What Causes Mange in Cats?

A mange mite infestation can be quite itchy for your kitty.

A mange mite infestation can be quite itchy for your kitty.

Although somewhat uncommon in cats, mange is a condition that results from an infestation of mites. These nasty little parasites cause lots of itching and redness for your fur kid's skin. Give your kitty some relief from these pests by bringing her to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Mange Mites

Mites are microscopic parasites that live on your kitty's skin and in her coat. Some of these mites, like Sarcoptes scabiei and Notoedres cati, are not normally found on her skin and they are highly contagious to other cats. Others, like demodex mites, are usually found in small numbers on her skin and don't cause any issues. Unfortunately, these little demodex mites can multiply quickly if a dog's immune system is compromised by an underlying medical condition. Left unchecked, all types of mites cause a condition known as mange in cats. Mange results in intense itching, skin lesions, patches of hair loss and bacterial skin infections for your little one if she isn't treated to rid her of these pests.

The Vet Visit

If you notice that your little buddy is scratching away at her skin and her fur looks patchy from hair loss, bring her to a vet right away to properly diagnose her condition. While mites may be to blame, many other types of skin issues, like allergies, bacterial or fungal infections and fleas could be the culprit. To diagnose your fur kid, the vet will take a skin scraping and a hair sample to study under a microscope. If mites are present, he'll prescribe a medication and give you a treatment schedule to follow to rid your kitty of the microscopic pests plaguing her. Depending on the type of mite, he may also check your little one for any underlying medical conditions she is suffering from that could make her more susceptible to developing a mite infestation.

Treatments

There are several treatments available to treat mites on your cat, including medicated shampoos, dips, creams and other topical medications. Depending on your kitty's particular case, your vet may prescribe one or more of these treatments to rid your little one of the pests causing her discomfort. If the mites have caused secondary bacterial or fungal infections, the vet will prescribe additional medications to treat these as well. He may also prescribe a topical medication to relieve your cat's itching during the treatment period.

Following the Treatment

Speak with your vet and ask him any questions you have about how to administer any of the medications he has prescribed for your kitty. Some dips can stain fur and carpets, so use gloves when applying them and keep your fur ball in a bathroom while she dries. Be sure to follow up with your vet as he recommends, usually every two weeks, to check on the progress of the treatment for your furry friend.

Cautions

Take care when handling your kitty if she has been diagnosed with mange. Mange mites can infect people, causing skin rash. While mites don't usually survive for long on human skin, they're certainly not something you want to have to deal with. Wear gloves when handling your cat or applying topical medications to her skin, and always be sure to wash your hands after petting her. Advise any children in your home to do the same. Isolate your kitty if you have a multiple-cat household to prevent her from inadvertently spreading the mites to them. Have all your four-legged friends checked by the vet for mites as a precaution, since the mites can be so contagious.

Prevention

Keep your kitty indoors to prevent contact with other, possibly mite-infested, cats. Bring your cat to the vet for her annual or twice-yearly exams to monitor her for any underlying health conditions that can make her vulnerable to a mite infestation, such as diabetes. Speak to your vet about vaccinating the cat for feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus, which can compromise the immune system. Wash all of your cat's bedding and vacuum your home thoroughly to eliminate any mites left in her environment from reinfecting her. Some prescription monthly topical flea preventatives, like selamectin, prevent and eradicate mites. Talk to your vet about what types of these medications could be appropriate for your little one.

 

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.

Photo Credits

  • scratching cat image by Lucid_Exposure from Fotolia.com