Mange in Cats: Definition, Treatment, Prevention

There is a wide range of conditions that a cat can suffer from and each of these has its own causes and symptoms. One condition by which a cat may be affected is mange, although this is relatively uncommon in domestic cats. It is much more common in dogs than cats. Even though it is rare, mange is still a condition that cats can suffer from and it is the result of an infestation by mites. In fact, there are two different varieties of this condition. Here is what you need to know about mange and how it is treated.

The Types of Mange

The two types of mange are called demodectic mange and sarcoptic mange. The most common cause of mange is the Demodex mites. There are two different kinds of these mites; the Demodex cati and the Demodex gatoi. The former affects the hair follicles while the latter afflicts the skin. It may surprise you to learn that carrying these parasites is perfectly normal for cats. Most cats have these in their system but their immune system develops as they grow from a kitten to an adult cat and manages the levels of the mites in the body. If demodectic mange is not treated, it causes lesions and scales on the skin and this leads to excessive biting and scratching.

Sarcoptic mange is a nastier form of the mange and the symptoms are similar but more extreme. Thankfully, it is rare for domestic cats to have Sarcoptic mange. It is more common amongst strays and feral cats that live in unsanitary environments.

How to Prevent Mange in Cats

Being a responsible cat owner is the best way to reduce the risk of your cat developing mange. The most important aspects of this in terms of mange prevention are providing them with a healthy diet, grooming them regularly, and making sure they have a clean environment in which to live.

Most cats hate having a bath and many cat owners dread having to do this task as it can make the cat scratch and bite. However, wetting the cat down occasionally can make a big difference to their risk of getting mange. This is because it allows your cat to care for their coat and skin and also gives their natural defenses a chance to boost itself so that it remains in balance with the natural parasites living in your cat’s body. Another way to help your cat to care for their skin and coat is to groom them regularly. By brushing their coat, it helps that natural oils to redistribute and protect their skin.

Parasites cannot live long away from their host and this is why it is so important to keep your cat’s living environment clean. Make sure the carpets are vacuumed regularly and that hard floor surfaces are swept and mopped. By keeping the house clean, you are limiting the opportunities for infestation.

Can Humans Catch Mange from Cats?

If your cat has mange, then one of your main fears is likely to be whether or not you and your family members can also catch mange. In the case of demodectic mange, you cannot catch this from your cat. This is because the Demodex mites cannot live on hosts of other species. However, if you have several cats in your household, your other cats are at risk of developing demodectic mange. On the other hand, humans can be affected by sarcoptic mange. However, this is usually only for a short period of time and the symptoms are usually not severe.

How is Mange Treated?

In mild cases of demodectic mange, the cat will usually self-treat without the need for a trip to the vets. They will display symptoms of mange for a short period before the body’s natural defenses begin to kick in and the parasitic levels return to normal. In severe cases, the cat may need a trip to see the vet who will prescribe the best treatment for the cat, such as creams, dips or sprays that are applied to the coat and skin. As sarcoptic mange is the more serious form and the cat is likely to have more severe symptoms, this will need a trip to the vet and medication to clear the parasitic infection.

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