Mange in Cats: What You Need to Know

Many animals, including cats, suffer from mange, a skin condition. It is brought on by small mites, parasites that reside under the skin and cause inflammation, peeling, hair loss, and itching.

For your cat, mange can be highly painful and contagious, so it’s critical to detect the symptoms and get treatment as soon as possible.

Types of Mange in Cats

Depending on the type of mite involved, many types of mange can affect cats. Among the most typical ones are:

Types of Mange in Cats
  • Canine scabies: A kind of mange brought on by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei is also known as sarcoptic mange. This mite penetrates the skin and leaves behind crusty sores, a great deal of irritation, and inflammation.

    Dogs are more frequently affected with canine scabies, but cats who come into contact with an infected dog can also contract the condition. Humans can contract canine scabies, which can result in rashes or itching.

    By collecting a skin scrape or biopsy and studying it under a microscope, canine scabies can be identified. A negative result does not, however, rule out the infection because the mites might occasionally be difficult to identify. Sometimes the diagnosis is determined by how well a patient responds to treatment.
Canine scabies
  • Notoedric mange: The condition, is also known as feline scabies, is brought on by the Notoedres cati mite, which burrows into the skin and lays eggs. This type of mange is highly contagious and can be transferred directly from cat to cat.

    Strong itching, especially on the feet, face, neck, and ears, is the predominant symptom. Crusty, scaly, red, and inflammatory skin conditions are possible. A dry, crumbly discharge may also be present in the ears.

    Additionally, a skin scraping can be used to diagnose it by looking at it under a microscope.

    Notoedric mange is rare in cats and common in tropical and subtropical regions.
Notoedric mange
  • Ear mites: Otodectes cynotis, an ear canal mite that consumes ear wax and other detritus, is the reason behind ear mites, commonly known as otodectic mange.

    Ear mites are highly contagious and can be passed from cat to cat by grooming equipment or direct contact. Itching, scratching, shaking, and rubbing of the ears can all be brought on by ear mites.

    “Ear mites may cause a temporary itchy rash on susceptible people if there are infested pets in the household”, states Malcolm Weir, DVM, from VCA Hospitals.

    A dark brown or black discharge that resembles coffee grounds may be present in the ear canal.

    The head, neck, and tail are some other body parts that ear mites can infest. By using an otoscope to check inside the ear or by taking an ear swab and studying it under a microscope, ear mites can be identified.

    Ear mites are common in cats and more prevalent in outdoor or shelter cats.
Ear mites
  • Demodectic mange: It is brought on by the Demodex cati or Demodex gatoi mite, which is found in the skin’s sebaceous glands and hair follicles. These mites are often inconspicuous and few, but if the cat’s immune system is weakened or impaired, they may become a problem.

    Demodectic mange, particularly on the face, neck, and legs, can result in hair loss, scaling, redness, and inflammation of the skin. Dogs are not susceptible to Demodex gatoi, but other cats are.

    By obtaining a deep skin scrape or an ear swab and studying it under a microscope, demodectic mange can be identified.

    Demodectic mange is uncommon in cats and more prevalent in young or immunocompromised cats.
Demodectic mange
  • Trombiculosis: The larval stage of a mite called Trombicula alfreddugesi, which clings to the skin and feeds on blood and tissue fluids, is what causes trombiclosis, popularly known as chiggers.

    Although they cannot spread from one animal to another, chiggers can be acquired through the environment, particularly in grassy or wooded regions.

    Particularly on the ears, cheeks, belly, and legs, chiggers can cause severe itching, skin redness, swelling, and crusting. Finding the orange-red mites on the skin or taking a skin scraping and looking at it under a microscope can both be used to identify chiggers.

    Trombiculosis is rare in cats and more prevalent in outdoor or rural cats.
Trombiculosis
  • Fur mites: A mite by the name of Lynxacarus radovskyi[1] that lives on the hair shafts, particularly close to the cat’s hind end, is the reason behind fur mites, also known as lynxacariasis.

    Fur mites are not highly contagious between cats, but they can be transmitted by grooming or sharing bedding. Fur mites can cause itching, hair loss, scaling, and rust-colored or salt-and-pepper coat.

    Additionally, it can be identified by removing a few hairs and microscopically inspecting them.

    Fur mites are rare in cats and more prevalent in tropical or subtropical regions.
Fur mites

Causes of Mange in Cats

Cats typically contract mange after coming into contact with sick animals or contaminated habitats. Several elements can raise a cat’s risk of developing mange, including:

Causes of Mange in Cats
  • Contact with other infected animals: Different parasite mite species that cause mange can spread from cat to cat through grooming equipment or direct touch.

    Some mite species are highly contagious and can infect both people and other animals, including Notoedres cati (feline scabies), Demodex gatoi, Otodectes cynotis (ear mites), and Cheyletiella blakei (walking dandruff).

    Cats are therefore more prone to contract mange from other cats if they socialize with them outside of their own home or share bedding or clothing with them.
  • Outdoor exposure: Outside, especially in grassy or forested regions, your cat could come into contact with mites that reside there. Chiggers (Trombicula alfreddugesi), for instance, are larval mites that cling to the skin and feed on blood and tissue fluids.

    They can be caught from the environment but are not spread by other animals.

    Similarly, fur mites (Lynxacarus radovskyi) are uncommon mites that inhabit the hair shafts, usually close to the cat’s tail. Although they are not particularly contagious among cats, they can be spread through grooming or sharing bedding.

    In tropical or subtropical areas like Hawaii or the Florida Keys, fur mites are more common. Cats who spend a lot of time outside or who reside in rural regions are therefore more prone to come into contact with these mites and get mange.
  • Weakened immune system: Mange can also develop in cats whose immune systems have been impaired or weakened by conditions including stress, starvation, disease, trauma, or old age.

    As a result, the cat may become more vulnerable to infections from mites that ordinarily dwell without harm on the skin or in the hair follicles.

    Demodex cati, for example, is a species of mite that typically lives in small numbers on cats but can be problematic if the cat’s immune system is compromised. Demodectic mange, particularly on the face, neck, and legs, can result in hair loss, scaling, redness, and inflammation of the skin.

    Therefore, cats that are not well fed or have a weak immune system are more prone to develop mange.
  • Others: Numerous factors, including living in crowdy or unsanitary environments, having a genetic predisposition for mite infestation, and others, can put cats at risk of contracting mange.
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Diagnosis of Mange in Cats

A veterinarian can identify mange in cats based on the signs, a physical exam, and skin scrapings or biopsies. The veterinarian will examine the skin samples under a microscope to check for mites or their eggs.

Sometimes, other tests may be needed to rule out other skin conditions or infections that may have similar symptoms.

Treatment of Mange in Cats

A veterinarian can identify mange in cats based on the signs, a physical exam, and skin scrapings or biopsies. The veterinarian will examine the skin samples under a microscope to check for mites or their eggs.

Treatment of Mange in Cats
  • Applying topical, oral or injectable medications to kill the mites and prevent secondary infections.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting the cat’s environment and bedding
  • Isolating the cat from other animals until cured
  • Treating any underlying health issues that may have contributed to the mange

Prevention of Mange in Cats

Mange in cats can be prevented by taking some simple steps, such as:

  • Keeping your cat indoors or limiting its contact with other animals
  • Providing your cat with a clean and comfortable living space
  • Feeding your cat a balanced and nutritious diet
  • Regularly checking your cat’s skin and ears for signs of mites
  • Consulting your veterinarian about preventive treatments or vaccines for mites

FAQs

Is mange in cats contagious to humans?

Certain cat mange conditions, such canine scabies and ear mites, can be transmitted directly from cats to people. When the source is eliminated, they typically only produce minor symptoms like itching or redness. Wear gloves when handling your cat, wash your hands completely after contact, and see a doctor if you experience any skin issues to prevent contracting mange from your cat.

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How long does it take to cure mange in cats?

The type of mite, the degree of infestation, and the reaction to medication all affect how long a cat has to receive mange treatment. Typically, the mites must be entirely removed and the skin must heal for many weeks to several months. Carefully adhere to the recommendations of your vet, and keep a close eye on your cat’s development.

Can I use home remedies for mange in cats?

Home remedies including apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and tea tree oil have been touted as effective ways to treat cat mange. There is, however, no proof that these treatments work or are secure for cats.

Conclusion

Several parasite mites that burrow beneath the skin and cause irritation, hair loss, scabbing, and inflammation are the source of the skin ailment known as mange, which can affect cats.

Mange in cats can cause them to suffer greatly, and it can potentially spread to people and other animals. So it’s imperative to be aware of how to identify and treat cat mange.

If you notice any mange symptoms on your cat’s skin, get them to the vet as soon as possible. The veterinarian will be able to determine the type of mange and provide the most effective treatment. With the appropriate care and medication, your cat can get rid of the mange and restore healthy skin.

References:

  1. Lnyxacarus radovskyi | American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists. (n.d.).

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