Scabies. The word alone is enough to make you shudder in disgust, and for good reason. It spreads easily from cat to cat -- and sometimes cat to dog or cat to person. Recognizing the symptoms of feline scabies means catching the infection early, before it affects your entire household.
It begins with an itch. And then your cat begins to scratch. His hair falls out from his ears, face, neck and anywhere else the mite spreads. Ookey crusts form over the infected areas, the cat's skin gets thick and lesions form and spread. By this time, it's impossible not to notice there's a severe problem.
What causes the nasty symptoms associated with feline scabies? It all boils down to a mite: the Notoedres cati. And just a heads-up -- this bad boy can infect you as well as your cat, so it's important to take action as soon as scabies symptoms appear. This mite uses a cat's skin like its personal playground, burrowing beneath and creating tunnels in which to lay its eggs. When they're ready, the eggs hatch and return to the surface. All this digging around in the skin and laying eggs creates an itching sensation and lesions. The more your cat scratches, the worse the skin gets.
Don't wait for scabies symptoms to get worse before seeking help. As soon as you suspect a problem, take your cat to an experienced veterinarian. He'll look over your cat and ascertain whether the symptoms indicate scabies or another skin-related ailment. To be sure, he'll take skin scrapings -- don't worry, it doesn't hurt your cat -- and look at them for signs of the mite.
Letting your cat deal with the symptoms of scabies on his own won't just make him miserable; it will torpedo his health and possibly prove lethal. Only your veterinarian can devise a plan for ridding your cat of scabies, but in general, the go-to treatment consists of giving kitty lime-sulfur dips. What's left of his coat might need shaved down, in really bad cases, and the vet may suggest thoroughly cleansing the skin with a mild shampoo prior to getting dipped.
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