While not as common as in dogs, scabies can also affect cats. This highly contagious skin condition is caused by microscopic mites that burrow into the skin, causing intense itching, inflammation, and hair loss.
Types of Scabies :
Two main types of scabies can affect cats:
Feline Scabies (Notoedric Mange): Caused by the Notoedres cati mite, this is the most common type of scabies in cats. The mites burrow into the skin, causing severe itching, crusting, and hair loss.
Ear Mites (Otodectic Mange): Caused by the Otodectes cynotis mite, this type of scabies affects the ears of cats. The mites cause irritation and inflammation, leading to excessive scratching and head shaking.
Symptoms of Scabies in Cats:
The symptoms of scabies in cats can vary depending on the type of mite and the severity of the infestation. However, some of the most common symptoms include:
This is often the first and most obvious symptom. Cats may scratch themselves excessively, leading to hair loss and open sores.
This can occur in patches or all over the body. The areas most commonly affected are the ears, head, neck, elbows, hocks, and belly.
Red, inflamed skin: The skin may appear red, thickened, and crusty.
Blisters and pustules: In severe cases, the skin may develop blisters and pustules.
Cats with ear mites may have a black or brown discharge coming from their ears.
Cats with ear mites may shake their heads excessively.
Treatment of Scabies in Cats:
The goal of treatment is to kill the mites and relieve your cat’s symptoms. Treatment options may include:
These are applied directly to the skin and kill the mites on contact.
These are taken by mouth and kill the mites from the inside out.
These are used to treat secondary skin infections.
These help to reduce inflammation and itching.
It is important to treat all cats in the household simultaneously to prevent re-infection. Treatment may need to be continued for several weeks to ensure that all the mites are killed.
Preventing Scabies in Cats:
There are a few things you can do to prevent scabies in your cat:
Keep your cat indoors: This will help to prevent them from coming into contact with other infected animals.
Use a monthly flea and tick preventative: Some flea and tick preventatives also kill mites.
Wash your hands thoroughly after handling an infected animal.
Clean and disinfect your cat’s bedding and toys regularly.
Prognosis for Cats with Scabies:
With prompt diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis for cats with scabies is good. However, if left untreated, scabies can lead to serious complications, including secondary skin infections and pneumonia.
American Veterinary Medical Association: Scabies in Cats: https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/ear-mites-tiny-critters-can-pose-major-threat
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline scabies: https://journal.ipb.ac.id/index.php/hemera/article/view/23936/15606
Merck Veterinary Manual: Mite Infestation (Mange, Acariasis) of Cats: https://www.merckvetmanual.com/ear-disorders/diseases-of-the-pinna/mite-infestations-in-animals
Remember, if you suspect your cat has scabies, it is important to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to begin treatment.