Do Cats Carry Mites?

Your cat's itchiness may be more than just dry skin.
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Mites are small, crab-like parasites that invade Kitty's ears or skin, causing intense itching and a host of distressing symptoms. These tiny pests can live on your furbaby for days, engorging on your pet's oils, waxes and dead skin. Your vet can diagnose and treat Kitty's uninvited mite guests.

Ear Mites

Your cat's ears can play host to a number of eight-legged parasites, but the most common are Otodectes cynotis mites. Thriving on Kitty's wax and oils that build in the ear canal, these mites are barely visible, but can wreak havoc on the ears and skin. Your cat is more likely to get ear mites from being outdoors or from direct contact with another infected pet in the home. Common signs of ear mites in cats include head shaking, strong odor, rubbing or scratching of the ears, scabs or scratches near the ears, or infections of the ears or surrounding skin, according to the ASPCA. If you suspect that your cat has maddening mites, your vet may prescribe ear drops or topical cream to begin the eradication process.

Feline Scabies

Feline scabies, otherwise known as Notoedres cati, is a contagious skin disease that causes intense itching and skin problems. With your poor kitty's incessant scratching, you can expect the skin to become raw and inflamed. Thick yellow or gray crusts around the edges of the ears, neck and face mean Kitty has scabies, but scabs and wrinkled skin can also appear on your cat's genitalia and paws. Most often, your cat's mites have been transmitted by another infected animal. If your vet suspects that your cat has feline scabies, he may recommend lime-sulfur dips every seven to 10 days until the mites have been eliminated.


Trombiculosis is a type of mange caused by the Trombiculidae family of parasitic mites in the larval stage. These mites look similar to tiny spiders, jumping onto their host as your cat lounges outdoors on the ground or as he walks in high-risk areas. These orange-colored dots are sedentary when attached to your feline, usually found in clusters on the head, belly, feet or ears. You may suspect trombiculosis if your otherwise healthy cat experiences redness, hair loss, bumps or skin crusts. Your vet may take skin scrapings to obtain evidence of mite larvae, and prescribe a general treatment for mange. She may also prescribe antibiotics to treat any secondary infections caused by bite or scratch wounds due to your cat's excessive itching.

Walking Dandruff

The most common type of walking dandruff in felines are Cheyletiella blakei mites. Walking dandruff is extremely contagious, often passed from animal to animal. According to The Merck Manual for Pet Health, the regular use of insecticides can be beneficial in controlling the mites that cause walking dandruff. The most common signs of these eight-legged parasites is infestations and scaling of the skin. Cats who have become infested with the mites often develop intense itching, skin crusts and tiny bumps that plague their back. It's important to seek treatment from your vet if you suspect that your cat has walking dandruff, as humans are frequently infested. In many cases, the treatment for ridding your cat of these mites is a weekly insecticide dip.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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