Notoedric Mange (Scabies) in Cats
Feline scabies, also called notoedric mange, is caused by the feline mite Notoedres cati. It infects cats similarly to sarcoptic mange mites in dogs. In fact, these mites are closely related. Continue reading to learn more about the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of scabies in cats.
What is Feline Scabies?
The Notoedres cati mite causes skin disease in cats. This can include intense itching that results in scabs and scales beginning on the ear tips, spreading to the face, and eventually covering the body if untreated. Similar to sarcoptic mange in dogs, Notoedres cati results in a large inflammatory response in the skin making the cat extremely itchy.
In the United State, Notoedric mange is rare, found only in localized regions such as Southern California, where it is found commonly. Veterinarians specialized in the field of dermatology may never see cats with this disease over their entire career.
Causes and Transmission of Feline Scabies
Notoedres mites spread easily by touch from cat to cat and can also spread to people, dogs, or rabbits. Like sarcoptic mange mites, they don’t live long off of their hosts and transmission is usually by direct contact from an infected host.
If your cat has been diagnosed or is suspected of having notoedric mange and anyone in your family gets itchy skin or a skin rash, contact your family doctor. Let them know about possible exposure to notoedric mange. Your family doctor will advise what next steps need to be taken.
Symptoms of Feline Mange
Cats often develop intense itching on the tips of their ears with crusts and scaly skin. The mite then spreads and involves the face. If left untreated, the crusts and scaling spread to cover the rest of the body of the cat.
Diagnosing Feline Scabies
Your vet will take a skin scrape of the affected areas and look at the sample under the microscope. Notoedres cati mites and their eggs are easier to detect than sarcoptic mange mites but similar to sarcoptic mange, a negative skin scrape does not rule out notoedric mange in a cat. Treating a cat for notoedric mange and monitoring response to treatment can be used to diagnose suspected cases.
Treatment of Notoedric Mange in Cats
As with sarcoptic mange in dogs, there are many safe options for treatment. Please note that you should never use a product labeled for dogs on cats, as the concentration and dosage are different and could have serious side effects. Always talk to your vet before giving or applying any medication to your pet.
Treatments include topical, injectable, and oral medications as directed by your vet. Examples include Bravecto, Revolution Plus, Revolution, Ivermectin, and Advantage Multi. These products are labeled and often recommended by veterinarians for flea treatment, prevention, and control. Be sure the product is labeled for cats and confirm with your vet that it is the appropriate dose for your cat’s age and weight.
Remember to treat all cats in the home, even if they aren’t showing any signs or symptoms.
Cats with severe symptoms of itching and inflammation may need additional prescription medications such as cortisone and antibiotics. Your vet will assess your cat and make necessary recommendations.
Dips and bathing are not recommended due to potentially serious side effects and the challenges and potential for injury associated with bathing cats.
Prevention of Feline Scabies
Apply or give flea products as instructed by your vet. There are many products that work to prevent infection of notoedric mange.
Practice good hygiene, wash or replace all bedding, beds, toys, harnesses, collars, and anything else that the cats sleep in/on using a dilute bleach solution (1 ounce of bleach mixed in 1 gallon of water).
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