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How to treat cat mange?

British short hair cat advice
© Pixabay

Cat mange or feline scabies refers to a skin disease caused by mites on a moggy’s skin. A severe mite infestation can have serious consequences for a cat

By G. John Cole

You need to know how to treat mange in cats because left unchecked, the infection could become fatal. Mites can also pass to other animals in your home, or even to humans. These plucky parasites are not picky.

Cat mange: what is it?

Cat mange is caused by a parasitic mite called the Notoedres cati. Sounds kind of noble, right? Unfortunately, there’s nothing noble about these little fellows. They attach onto a cat’s skin, mate, and then burrow down into the flesh. Well, maybe they do kind of sound like Roman emperors after all.
Naturally, this is all kind of itchy to your cat, who is likely to scratch its ears and other inhabited parts excessively. This can cause wounds, which become infected. The cat’s skin will develop little red pimples that become crusty and transform your cat into a little old man. It can spread all over moggy’s body, causing misery and – worse – shabbiness. The cat keeps on scratching until its fur comes off, leaving the wretched creature looking moth-bitten and ruined.

Symptoms of cat mange

The first sign of an impending mange problem is often noticed around the ears. Mites love to live in ear-holes, and your cat will scratch away at them or shake its head in an effort to exorcise them. You should act immediately before things get worse.

Have a look at your cat’s ears. Mites show up through the debris they leave behind. Brown, black, and red scabby dirt.
By the time it develops into mange, you will begin to notice sores and pimples on your cat’s skin. Especially around the legs, paws, and belly. The beast’s fur may become patchy or matted. It’s time to take kitty to the vet.

Diagnosis: scabies

Your cat’s vet will inspect the creatures ears and fur with an otoscope and other devices to see the mites close-up. She may also scrape samples from the critter’s skin and send them for testing. You can describe your cat’s symptoms to the vet to help her make a diagnosis.
If she declares that it’s mange/scabies, the first step is to isolate your cat. (You might also wanted to get the other pets and humans in your home checked out for mites). Only then can you begin the treatment process.

Treating cat mange

The first thing to do is to get rid of the mites. And even once you’ve got rid of them, it might take a few months for your cat’s skin and fur to get back to its previous glory.
The vet will advise you on the best steps to take. She may recommend an injection, and antibiotics or anti-inflammatories if the sores have become infected.
As for getting rid of the mites, it’s a case of shampooing and/or dipping your cat with specially prepared chemical formulas. 

You might need to clip the remaining hair around the infected parts of your cat. Then bathe the creature in lukewarm water with ordinary soap. If the cat has ear-mites too, you’ll need to flush the animal’s ears with soapy, tepid water. You can get ear drops over the counter, or stronger ones from the vet. These should be dripped in after your pet’s bath, and massaged in if possible. (By this point, your cat has probably armed itself with knives and nunchucks.)
If your cat’s mites are all over its body, you’ll need to dip the creature in lime sulphur once a week for two or three weeks. If you have other cats living with you, they should get the lime sulphur treatment too, as it’s likely the mites are hiding out on their bodies.

It may be possible to use a gel or cream named Selamectin instead of the dip, but check with the vet what is best.
Mites are good at hiding their eggs, which is why an initial sweep for the pests doesn’t always work. So whatever treatment you end up choosing for your cat, you’ll probably need to repeat it several times to ensure the problem is totally gone.