What's Mange In Cats, And How Do You Get Rid Of It?
What you need to know about this skin condition 🙀
Mange is a skin infection that affects animals and typically causes red, crusty skin (and sometimes tons of itchiness).
And while mange is more common in dogs, cats can also get this skin infection.
We reached out to Dr. Megan Conrad, a veterinarian working with Hello Ralphie, to find out more about mange in cats.
What is mange in cats?
Mange in cats is a parasitic skin disease caused by mites that live either in your cat's skin or in the hair follicles. Mites aren’t insects — they're more closely related to ticks and spiders.
There are several types of mites that cause mange, including scabies and demodex.
Scabies in cats
Caused by an infection from a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei, scabies is sometimes also referred to as sarcoptic mange. “The female mites burrow under the cat's skin and lay eggs there,” Dr. Conrad told The Dodo. “The eggs hatch and the resulting mites continue feeding on the skin.”
Cats can pick up these mites from another infected animal or from infected bedding.
Symptoms of sarcoptic mange can include:
- Extreme itchiness
- Reddened skin
- Hair loss
- Open sores on the skin
- Dark and thickened skin
“This type of mange can be highly contagious to other animals and can be transmitted to humans as well,” Dr. Conrad said.
Demodectic mange in cats
Demodectic mange (or demodicosis) is caused by an overgrowth of mites that infect your cat’s skin.
There are two types of demodex mites:
“Demodex cati mites can be present on healthy cats in small numbers but
are more likely to cause a problem with cats who have an underlying medical condition or a weakened immune system,” Dr. Conrad said. They aren’t highly contagious.
Demodex gatoi mites can also be found on healthy cats and are contagious.
Demodicosis in cats can be localized or generalized, meaning that they can either stay in one particular part of the body or spread all over.
Signs your cat has demodicosis include:
- Scaly, red skin
- Areas of hair loss
Depending on which mites are present, your cat may also be extremely itchy (this is more common when she’s been infected with the Demodex gatoi mite).
How to treat mange in cats
Treating mange involves both healing the affected skin and controlling the mites. Localized demodectic mange can sometimes resolve on its own, but it’s best to consult with your veterinarian.
“Generalized demodicosis and sarcoptic mange will need to be treated with medicated shampoos and/or dips, as well as possibly oral medications,” Dr. Conrad said.
Note: All treatments should be cleared with your veterinarian before using.
It’s also a good idea to treat any bedding, combs, crates, blankets or other items your cat uses often to make sure the mites don’t come back — for these, you can use any flea and tick spray.
How to prevent mange in cats
The best way to prevent mange is to keep your cat away from infected animals and their living areas, and maintain your cat's overall good health. “Keep your cat indoors as much as possible, and ask your vet about flea and tick prevention products that may also protect against mites,” Dr. Conrad said.
While mange in cats can be a nuisance, it’s definitely not the end of the world. With some easy treatment, your cat should be feeling much better in no time.
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