Mange is caused by microscopic mites. These mites often live on animals' bodies without a problem, as healthy bodies keep the population in check. However, if a cat is ill or stressed, the population can rise and lead to problems. Lindane kills mites, but also has some side effect risks.
What Is Mange?
Mange's medical name is demodicosis or demodectic mange. It is caused by microscopic mites. These mites are actually common on animals' skin, but don't usually result in symptoms. However, when an animal's body is producing excess hormones or oils, or his immune system is compromised due to illness or stress, the mite population can take over and lead to skin and hair problems. PetMD notes that mange in cats is rare, but Siamese and Burmese cats are at higher risk.
What Is Lindane?
Lindane is an insecticide that's been used in the United States for over 60 years, mostly in agriculture but also to treat parasites. Lindane is available in cream and shampoo forms, and is used on many kinds of animals, including cats. It works to kill existing mites; it doesn't prevent a cat from getting mange.
The Lindane Education and Research Network lists lindane as a carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance. The group bases its findings on reports of liver, endocrine, lung and other cancers in animals. It also note that lindane is poisonous if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Recorded animal side effects of lindane use include increased respiration, restlessness, salivation, convulsions, collapse and death.
Treatment and Prevention
PetMD says that in about 90 percent of cases, mange resolves on its own. If it doesn't, a vet visit is in order to learn the best way to deal with the problem—and whatever condition caused it. Your vet will probably recommend lindane only if your cat can't tolerate the more common treatments. When lindane treatment is indicated, apply it only once, and follow instructions to the letter. Followup care includes microscopic exams, and a healthy, clean and stress-free environment for your kitty.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.