Our vet's office called this afternoon to tell us that the third and final cultures on our ringworm-stricken kittens are negative. Officially, we have a cure!
It took my brilliant professor husband quite a while to figure out why I was laughing so hard, even as I was waving it under his nose on my finger. Here was Our Enemy himself, Ringo the Ringworm, looking more like the Grinch than I had imagined.
Once I started breathing again, and threw myself into the cleaning and treatment routine, it began to seem almost normal. As normal as having cats who reek of gunpowder and embracing the design aesthetic of the Indian bedspread can be, that is. It certainly helped that we humans never caught it. And neither did the Persians, who are supposed to be very susceptible. I spent far too many hours reading all I could about "feline dermatophytosis," including a lot of garbage fiction on sites trying to sell me expensive sets of products promising to cure it in a few days but with no supporting studies or much information at all, except for brief, first-name-only testimonials.
Eventually I figured out who the vet experts are, and tried to follow their advice. The recommended treatment is stinky, potentially dangerous, time-consuming, and annoying. But our vet said it works. And apparently it does. Possum's nose is dazzlingly white again. A few tiny black spots remain on Wendy's ears, but they could be part of her calico patterning for all we know.
Naturally, I will be paranoid about ringworm for the rest of my life. Visiting cat shelters will feel like a dangerous excursion instead of like fun. Fostering kittens — a little fantasy I had — is entirely out of the picture. And I will soon begin worrying that the ringworm will recur — maybe near Wendy's incision, if we are really unlucky. Or a nasty-looking spot will show up on one of the other cats, some weeks or months from now. Or on us. Ringworm spores can live up to two years! But we did follow the treatment plan and it brought the desired lab results so, just for tonight, I'm going to try to relax and pretend it was all a very bad (and smelly, expensive, and exhausting) dream. Tomorrow, I'll get busy with all the new cleaning and worrying.
Ringworm may be out of the house but it will always linger in the back of my mind.