can skin condition in cats be mange?
There are some nasty skin conditions in cats, including mange, although it’s not very common for cats to get mange (which is sometimes called scabies.) but yes, cats can get mange.
There are, in fact, three types of mange cats can get.
Demodectic mange affects cat’s head
Demodectic mange (caused by Demodex cati or Demodex gatoi) is not considered contagious: it can’t be transmitted from dogs (who are more likely to be affected) to cats. The cigar-shaped mites are normal residents on a healthy cat’s skin and hair follicles. If these mites appear in large quantities, then a cat has demodectic mange and it’s apparent as a skin condition. A compromised immune system is often the cause of excessive demodectic mites on cats.
It primarily affects the head and foreparts of a cat.
Sarcoptic mange (a form of mange caused by the itch mite.) There are varieties of Sarcoptes scabiei which infest a wide range of mammals, including canines, people, horses, cattle, and cats, although cats are rarely infested with this type of mite.
These pests tunnel into the skin, which becomes intensely itchy, irritated, red and swollen. The skin thickens where bald patches develop. Sarcoptic mange is contagious, but the mites don’t survive for long on hosts other than the host they have adapted to: they are considered host-adapted strains of a single species rather than a distinct species.
Notoedric mange mites cause severe skin infections in cats, generally starting on the face and ears and spreading to the rest of the body, and are highly contagious between cats. This mite burrows into the cat’s skin to lay eggs and live there. When the eggs hatch, the cycle repeats and the new mites continue to tunnel under the cat’s skin. The cat loses hair and the skin becomes crusty and sore: it will appear flaky and scabby, starting on the head and ears, and then spreading to the armpits, legs and body. If the mange is severe enough, the cat’s forehead and eyes can become so swollen it’s described as “cro-magnon” kitty. Notoedric mange is extremely itchy (called pruritis), and causes inflamed bumps similar to chicken pox. Notoedric mange can spread to humans, although we are not their natural host, so the mites won’t live long. If it does get on you, it will cause redness and a bumpy rash, with minor itching. It usually goes away on its own within days.
Symptoms of mange
cat with skin condition photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017
A cat with mange may be restlessness, have intense itching and frantic scratching, which appears one week after exposure. Then, typical is patchy hair loss and a moth-eaten appearance to the skin. The most commonly affected areas are a cat’s ears and face, but it can spread to the entire body.
If your cat has mange
First, take your cat to your vet so they can perform a skin scraping test in order to confirm the presence of mites with a microscope: identifing mange mites can be difficult if they’re buried deep in the skin. The vet will also consider symptoms and your cat’s history (contact with contaminated cats, for example). Notoedric mange are generally treated with an Ivermectin based drug, applied topically to the back of the cat’s neck.
Ivermectin on cat’s back
photo by shari smith dunaif©2017
Ivermectin treats fleas, but it will also treat mange, ear mites, hookworms and roundworms in the stomach, plus it’s a heartworm protection, for up to 30 days.
If the Notoedric mange is extreme enough, the cat may need follow up treatments of Ivermectin injections or Revolution balm at weekly or bi-weekly intervals for 4-6 weeks. In serious cases, a vet may choose to use cortisone to help the itching, or possibly prescribe antibiotics to treat any secondary infections.
How to prevent spreading mange
Indoor cats undergoing mange treatment need their bedding washed daily, and anything else you can launder wherever they sleep, loll, and lounge. If one cat in your household has mange, all of them should be treated with a preventative like Revolution, because of how quickly it can spread between them.
just remember, however unpleasant mange is for you and your cat, don’t panic! Mange in cat’s is treatable, so get your cat to a vet and commence treatment as soon as possible.