How to Kill Lice on Cats

Outdoor cats are more likely to pick up lice.

Outdoor cats are more likely to pick up lice.

When your cat scratches constantly, you probably think fleas are the culprit -- and you're probably right. You should also be on the lookout for feline lice, though, which are less common and require slightly different treatment. It's still curable and preventable, though, so don't worry about your little buddy.

Wash any linens that your cat comes in contact with, like bedspreads, pillow cases, plush toys and pet beds.

Treat your cat with a topical spray insecticide. The pet store should have insecticides formulated for feline lice -- look for ones with ingredients like carbaryl, rotenone or pyrethrins. Always follow the instructions on the package carefully.

Take your cat to the vet in the case of an extreme infestation. Your vet can administer a treatment like a lime sulfur dip that thoroughly coats your cat's skin and coat, killing adult lice. Whether you choose this treatment or at-home treatments, you must repeat your treatments every two weeks for a total of at least two treatments, as chemical treatments don't necessarily affect unhatched or young lice.

Administer monthly prevention treatments to your cat. Most monthly flea preventatives are effective against lice.

Items you will need

  • Topical spray insecticide
  • Monthly preventative treatments


  • Feline lice are different from human lice, so don't worry about protecting yourself from the parasites. Kitty can't transfer them to you.
  • Keep your cat indoors and away from unfamiliar cats, as feline lice is most common in wild or feral animals.

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About the Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

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