Mange in Cats
Mange is an incredibly common ailment for dogs of all breeds, but is somewhat less common for cats. However, it is very similar in its causes, symptoms, and treatments. It’s fairly rare for cats to develop mange, likely because they bathe themselves frequently, but it’s not necessarily the end of the world if your cat does end up showing mange symptoms.
Catch mange early and it poses no real health risks or long-term adverse effects.
The best way to keep your cat safe from mange is to understand how to identify it, and what to do if symptoms present themselves. With that in mind, here’s a closer look at mange in cats.
Causes of Mange in Cats
Mange is a skin disease that causes inflammation, itching, and other irritation to your cat’s skin. It is caused by Demodex or Sarcoptic mites, which strangely enough are often present in your pet’s fur with no negative consequences.
Mange only develops if your cat has a problem with his immune system or if his body begins to produce hormones or oils in excess; when either of these things occurs, the mite population is able to grow unchecked. Once the mange mite population crosses a certain threshold, your cat will begin to experience problems with his fur and skin.
There is no specific reason one cat may develop mange while another may not. The mites that cause mange live on almost all cats, but only become a problem when your cat is experiencing some sort of unrelated health issue. Because mange in cats is relatively rare, veterinarians don’t know much about why exactly it develops or doesn’t develop beyond the fact that it happens when the mite population is allowed to grow unchecked.
There are two primary types of Demodex mites. One is related to immune disorders and other diseases, while the other is very contagious and can be transferred between cats that share space. Sarcoptic mites are dominated by a single specie. Your veterinarian can help you understand which type of mites you’re dealing with and recommend a plan that keeps all of your other animals as safe as possible.
A cat experiencing mange will show a variety of signs of discomfort. It may be restless, lying down only to get back up again and relocate. Mange is also associated with itching and scratching. However, the most noticeable symptom of mange is patchy hair loss, mostly on the face and ears. Mange in cats can also cause symptoms in humans; interacting with a cat infected with mange could leave your hands or arms covered in red bumps.
As with all medical issues, if you feel as though your cat is acting strange, it’s best to take a trip down to the vet. Because there are different types of mange mites that can infect a cat while still creating the same symptoms, it is critical that you know exactly which type of mange you’re fighting before you begin the treatment procedure. Mange mites in cats cannot be seen with the naked eye and require visual verification from a trained pet health professional.
Treating Mange in Cats
Dealing with mange in cats is a simple but involved process. First, use a topical disinfectant such as EcoSpot for Dogs (yes, you can use it on your kitty too.) Often, spraying the affected area with EcoSpot twice per day and allowing to dry can can solve the problem. Always continue treating even if you no longer have symptoms–the mites’ egg cycles can last 3 weeks or more. Should EcoSpot not work, you’ll need to give your cat medication that hopefully will kill the mange mites. The exact medication depends on the specific type of mites infecting the cat; while a shampoo and dip might clear out one type of mite, your vet might suggested medicine which needs to be applied orally, via injection, or topically.
All-natural solutions such as EcoSpot are often effective in treating mange without the need to expose your cat to toxic chemicals—be aware that some mange treatments for dogs are toxic to cats.
Killing mites isn’t a one-step process. Your cat will need an extended treatment of up to 4 weeks to completely clear out the mange infection and to kill all remaining mites and eggs. You may also need to discard your cat’s collar, toys, and bedding, just to prevent re-infection. You likely will not see positive results in your cat’s mange treatment for at least a week or more, even if all the mites are killed on the first treatment. Skin and fur need time to heal.
Mange is a frustrating problem, but it’s a curable condition. It is important to note, however, that mange in cats is often indicative of an underlying health problem; work with your veterinarian to identify health issues early and ensure your cat lives a long, healthy life.
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