Scabies (Mange) in Cats
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Mange or scabies is a skin disease caused by a microscopic ectoparasite. It can affect a wide range of animal species, including human beings, and is found worldwide. It is spread through direct contact, and produces a series of symptoms which make this an easily recognisable disease, and it normally has an easy solution.
As soon as you notice your pet displaying any symptom you need to take them quickly to your trusted vet, so that the corresponding tests can be performed and it can be treated as soon as possible. In this AnimalWised article we will focus on the symptoms and treatment of scabies in cats.
What types of mange affect cats, and what parasites cause them?
The ectoparasites that cause mange are mites, of which there are several species and subspecies that can act in different ways. Some mites burrow into the skin of the affected animal and feed on them, whereas others stay on the surface of the skin and feed on keratin.
Taking domestic cats into question, you'll find that the most common types of mange in cats are (from most common to least common):
- Notoedric mange, caused by Notoedres Cati. It only occurs in cats.
- Otodectic mange, or ear mange, caused by the Otodectes Cynotis mite. It usually occurs in cats, and occasionally in dogs.
- Cheyletiella or 'walking dandruff' can be confused with dandruff, but if you look closely you'll see how the mites move. It is caused by Cheyletiella Spp. It predominantly occurs in cats, and sometimes in dogs.
- Demodectic mange, caused by Demodex cati. It is mainly found in dogs (Demodex canis), but can occasionally affect cats.
Are any breeds particularly prone to this disease?
The answer is that no breeds have a greater propensity to contracting mange. As such, domestic cats of all breeds and ages can get mange when it is not predicted or treated.
Mange is always spread through direct contact with another animal infected with the mites that cause it, or even with objects that such animal can touch or use. As such, you need to pay close attention to the contact your cat may have with other animals that might be susceptible to carrying the disease; either because they live both inside and outside the home (they're in contact with the exterior) or because you've got an animal that already has the disease under the same roof.
If you notice that one of your animals has mange, you should separate the affected animal from the rest and start treatment (prescribed by the veterinarian), making sure that none of their garments or objects make their way to your other animals. You should also disinfect beds, food bowls, blankets and toys that may have been infested with mites.
Humans are rarely infected by this type of mange. The one exception is cheyletiella, which can infect human beings albeit temporarily.
As there are different types of mange produced by different types of mites, the symptoms can be very different. However, the most common and easily recognisable symptoms of mange in cats are the following:
- Restlessness. Your pet can't keep still or lie down to rest as a result of the discomfort caused by mites.
- Excess stinging, especially on the head and ears; the areas which mange attacks most. This stinging leads to abundant scratching and licking of the affected areas.
- Hair loss in affected areas.
- Redness of the skin and inflammation of the affected area, in addition to eczema and peeling of the affected skin.
- Wounds and scabs. The pet's uncontrollable scratching and licking can cause wounds and scabs that can become easily infected. As such, it is very important to follow the treatment given to you by the vet.
- In the case of ear mange, which affects the inner ear, you'll find an excess of dark earwax that can cause otitis. In extreme cases which spiral out of control, it can cause ear bleeding and a perforated ear drum.
Prevention and Treatment
You can get hold of different products from specialist shops or veterinary centres as forms of prevention against (and treatment for) many types of ectoparasites or external parasites. Some of these products are:
- Pipette or spot-on. Applied externally. It is usually applied on a monthly basis, but you should follow the instructions written on each product's information pamphlet.
- Pills, tablets, capsules and pastes. Internal treatment may be a combination against ectoparasites and endoparasites.
- Shampoos, aerosols, sprays, powders, eardrops, etc. Some products are: Sentry HC Earmite Free, Mita-Clear, etc. It is important to stress that the treatment collars used against parasites such as ticks and fleas do not usually work against mites. Therefore, it's important to make sure that the product you buy acts against mites, it you are wanting to prevent or treat mange.
A vet should oversee the prevention process and treatment of mange. Tests need to be performed which determine the type of mange and the degree of severity, in order to decide on the most effective course of treatment to get rid of it, whilst not being too aggressive for your cat.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Scabies (Mange) in Cats, we recommend you visit our Parasitic diseases category.