-month-old cub at 30 pounds and most of her coat including all her head was badly affected by ringworm. The ringworm had taken all the colour out of the infected areas and turned the coat to grey. Her appearance was shocking and sad.

Aasha when she first arrived at In-Sync with exceptionally bad ringworm. Photo: In-Sync Exotics.

In addition to suffering from an horrendous infection of ringworm, this sweet female tiger cub was being bullied or pestered in her cage at the circus by a much larger tiger. No doubt Aasha was miserable both because of being picked on by a bigger tiger and because she must have been in a considerable amount of discomfort due to the ringworm infection. Being captive in a travelling circus would have made her miserable as well.

As this was a travelling circus I would have thought that the tiger with whom she shared a cage would also have had ringworm because this is a highly contagious fungal infection.

Aasha on the mend with plenty of TLC and committed medical treatment. Photo: In-Sync Exotics.

Aasha’s condition first came to the notice of a USDA inspector. The inspector wanted to transfer her to Texas’ In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center (“In-Sync Exotics”) founded by Vicky Keahey.

Aasha’s condition was horrible. Her skin was in a very bad way. There were open wounds. Her skin was cracked, bleeding and there were dark areas. She was rescued by In-Sync Exotics and placed into isolation because, as mentioned, this is a highly contagious disease.

Aasha looking healthy and happy thanks to Vicky Keahey at In-Sync Exotics.

Vicky Keahey diligently treated Aasha for her ringworm for several months as far as I can tell. After eight weeks of treatment progress was visible in that her coat started to grow back.

Aasha learned to love water during her treatment. This happened because she had to be treated in a specially medicated bath which she wasn’t happy about. She ran away. The treatment of ringworm is difficult. But essentially tigers love water and now she spends a lot of her time in it.

Aasha falling in love with big Smuggler and vice versa. Photo: In-Sync Exotics

The happy ending is enhanced by the fact that she fell in love with a big male tiger (which was reciprocated) at the In-Sync Exotics sanctuary whose name is Smuggler. Smuggler was at one time three times the size of her and now she’s about half his size. But there was an immediate attraction and with careful management they were placed together and you can see that they have a great time.

The lovers: Aasha and Smuggler. What a result.

She is now confident, healthy tiger. Her size, which I would say still looks small, is probably due to the early neglectful years in the travelling circus.

The treatment of generalised ringworm requires the infected hair to be clipped followed by a twice weekly dip with an antifungal solution such as LymDyp (lime sulphur) or Nolvasan (chlorhexidine). The dips take place until two weeks beyond the cure. There are also oral antifungal drugs. There is also a vaccine which may not be very effective.

Sources: The Dodo, Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Myself. Link: In-Sync Exotics FB page.



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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • I just stumbled on this story and at one level, it's a real, much needed cockle warmer today, especially seeing Aasha and Smuggler so happy and healthy together. But boy what a hell hole these traveling circuses and roadside zoos are.today

    I expect poor Aasha's immune system was at the lowest ebb when she was rescued which might have caused itching to add to her discomfort?

    A big cheer to all at In-Sync who took on what must have seemed an impossible task, returning one tiger to good health.

    • I feel the same way. This poor tiger. What humans put tigers through is shocking and depressing. The human race lacks respect for these animals. If we respected them they would not drifting towards extinction in the wild.

  • Poor girl. Circuses and zoos are just breeding grounds for these things.
    This is a terrible case of neglect for it to have progressed as far as this.
    As far as discomfort...
    I've had several cats with ringworm and, thankfully, they never showed any signs of itching during the acute phase. I'm grateful for that, because scratching the patches could have resulted in secondary infections as a result. However, I did see some signs of itching when the patches were resolving. But, itching is common when any lesion or wound is in the healing stage.

    • More than breeding grounds fake zoos and low rent circuses along with private owners do NOT have the skill set access to the kind of diagnostics or medication or even the faculties to treat large carnivores. Exotic animals are extremely expensive to treat.

      • A given, ME. I'm trying not to rant about zoos and circuses as I always do.
        I have always hoped that sense would prevail, and that all would close. Just a dream. The best we can lobby for is stricter controls over these imprisonments and mandatory vet care. Perhaps, if the cost were high enough for stringent requirements, rinky-dink establishments would give up and fold. Then, the concern would be what they intended to do with the animals.

        • In most cases the animals would be better of destroyed. They have no use in breeding programs, cannot be released and will without fail be housed at sanctuaries which in some cases can be worse from where they came from. Big cats, bears, elephants, and any member of the monkey or ape family do not belong in private hands at any time. Elephants, and many marine mammals require care beyond what world class zoos are incapable of providing for.
          My personal observation is that a great percentage of the human population has trouble dealing with a dog or cat. Why are we still preaching spay and neuter to anyone ?

          • "My personal observation is that a great percentage of the human population has trouble dealing with a dog or cat. Why are we still preaching spay and neuter to anyone ?"

            Not sure what you mean, ME.

          • Normal everyday pet owners are often overwhelmed by the amount of care one little kitty kat needs. Picture the same people deciding to get a pet tiger. That's how the little one in this article ended up the way he did. In reality he should have never been bred.

  • Big cats do not belong in any circus or quasi zoo or as roadside entertainment Nor do they belong in the hands of private citizens who keep them for their own narcissistic needs. None of these tigers have viable DNA to add to any breeding program to help repopulate a healthy wild population.
    I make exceptions for well run biological parks. Most real zoos are moving to education and preservation instead of entertainment.

  • Michael_
    I tend to follow your logic as you know first hand from personal experience.I had allergies as a child and can tell anyone that a condition affecting the surface of the skin itches and hurts due to all our nerve endings being located there. This is what the body does to warn us humans and feline's alike that something is amiss.

    Eva say's_

    • As I said my kittens weren't bothered by it at all. You can tell when the cat is itchy - they try to scratch the spot or rub it on the floor. Mine didn't care at all even though some lesions looked scaly. A couple of the lesions looked scaly and pink, others were just areas of hair loss, but they didn't really care. I didn't know they had ringworm when I got them from the shelter, and so I let them all over my place and into my bedroom, then I didn't have the heart to evict them. I put a linen over the blanket to make it easier to wash as I was washing linens every other day. Then I had to fight every night with them trying to get onto my head which I was covering with the blanket.

      \Ringworm does always itch in humans. It may or may not itch in cats, so we really don't know about this guy.

      • You could be right Kitty about cats not caring about it, but we do know that cats often don't give us much in the way of clues if they are in discomfort or pain.

        • It's true for the pain even though there are sometimes subtle signs like eating less, withdrawing or not grooming. But as people whose cats had fleas would tell, the itchy cats were scratching or licking the spots. I didn't see any of it, did you see it in your cat?

    • Thanks Eva for your kind words. Ringworm definitely itches under certain conditions. Ringworm as bad as this must lead to some discomfort at various times. Also of course Aasha was being bullied and was caged. A miserable existence for a tiger.

  • " she must have been in a considerable amount of discomfort due to the ringworm infection. "
    This isn't necessarily the case. Ringworm doesn't normally results in itching for cats. I don't see why it'd be different for tigers. From VCA article on feline ringworm "These lesions are not usually itchy".

    My two cats when they were kittens had ringworm. They didn't care about it, it was more of an issue for me with all the cleaning I had to do in addition to treating the cats and trying to protect myself. By the kittens themselves didn't even notice the lesions.

    • Point taken, Kitty, but from my experience of ringworm (I got it from my late boy cat and it itched especially when rubbed) and the fact that Aasha was covered in it, it is reasonable to suggest that she was in some discomfort.

      • It's always itchy in humans, but it's much less likely to itch in cats though it's possible. Did your cat behave like it bothered him? Did he try to constantly rub the spots, scratch them?

        I might've gotten one spot from my cats too, it's not clear because for me it was just a red spot, not typical ringworm. It itched a lot, it went away after about a week of my putting some anti-fungal cream on it. But my cats didn't seem bothered at all even though they had multiple spots -- all over the face, on the ears and feet. They were kittens, and they behave completely normally. I had to fight to keep them from getting on my head.

        • As I recall my boy cat with ringworm on his tail would occasionally knibble at it. The thing about cats though is that they don't give us much in the way of clues if they are in discomfort.

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