Sound the alarm: Violet has displayed symptoms of ringworm.
Yes, that Violet. Yes, that fungus.
Although it is Tabby’s Place’s answer to leprosy, ringworm isn’t deadly. As a matter of fact, I had it myself this past summer. (To answer your questions: On my chin. Yes, really. No, there are no extant photos. Yes, Jonathan begged me to blog about it. Yes, I refused. NO, THERE ARE NO EXTANT PHOTOS.)
So what’s the big deal? Why is ringworm notable enough to make us scream and swoon and merit a section of its own in our monthly recaps?
Although it sounds like something vile, vicious and pertaining to the gastrointestinal tract and/or heinie, ringworm is only vile and vicious. (I suppose it could pertain to the heinie if you were unfortunate enough to get it on your heinie, which seems possible yet peculiar.*)
Ringworm is neither a ring nor a worm. It does not crawl, it is not an animal, and you cannot go down, down, down into a burning ring of worm. For all the shudders we shiver when we discuss it at Tabby’s Place, “RW” is essentially just an ugly cousin of athlete’s foot. It exists in the environment and — here’s a Halloween-ready fact for you — is literally everywhere. You assuredly walked through clouds of ringworm today.
Yet you are still alive. You are not a giant red scab of hideousness. Small children don’t run from your countenance screaming “IT’S ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!” Fortunately, most of us — feline, human and otherwise — don’t get ringworm most of the time. (Another fun fact: technically, any mammal can contract ringworm. You. Me. Violet. The naked mole rat. The great blue whale.)
But when we do, it’s not pretty. If you like it, you do not want to put a ring(worm) on it. It’s a round red thing that itches like nobody’s business and makes itself everybody’s business for the sheer boldness of its ugliness. Exhibit A:
And for our feline readers, Exhibit B:
As you can see, it’s not the actual End Of The World. If you’re a human, a cocktail of Lamisil + shame will clear RW up within a few weeks. (Bonus if you work at Tabby’s Place: every time someone sees you, they will shriek, “YOU HAVE RINGWORM ON YOUR CHIN!!!” and reach for stakes and garlic.) It’s advisable not to rub your ringworm against other mammals, but as long as you can avoid that, you can remain in the general population.
If, however, you are a cat, your ringworm wants to rage. If you are a cat, you are about to stink, turn yellow, and go to the Land Of No People.
This is what makes ringworm so tragic for Tabby’s Place felines. Since the fungus spreads more easily than I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, cats with ringworm must be banished to a room we have creatively named “Ringworm.” For no fewer than six weeks — the time required to get three “all-clear” test results — cats with ringworm wait in Ringworm. Well, “wait” doesn’t sound so bad. They wait…and they get dunked in cold, rotten-egg-smelling, chartreuse yellow stench soda. (Technically it’s a lime sulfur dip. But I’ve petitioned the company to apply the more accurate title of stench soda.) White cats turn chartreuse. All cats turn stanky. No cats leave with their pride fully intact.
And there’s bonus shame for the humans, too. (Of course there is.) Any human beans wishing to visit Ringworm must scrub up and suit up like a surgeon, booties and cap and all, then flee Tabby’s Place without touching any other cats (or strip nekkid, shower, and set one’s clothes afire before returning).
Nobody dies from ringworm. But everybody involved wants to die of shame.
Which brings me back to this blog’s title: Nooooooooooo!
Not Violet. Not the cat who fills every void with her loud, proud, tummy-swinging sashay and “you WILL snuggle me” affection.
Karina — the brave soul who discovered the suspicious spot on Violet’s forehead — had a different reason for shouting Nooooooooooo! Karina is one of those death-defying staff members who gets to dip cats in stench soda. You may recall that Violet has proudly borne the nickname “Violent” ever since she required medication two years ago.
I despaired of Violet’s agony in Ringworm. Karina despaired of her agony at being annihilated by Violet in Ringworm. Despair was everywhere.
Until…Violet’s fungal culture came back. This simple test has the ability to bless or banish. One result is like a Publisher’s Clearing House mailing that’s actually true: Congratulations — YOU HAVE ALREADY WON NOT HAVING RINGWORM! The other result is…well, Nooooooooooo!
Suspicious red patch be darned — Violet did not have ringworm.
The best minds of CSI: Ringoes, NJ believe that Violet’s pink scaly area was no more than a bite wound from another cat. I am aghast; Violet would never, ever, ever do anything to merit a bite. (Other individuals disagree. Those individuals say that Violet has attacked cats. Those individuals are wrong.)
At any rate, the verdict was peace in the valley: no stench soda. No exile. No ringing of the worm.
The moral of this story: don’t borrow trouble. Imagine all the itching and agitating we could have avoided if we hadn’t imagined ourselves into a fungal future that never happened. Once again, the cats remind us: worry = dumb.
In closing, Violet would like to remind everyone reading this that she is the most beautiful feline at Tabby’s Place. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and have a gorgeous afternoon.
*Yes, “Possible Yet Peculiar” would make an excellent name for a bearded post-punk accordion band.