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How to treat cat mites?

Ginger cat scratching his neck
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Mangy cat? Cat mange is an infestation of mites, tiny parasites that live in a cat’s skin or ears. It’s important to treat cat mites quickly.

By G. John Cole

Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:52

They can get passed from cats to humans, and mite eggs can hide out for months at a time before hatching. You need to get your cat mange cleared up as thoroughly as possible.

When a cat suffers from mites, it tends to scratch itself to get rid of them. Over-itching results in soreness and wounds that are vulnerable to infection. Before you know it you’ve got a mangy cat – and you’re in danger of becoming mangy, too!

What are cat mites?

There are two main types of cat mites. Ear mites live in your cat’s ear canal. They bite, which causes itching and soreness. Burrowing mites burrow into a cat’s skin and eat away at it. This can also lead to severe skin soreness and hair loss.

How do I know my cat has mites?

Noticing that your cat has become mangy (sore and patchy-furred) is a bit of a late reaction. To catch cat mites in good time, look out for moggy’s behaviour. If the creature scratches its ears a lot or rattles its head as if to shake out tiny parasites, guess what… it could have tiny parasites!
So if you notice anything odd about your cat’s ears, put on your protective mask and get up close for a look.

Scabs, reddish-brown dirt, or a black crust can all be signs of mites. Next, take your cat to the vet, who will look even closer – with an otoscope (ear microscope). She will be able to see the individual mites. Try not to form an attachment to them, because they gotta go.

It’s worth keeping an eye on your other pets, including your children, for signs of mites. If one animal shows symptoms of mites, get the whole zoo checked out. Otherwise, the parasites will keep returning.

Treating cat mites

If your vet spots mites under that otoscope, she’ll probably give your cat’s ears a quick clean to get rid of the visible debris. But after that, it’s on you.

When you get home, clean out your cat’s ears thoroughly. Be careful, because those hearing instruments are delicate pieces of technology, probably developed by an evil genius in a Frankensteinian laboratory a long time ago. 

Get a bowl of cold water and add a little hot to take the chill off it. Add some ordinary soap. And then gently wash out your cat’s ears, being careful not to push downwards (this can help the mites get even deeper, or damage kitty’s lugholes).

Only when moggy’s ears are clean should you think about medication. Approved ear mite treatment usually contains insecticide to kill the pests. You can get it over the counter, but your cat’s vet may prescribe you stronger stuff.
Cat mite medicine comes as ear-drops, which you can drip into the lug holes and then massage in to get the full benefit.

You’ll do this several days in a row, before taking a break to see if it’s been effective. Ear mites can live in the fur around the ears, so you may have to deal with migrating mites each time you wipe a batch out. It can take several turns of this treatment to get rid of them altogether.

Treating burrowing mites

If you spot signs of burrowing mites on your cat’s skin, you should contact the vet urgently. There’s not much the vet herself can do, but she will confirm whether mange genuinely is the problem, and if so she can recommend the precise treatment that’s best for your cat. She might even prescribe you a particularly strong treatment if those mites are really chewing up your moggy.

Burrowing mite treatment usually involves shampoo or anti-parasitic cream. It’s best to take action as soon as possible to stop the parasites spreading. 

The best thing is to write out your last will and testament, then give your cat a bath with the medicinal shampoo your vet recommended.

Out-of-control burrowing mites can effectively eat your cat to death. That is to say the damage they do can become infected and cause your pet much more serious problems than a little hair loss or a few sores. So you can imagine how important it is to deal with this quickly, for your cat’s sake and for all the other critters, human or otherwise, in your home.