Cat Lice Identification

Cat Lice Identification

Cat lice can be seen with the human eye. However, it’s rare to see lice on a healthy cat. Cats that are young, old, have longer hair, are unable to groom themselves or are ill, tend to get them more often. You shouldn’t worry too much if lice are detected on your pet, as cat lice cannot be transmitted to humans.

Cat Lice

Lice are ectoparasites, meaning they live on the outside part of their host’s body, at the host’s expense. They are flat, wingless insects that are about 2 to 4 mm long and have triangular-shaped heads that are wider than their prothorax (mid-section). They have specialized claws on their 6 legs that are good at holding on tightly to a cat’s fur, but they can’t jump or fly. There is one type of louse that lives on cats, the Felicola subrostrata (from the suborder Mallophaga), which bites or chews on a feline’s skin, dry skin scales or scurf.

Female Felicola subrostrata, which are more commonly seen than males, live as an adult louse for only 30 days. During that time, she will lay several eggs every day on a cat, which will hatch in one or two weeks. Lice larvae have three nymphal stages, will molt three times and will be completely mature within three weeks. The lifespan of a louse is 6 weeks or less if it lives on a host. Without a host, a louse will die.

Identifying Cat Lice

Cat lice infestations happen more in environments that are unsanitary. Lice and their eggs are transmitted via direct contact. However, they can also be transmitted through the use of combs, brushes and other cat grooming tools that were not washed properly between uses. When lice infest a cat, they can typically be found on the neck, tail or head.

At first, lice may look like dandruff. But after looking at the speck closely, you’ll see that it’s tan in color with dark spots, and is moving. The main identifying factor of lice on a cat is the triangular shape of its head. However, it’s more common to see the eggs, or “nits”, than an actual louse. Lice will lay their eggs close to a cat’s skin. The eggs are small, like a poppy seed, and are usually clear. Lice saliva is so strong that it is used to stick eggs tightly to a cat’s hair shaft as if it were adhered with glue. If possible, a louse will spend its entire life on the same host.

Cat Lice Symptoms

A cat with lice problems will have a dry coat that will have flaky skin or dandruff coming off. As a result of the irritations, a cat may start losing its hair. If there are a lot of lice, a cat can become anemic. He will also feel itchy, as the area the lice reside on is irritated. Some cats will not be able to sleep, will feel nervous and will have a matted coat.

Cat lice can be as aggravating as fleas. Fortunately, flea shampoos can help eliminate lice from a cat’s body. Consult with your veterinarian for more treatment options when your cat has lice.

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Head Lice on Cats

Lice on cats , while one of the easier parasites to spot and treat, can be a hassle if you misdiagnose what they are or do not know how to get rid of them.

Cat Lice Transferring to Humans

When someone in the home contracts lice, a primary concern is whether or not the lice will spread to other members of the family. This includes from human to dog to cat and the other way around.

However, lice are species-specific and do not transfer from one another. Human lice will not live on a dog or cat. As such, if your cat has a case of lice, don’t worry because their lice can’t transfer to you.

What Lice Look Like

Lice are small insects, but can be seen without the aid of a microscope. They are generally bigger than fleas, wingless, and very flat. For this reason, they can be tricky to grab hold of with your fingers.

Nits, on the other hand, are tiny, round white balls. Nits are lice eggs and are found at the base of a hair shaft. These can sometimes be easier to spot then the lice themselves.

How Lice Is Transmitted

Lice is only transferred from infected to infected only. They do not survive in environments like fleas and ticks can and do. If your pet is primarily indoors and has no contact with other animals, the chance of it contracting lice is very minimal. Because of their inability to survive long off of their hosts, feline lice is quite rare.

What Lice Do

Lice are similar to fleas. There are several types of lice, but they can generally be put into two categories: blood-feasting lice, which bite the skin to feed on blood, and the «chewing» lice (called Mallophaga). Blood sucking lice (called Anoplura) can cause anemia in pets the same way fleas can, which in turn can lead to more serious problems in prolonged cases.

Symptoms of Lice

Excessive itchy and a ratty, dry coat are the primary signs of lice. You may mistake the infestation for fleas, so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with before giving treatment.

Aside from the itching and dry fur, you can check your cat’s fur for signs of the bugs themselves. However the eggs will be easier to spot in most cases; look for the oblong, flat insects, or the small white balls attached to individual hairs.

Treatment for Lice

Lice treatment is relatively easy, especially when compared to other external parasites. Also unlike other parasites (fleas, ticks) cat lice pose no threat to other species of animals in the house, or humans.

Purchase a shampoo containing pyrethrin that is approved specifically for cats and bathe them, letting the lather sit for the time allotted on the bottle’s directions. Afterwards, you can use a pyrethrin spray to help keep off the lice and kill any remaining.

See also:  17 Fast Acting Home Remedies for Flies that Effectively Repel Flies

Nits are sturdier than the bugs themselves and are difficult to get off of the hair shafts. For this reason, it’s wise to repeat treatment in 10 to 15 days to ensure you got everything, and monitor your cat in-between.

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Skin Mite Dermatitis in Cats

Most Common Symptoms

Skin Mite Dermatitis Average Cost

From 485 quotes ranging from $200 — 500

Average Cost

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What are Skin Mite Dermatitis?

Mange is caused by the microscopic parasite known as the mite. These very small parasites live on the skin and in the hair follicles of felines, but do not usually feed on the animal’s blood like other external parasites. In fact, some mites are considered normal residents of many mammalian species and their host’s immune system keeps them in balance, preventing them from taking over. However, when the immune system drops due to illness, one of the five species of mites takes over and skin mite dermatitis is soon to develop.

Skin mite dermatitis in cats is known to both the veterinary world and the general public as mange. Cats are highly susceptible to several types of mange, including demodicosis, trombiculosis, cheyletiellosis, otodectic and notoedric mange. Each form of mange is highly contagious, causing dermatitis symptoms of skin inflammation, alopecia, and pruritus. Mange commonly affects the very old, very young or otherwise unhealthy groups of felines, but other cats could be carrying the mange parasite with no sign of mange.

Symptoms of Skin Mite Dermatitis in Cats

Skin mite dermatitis is extremely pruritic to the feline and will cause the cat to scratch the skin vigorously. Depending on the species of mite affecting the feline, skin mite dermatitis might affect the ears, head, neck, abdomen, foot pads or entire body of the cat. If a feline is infected with ear mites, symptoms of head shaking, pawing at the ears, bloody ears (due to scratching), swelling of the ears and ear infections will all be noted. Mite species-specific symptoms of skin mite dermatitis in cats includes:

  • Feline Scabies: skin crusts and hair loss.
  • Ear mites: The inner ear will appear dirty with dark debris that resembles coffee grounds.
  • Walking Dandruff: dandruff-like skin crusts and small bumps along the skin.
  • Feline Demodicosis: hair loss and fluid-filled sores.
  • Trombiculosis: these mites can be viewed as orange ovals on the skin that are usually clustered together. Common symptoms include skin crusts, hair loss, skin bumps and redness.

Types

Trombiculosis

Trombiculosis is a type of mange caused by the larval-stage parasite known as Trombiculidae. Trombiculidae are one of the few mites that will feed on the feline around the abdomen, feet pads, ears and head. A cat can contract this parasite by laying in the dirt.

Feline Demodicosis

Feline demodicosis is a type of mange caused by either the Demodex cati mite or the Demodex gatoi mite. The demodex mite is often a normal, non-hazardous skin mite of the feline but can cause problems in sick cats.

Cheyletiellosis (Walking Dandruff)

Cheyletiellosis is commonly called walking dandruff due to the mite’s dandruff-like appearance. Cheyletiellosis is caused by the Cheyletiella blakei mite, which is a common parasite in multi-cat households.

Otodectic Mange (Ear Mites)

Otodectic mange is caused by the Otodectes cynotis mite, but this mite is commonly known as the ear mite since it only infests a feline’s ear.

Notoedric Mange (Feline Scabies)

Notoedric mange is caused by the Notoedres cati mite. Although quite rare, feline scabies is a highly contagious disease that causes the skin to crust, favorable to the upper portions of the body.

Causes of Skin Mite Dermatitis in Cats

Skin mite dermatitis in cat is caused by an infestation of a species of mite that is host-specific to felines. Trombiculidae, Demodex cati , Demodex gatoi, Cheyletiella blakei, Otodectes cynotis, or the Notoedres cati mite can all cause skin mite dermatitis in cats. Unlike other external parasites that spend half of their life cycle in the environment, mites spend their entire lives on their host. The only exception is the Trombiculidae mite, as this mite does live in the environment, infecting felines at their larval life. However, all other mites are usually transmitted to one feline to another through direct contact. Nursing queens often transmit skin mites to their kittens, causing skin mite dermatitis as kittens have a weak immune system. Multi-cat household and cats living in breeding facilities, pet stores, or shelters are at a high risk for contracting a type of skin mite.

Diagnosis of Skin Mite Dermatitis in Cats

Skin mite dermatitis in cat can be identified through the symptoms on a physical exam. Mites that are affecting the cat’s skin can be identified through the process of a skin scraping. A skin scraping is a simple test of scraping the top layer of the skin, removing particles to view underneath the microscope. Ear mites will require a swab of the ear and microscopic view for identification.

Treatment of Skin Mite Dermatitis in Cats

Some cats recover from skin mite dermatitis without treatment, but severe cases and cats that are in poor health must receive medical treatment to recover. A common treatment veterinarians use is a lime sulfur dip that the cat is dipped into approximately 1-2 times per week over a month’s time. Mites that are localized in the ears will need to be cleaned out and treated with prescribed drops.

Recovery of Skin Mite Dermatitis in Cats

The recovery outlook for a cat suffering from whole-body skin mite dermatitis depends on her overall health. Follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan and bring the cat back into the clinic if symptoms worsen, or you do not see an improvement. Preventing re-infestation of mites can be a challenge, but the best preventative method is keeping your feline’s environment clean and keeping her away from potential carriers.

Skin Mite Dermatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Hello. I took my cat to the vets in May. I thought they may have fleas since they have once before. I told the vet to check for mites as well since their was no fleas. All he did was check the ears not the body. I’m now so scared because my cats won’t stop itching and neither can I. I went to a basic web MD and they said I had scabies. My prescription worked but every time I sleep with my cats I wake up itching with more bites. Why would the vet not check for skin mites?

Unfortunately you have to DEMAND they do a superficial skin scraping and maybe a fecal sample sent into the lab. I went to four Vets and begged for this as BOTH my cats were itching n whining n scratching n I began itching too. terribly. Some vets want to do the least amount of work on a pet..why? I had to BEG for the diagnosis for mine. It was MITES! I knew it as I had to buy my own microscope, due to ZERO help. You’re paying them. SOFTLY DEMAND they do their jobs.

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I adopted a kitten let year for Christmas, about 2months after I brought him home I noticed a bald spot on his tail about the size of a quarter I knew it wasn’t fleas (they are treated every 28days with frontline) I found a lot of information that points to sarcoptic mange it is only on the back paws of both my pets which I found strange it’s stays the same as long as I continue to use the special shapmpoo and sulfer but never truely goes away

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I use some baby oil for itchy skin

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Cat has a bit of balding on the lower jaw with some black specks in that area. Doesn’t seem to be itching the location or much concerned with it. No visible bugs or any other abnormalities on the animal. Diagnosis?

You might check to see if it’s ringworm,it’s quite common in cats and those are some signs

Does your cat have plastic food/water bowls? If so switch to metal

Check out feline acne. My cat had the same thing when he was a kitten but simply outgrew it by the time he was a year old.

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I took my cat to the vet a couple weeks ago and she was diagnosed with ear mites. I got medicine, and have given it to her about three or four times (two drops each ear, every Monday and thursay) and am continuing to do so. The issue I’m having is that now on the second week she’s started scratching so bad she’s losing the hair around her ears. Why, and how do I stop it?

Ask the vet for Advantage Multi or Revolution. It controls internal and external parasites

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I’ve had my cat since he was a baby, hes never been around other animals since we’ve got him, and had never been outside. I noticed a couple days ago he had a big bald spot on his side and this morning I was checking to see if he had anymore. Well sure enough his fur on the back of his neck started balding. He doesn’t have any scabs,spots,or bleeding, but all hes been doing recently is scratching,licking, and winning to be held/rubbed. In the last couple weeks hes also been standing at the door meowing then if we dont open it he starts clawing at the door, eventually he stops. I dont know what he has thats making him act this way and making his hair fall out.

It sounds like it could be an allergic response, have you changed his food? His litter. a new cleaning product in the house or clothes detergent? If you’ve changed nothing have you brought something new in on your boots. there are also internal conditions that can cause this but I would rule out allergy first because of the symptoms fit, he probably wants to go out n eat or roll in the grass, you can buy him some cat grass and see what he does, but eliminate the allergen if possible many vets want to put them on steroids to treat, but it harms their body and can cause severe long term issues, so weigh it all out. Try to identify or rule out an allergy first, then eliminate the allergen from your home or treat for it n get him some kitty grass to help him, he may throw it up but it serves a purpose. Keep searching if it is not an allergy, your baby is telling you he needs your help

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I have three cats that all started to show signs of itching at the start of the summer last year to varying degrees. One of them has experienced spells where he is extremely itchy and stressed. He also has had crusty spots appear on and in his ears, head, back, tail and the backs of his lower back legs. Trips to the vet and skin scrapings have shown no parasites or anything else. Bathing has not had any effect and in the case of the one who seems to be worst has caused patches of hair loss in the days following the bath. Antihistamines and hypoallergenic food have had no effect. All three cats seem to have periods where they have been slightly better only to get extremely itchy again. Recently the worst affected cat has shown red inside his ears with small scabs and shakes his head if you stroke it. I’d appreciate any thoughts or advice

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Hi, my cat stays indoors and we let her out on the balcony (we live on the 33rd floor so no dirt is around) but I started noticing she has hair loss around her lower belly/sides. They’re on both sides of similar size and shape. And near her ears she has a yellow patch with black dots in the center. I go out of town frequently which is why it took me so long to notice it. We have a dog who obviously goes in and out a lot. Which at 1st is why I thought maybe fleas when I 1st noticed it. But now I’m thinking it could be something else.

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We are infested. Saw white specks moving on long haired black cat. Dandruff, hair loss, intense itching. The humans in the house also itching and being bit on legs and feet. Tried advantage then revolution then front line spray on cat and entire house (carpet couch etc). Vet bill of 500. Can’t find anything on my cat. At time of appt, white specks werent as active. Move most often in late evening. Vets claim they cant find anything. these tiny white specks are smaller than a flea. Someone help us. The itching is driving us all insane. went to doctor for my bites. Not scabies. So what is it.

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I have a kitten who is about 2 months old. When I got him, he had a bald spot behind one ear. When I checked, he had fleas so I treated it and thought it was maybe from scratching? The hair is starting to grow there but other much smaller spots have started to appear on his body and he actually has some black stuff in his ears and around his nose. So I am starting to wonder if it is mites or are they two seperate things? Also, I have to note, he doesn’t seem to be itching or shaking his head. Actually, he doesn’t exhibit any strange behaviour but is rather very active.

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I took in a 2 week old kitten whose mama got hit by a car, after the explosive bloody diarrhea bout we went through (I thought it could possibly be coccidia —I’m a vet tech— but waited a week and it clears up so it much have just been the drastic switch to formula from mamas milk, now that we are thru that I one consuming and constant disinfectant stage, for which I used mainly natural ingredients, the now 4-5 week old little one has developed crust around its ears, a small spot behind one ear and multiple spots down its tail, (almost at every vertebrae section) I am not currently at a clinic and don’t have a microscope to do a scraping but I know for a fact it’s not EAR mites. I grow a lot of natural antiseptic plants and have been using aloe on her for a day now and her hair has started falling out which i assume could be a sign of either healing or it getting worse. Any advice would help. I’ve never had such a young kitten while not working with a veterinarian.

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My elderly adult male has developed a condition on his right flank where his hair clumped into sections of hair that cannot be separated. Started in April with small patch (est. 2 inch square) and now covers much of his right side. No obvious causes, there appear to be small white and black specks when I pet the affected area. Cat is TNR that lives outside and cannot take to vet. Was very sick earlier this year with infection to face which resolved and he now appears healthy and energetic.

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Short haired black indoor kitty approx 18 months old. He began scratching about 6 months ago (summer) so bathed with kitty flea shampoo from advantage also treated for worms. Stray, rat consuming visitors loving him up late night thru screen (discovered later). No missing hair or patches but grooming non-stop, sensitive on back / if petted. Now dandruff on back and tale. Washed with sulfur, baking soda, antifungal/antibac, flea shampoo, ivermectin (not good response). nothing seems to stop mite. unspecified. When he walked he drops skin-like pieces everywhere despite my bathing him. But he LOOKS perfect-beautiful.

Last thing: it’s contagious. I have rashes and been exterminating. Love my kitty but losing it. Does anyone have any idea what to do?

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Hello I have three cats two females one male my mail is a tuxedo and my females one is a dilute tortoiseshell and the other one is coloring and like a Maine Coon bobcat mix they’re all indoor cats except the Maine coon I did get her in the spray in March she was a stray that I picked up and have it checked out and everything was fine few months after that I noticed that there was some stuff going on my cat like there was these white hairlike things that would come out of his fur and he was itching a lot so I thought maybe with a Bayer quad dewormer and gave them all flea bath well it didn’t help nothing stopped and then I noticed that there was things happening in my home that was unexplainable like these hairs were getting on things and they were multiplying or I noticed them in my hair and I was getting itchy ear and itchy or more at night time and to the point where I ended up buying my house I ended up doing everything you can think of my cats have had numerous revolutions they’ve had mange washes they’ve had everything you can think of but I don’t know how to treat my home so I never knew what to do and still don’t the vet never gave a true diagnosis but treated them for parasites now mind you like I said this is now in my hair and in my children’s hair and it looks like like white hairs there iridescent looking the clear but yet they’re not clear I don’t know what these are I took my child to the hospital to get help because of this because they bite and it hurts and I don’t know what to do to kill them and they took my kids from me told me I was crazy please if somebody knows what this is please help me I can’t get it to go away it’s relentless

wagwalking.com

How to Identify and Treat Cat Lice: What Is That on My Cat?

When your cat’s got an itch she can’t scratch, there’s a small chance it could be cat lice.

Did you know that cat lice rarely show themselves? That’s why rescue cats should always be checked for lice before you bring them home and all cat owners should be on the lookout for signs of infestation.

The good news is that, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, lice are not nearly as common as fleas in cats or dogs, and they’re species-specific. «A lot of pet owners will blame their cat for giving them lice, but you can’t catch lice from your cat,» says Justine Lee, a veterinarian and the CEO and founder of VETgirl, a subscription-based continuing education podcast. That means you can’t catch lice from your kitty and she can’t catch lice from you!

The Difference Between Fleas and Lice
Both lice and fleas are tiny parasites that bite and live off their hosts, but they are otherwise as different as black and white — literally. When you look closely at a cat who’s been infested, fleas will present as jumpy black dots and leave a trail of black dirt. Lice, on the other hand, are white, and it’s usually the eggs — sticky white dots stuck to the hair near the skin — that can be spotted more easily.

Symptoms and Diagnosis
If your cat has lice, he might not seem too agitated, so it can be hard to diagnose the problem. In general, fleas make cats itchier and more uncomfortable than lice do. A heavy lice infestation could lead to a scruffy, unkempt look, and excessive scratching can lead to raw or bald patches.

To diagnose cat lice, simply observe your feline friend. «If you notice excessive itching, grooming or poor hair coat, it could be lice.» says Dr. Lee. If you think you see white dots, comb them out onto a dark surface to see them more clearly. If they start to move around, it’s probably cat lice. Head to the veterinarian to double-check and begin treatment if necessary.

Treatment
Don’t try treating cat lice using home remedies or store-bought solutions. «Many over-the-counter products are dangerous and toxic to both animals and humans,» says Michele Hoffman, the founder and president of Milo’s Sanctuary and Special Needs Cat Rescue in Burbank, California. Complications from lice can occur if your cat is allergic to a louse bite or gets an uncomfortable infection from excessive scratching or biting, according to Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s website.

«If you discover cat lice, a trip to the vet ASAP is in order, and either disposing of or washing all bedding and blankets in hot water with soap, and vacuuming are the best ways to treat,» says Hoffman. «Also make sure you disinfect all grooming tools and litter boxes as well as the carpet and furniture.»

A thorough cleaning will help ensure that your cat doesn’t get reinfested when he returns to your home clean and lice-free. Fortunately, once you clean your house and pet, the chance of reinfestation is slim to none. Cat lice can’t survive very long without a host, so they won’t be hiding in the cushions waiting to pounce as soon as kitty jumps on the couch! Make sure your pet sitter is aware of your cat’s predicament so they can protect all the other innocent felines they care for.

Above all, if you find your cat has lice, stay calm and administer lots of TLC. Since you can’t catch lice from your cat and lice treatments are no fun, you might as well keep cuddling your poor, itchy furry friend.

Cara Stevens is a freelance writer living in Connecticut with her husband and two children. She has authored several books for children and writes frequently about parenting, hair care, DIY crafts, food and healthy living.

www.care.com

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