You're probably heard the disparaging term "mangy mutt," but canines aren't the only victims of mange. While mange doesn't occur as often in felines as in dogs, cats can pick up mange mites. Your vet will recommend a miticide to get rid of those nasty creatures and restore Kitty's skin.
The primary mange mite to affect felines is Notoedres cati. This mite can also infect you, although the result is usually just temporary itching and some red bumps. Cats with mange, also known as scabies, are very itchy. While the primary sign of mange is hair loss, especially on the neck and head, some cats might suffer from secondary skin infections from constant scratching. Kitty's skin might also thicken and become wrinkled. Your vet confirms the presence of mange mites from a skin scraping. Since mange mites are so contagious, if one cat in your household is infested you'll have to treat all of them, even if the other cats show no symptoms.
Lime Sulfur Dips
Just from the name, you know your cat isn't going to be too happy about undergoing a lime sulfur dip, prescribed by your vet. And he'll need bathing with a gentle shampoo beforehand. If you don't feel comfortable or safe bathing and dipping Kitty, ask your vet if she has a technician or can recommend a groomer to do the deed. Use gloves if you're dipping the cat yourself. Your vet will tell you how often your cat needs dipping. It might be as often as once a week until the infected areas clear up. Although it's called dipping, wiping is a more appropriate term. Don't get the dip into the cat's mouth, eyes, nose, ears or private parts, as it could sting. The upside of using the dip is that there are few, if any, side effects.
If you have a dog, you might give him monthly chew tabs for heartworm prevention. It's likely that the medication consists of ivermectin, a broad-spectrum dewormer. Ivermectin also gets rid of mange mites in cats, not by killing them immediately but by paralyzing them. You can purchase ivermectin over-the-counter, but not specifically in a feline formulation. It is much better and safer to get the product from your vet. While ivermectin is relatively safe if given at the correct dosage, overdosing a feline can be quite dangerous. Potential side effects of ivermectin, even given at the proper dosage, include vomiting and diarrhea. Signs of overdosing include blindness, disorientation, yowling and tremors. Your vet will determine the dosage based on Kitty's weight. According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, sudden death has been reported in kittens given ivermectin.
If you want to rid your cat of mange and protect him from fleas, ticks, earmites, heartworms and other intestinal parasites, ask your vet about prescribing selamectin, sold under the brand name Revolution. Selamectin is closely related to ivermectin. This topical monthly treatment comes in a tube. You open the tube and empty the contents onto his skin between his shoulder blades, where he can't lick it. Side effects are generally minor, consisting of hair loss in the area where the medication was applied. Kitty must test negative for heartworm infestation via a blood test before your vet can prescribe selamectin.
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.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.