can cat skin condition be mange

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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.

cat with mange

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. Sarcoptes 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

vet holds cat's leg with skin condition

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.

balm on cat's back with skin condition

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.

cat skin condition could be mange

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Sweet cat has nasty skin condition

We were in Costa Rica, staying at a small hotel, when two stray cats appeared. They looked alike enough to appear to be siblings, they both were all black, very sweet and small. They were also too skinny, so against hotel policy, we bought cans of cat food and fed them dinner every night.

photo by shari smith dunaif©2017

There was one difference between the two cats – the sister cat had a skin condition – I was concerned that the cat skin condition could be mange, although mange is not common on cats.

skin condition on cat legs and backside

cat skin condition could be mange photo by shari smith dunaif©2017

The mites responsible for mange causes severe skin infections, restlessness, itching and often appears as patchy hair loss, as if the fur is moth-eaten.

vet holds cat's leg with skin condition

mange could look patchy skin condition photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017


The most commonly affected areas are a cat’s ears and face, but it can spread to the entire body. It’s also highly contagious. Even for humans, contact with mangey cats can get a reaction. That’s because of the mites – they transfer onto people, causing red bumps, very like mosquito bites. The good thing is that the mange mites can’t survive outside of their host’s environment, although the rash can be really uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, other guests at our hotel, even a lovely couple from Santa Cruz, California who confessed to also being cat people, were understandably wary of any contact with the girl cat. Since no one knew what the awful skin condition really was, everyone feared mange or some other nasty condition which could be contagious and be transported by mites or bugs. We too were hesitant to pick her up or even pet her (OK, yes, I did, albeit gingerly). She (and her brother) certainly would never be adopted.

Safari Animal Clinic, Costa Rica

Bring sweet kitty to Safari Animal Clinic, Costa Rica
photo by shari smith dunaif©2017

The only thing to do was take her to a veterinarian.

So we did, we brought her to Safari Animal Clinic in Garza Costa Rica.


The vet was wonderful, and her assistant was lovely too. Turns out she didn’t have mange or any skin condition from bugs or mites. Instead, her skin condition was caused by a food allergy. We were so relieved.




skin condition in cats could be mange

a healthy diet for cats photo by shari smith dunaif © 2017

The vet suggested we buy high quality food, which we did. We opted for dry food to make it easier for people to feed both cats once we left Costa Rica for home.

photo by shari smith dunaif©2017


She also received an injection to alleviate the itching from her allergy, a deworming pill, and tick and flea treatment. The visit to the vet enabled us to reassure people that the girl cat had allergies, not some dreadful skin condition.


Hopefully someone will adopt both sweet cats soon.

safari animal clinic facebook

why is my cat sneezing?

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is your cat sneezing?

Marnie was, a lot. Although it was kind of cute, I thought – why is my cat sneezing? She’d sneeze four or five consecutive times, every few hours. She could have allergies, but this was sudden. Maybe she’s sick, maybe she has a cold. I did some research and most sites said cats can get colds, and like humans, colds will go away on their own. There’s not much you can do to make your cat feel better and get better faster. But then, she had clear discharge from her eye, although I only saw it twice. I wiped her eye with a cotton ball dampened with warm water to clean the discharge. However, we were going out of town, and that’s why, as a precaution, we decided to bring Marnie to the vet to make sure it was only a cold and nothing worse. By then, we discovered she was doing turkey body, something cats may do if they aren’t feeling well. Turkey body is when their tail and all their paws are tucked under them, as if conserving warmth and possibly energy.

turkey body in sick cat

Marnie turkey body
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Our vet, Dr. Katz, from The Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton said that actually Marnie had a respiratory infection and required antibiotics. This is what she prescribed for Marnie:

antibiotic liquid box for cats

antibiotic liquid 
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

antibiotic liquid for cats in fridge

antibiotic in fridge
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016









antibiotic drops must be kept in the refrigerator.




She got 1 ml by mouth, twice a day.

liquid antibiotic for cats

antibiotic dose liquid form
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

The easiest way to administer the liquid is from the side of her mouth.







Colds in cats are highly infectious – so Toby got it within days.

cat not feeling well

Toby not feeling well
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

cat has cold

Toby has a cold
photo by Monika Klein © 2016

The first symptom Toby displayed was sneezing; then he too had a clear discharge from his eye.

According to Monika (our trusty cat sitter) and Bridget (our cat medical caregiver) he wasn’t eating or drinking water, plus his eye became very irritated from him scratching it, so they wisely decided to bring him to Dr. Katz. Good thing, because turns out Toby also required medication for his eye, appetite and respiratory infection.

Thanks to our caring cat sitter Monika, and Bridget (she took care of our sweet Bear) who works at our vet’s, and Dr. Katz, from The Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton.

Can cats get diabetes?

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Humans get diabetes, can cats?

The exact cause of feline diabetes isn’t known,  but when it comes to diabetes, cats aren’t that different from people. So, can cats get diabetes?
The disease affects insulin — a hormone that helps the body move sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into the cells. Feline diabetes tends to closely resemble type 2 diabetes that humans get: the body makes insulin but becomes less sensitive to the hormone. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream, leading to symptoms like increased urination and thirst. According to Richard W. Nelson, DVM, DACVIM, professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, cats aren’t designed to break down carbohydrates, like people are. That’s significant because cats in the wild are designed to hunt and eat meat, not carbs. However, domestic cats are fed less protein and more carbohydrates.

Three Major Causes of Diabetes in Cats

fact cat sits

  • usually affects overweight cats, because obesity makes the cat’s body less sensitive to the effects of insulin.
  • Diabetes is also more common in older cats.
  • Diseases like chronic pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism may make cats prone to developing diabetes
  • medications like corticosteroids may also make cats prone to develop diabetes.

The majority of cats in the U.S. are fed a caloric, high carbohydrate diet. Dry food is especially inappropriate nutrition for cats because it’s so high in carbs and deficient in high-quality protein. Cats don’t need grains like corn, wheat, rice, soy, millet or quinoa, (although there is dispute about the health benefits of grains). Meanwhile, turns out that grain-free dry foods also contribute to the obesity and diabetes epidemics in cats. Grain-free diets are not only high in calories but also contain high glycemic foods like potatoes, chickpeas, peas, or tapioca, which require a substantial insulin release from the body.

    Instead, try giving your cat portion controlled, moisture-rich, balanced, and species-appropriate diet consisting of high quality protein sources and healthy fats, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary: taurine, for example.
Cats need excercise

cats need excercise
photo by shari smith dunaif  © 2016

Cats, especially those who have an indoor lifestyle, often lead sedentary lives. If your cat lies around the house all day, his heart rate isn’t being elevated for the 20 minutes per day he needs to achieve good cardiovascular conditioning. Often cats exert anaerobic — short bursts of energy followed by long periods of rest. Anaerobic exercise won’t condition your cat’s heart or muscles, and doesn’t burn the calories he consumes.

A minimum of 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise for your cat is highly recommended. Be creative with your cats: play with pingpong balls, feather wands or my guys love it when I hide little toy mice in our shoes or toss them. Play with your cats and you both can have fun.

Research connects autoimmune disorders to Type II diabetes in dogs, although currently there are few if any similar studies in cats, It’s reasonable to assume the same is true for cats. If your Cat has had any vaccines in the past, it’s very likely her immunity to those diseases will last a lifetime. Each time a fully immunized pet receives repetitive vaccines, it increases the risk of overstimulating the immune system. To find out If your cat has antibodies, find a veterinarian who does titer tests to measure antibody response from previous vaccinations. Titer results will tell you whether vaccination is necessary, and for which specific diseases.

Early diagnosis is always best, but often difficult with cats. If it’s diagnosed early and everyone in the cat’s life is committed to bringing the disease under control, it’s possible to normalize blood glucose levels and put the diabetes into remission — which means your kitty will no longer need to be on insulin or other medications. However, if your cat as been diabetic for a while, they may require insulin in addition to diet and lifestyle adjustments. What can happened to cats who have been diabetic for a long time is that the cells in the pancreas may be worn out and become unable to secrete insulin. In this case, your cat may require lifelong insulin therapy. If it’s left untreated, eventually diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications.

photo by shari smith dunaif 2014

photo by shari smith dunaif 2014

Frequent vet visits, and the cost of checkups, tests, medical procedures and insulin therapy add up fast. Pet insurance provider Trupanion reports that treatment for diabetes, including regular blood work and long-term medication, can cost in excess of $10,000 over the life of the cat.

    Dr. Tara Koble veterinary at The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital, in Boise, Idaho, says “The two best things any cat parent can help do to protect their cat from diabetes, would be to feed the highest quality canned, low-carb or raw diet that is possible. The second critical thing is to get your cat moving.”

With exercise, good nutrition, a healthy weight, and periodic visits to your vet, most cats, and people, can avoid diabetes. Oh, except the cat goes to the vet and the cat parent should go to a doctor. Meow.

Cat uses collar to drink

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 Cat uses collar to drink

On those those rare occasions when I think ‘my cat is STOOPID!’ (of course I would never say it, and as far as I know my cat can’t read. At least English) I’m going to remember this clip of cat uses collar to drink because the cat with the collar is resourceful – and just so dang cute!

Meanwhile, less rare are the times when I think humans ARE stupid, especially myself.


BTW, I wondered about the collar the kitty is wearing in the video. I didn’t even know what the collar is called. The collar this poor guy is wearing is called an Elizabethan collar, better known as an E-collar.

cat wearing E-collar

cat with E-collar

it’s used on a cat who has an injury, or had surgery, to protect the wound so that the cat can’t lick it or scratch at it, enabling the wound to heal. Apparently it’s not so easy to properly put an E-collar on a cat yourself. Your vet really should do it – which means it stays on your cat for as long as the healing process takes.

for more information about E-collars, go to vca hospitals, a network of over 600 animal hospitals across 41 states, and 4 in Canada.


broken tail on a cat

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broken tail on a cat can be serious

I didn’t know how serious a broken tail on a cat can be until I came upon this column from Dr. Vallard Forsythe, a vet in Somona, CA.

Tale of a Broken Tail, by Vallard C. Forsythe, DVM

Dear Dr. Forsythe:  I recently heard about a cat whose tail got pulled really hard and it caused him all sorts of problems.  Since my friend mentioned you were the vet taking care of that cat, could you please tell me a little about how serious that problem is?  I hope it never happens to my cat.
Robert, Sonoma

Dear Robert:  Thanks for your interest.  The problem you are inquiring about is called “pulled tail syndrome” and it can happen whenever a cat’s tail is pulled very hard or for a prolonged period of time. Commonly it is caused by traction on the tail in a road traffic accident, but other causes are accidents in sliding glass and garage doors.  Such tragic traumatic injuries result in serious and painful injury and a guarded prognosis depending on how serious the injury is when they present to the doctor.
Kitties with this problem that are brought to the veterinarian usually have a flaccid, paralyzed tail.  Depending on how severe the injury is, they may also have urinary and fecal incontinence along with loss of sciatic nerve function.  Often times the owner thinks that the cat has a “broken tail,” but X-rays and a thorough physical exam reveal a deeper problem with more damage. In more severe cases, cats are unable to use their hind legs and can only move around by crawling with their front ones.  If their bladder is affected, they don’t have “tone” in it and cannot actively urinate, so as the bladder fills up the poor kitty simply dribbles urine when its totally full.
Needless to say, this is a stressful and serious problem for both cat and owner alike.  If the bladder and anus lack tone, it is necessary to “express” the cat several times a day to assist them in elimination.  Manual expression of the urinary bladder is essential to prevent infections from setting in and encouraging the bladder to regain tone as the pet hopefully heals.  Reportedly, 60 percent of cats will regain sensation within a month of injury, provided they get the proper rest and nursing they need.  Cats who are still unable to urinate on their own after 30 days usually never do.
For pets with a less serious injury or those who are lucky enough to regain urinary function but still have a flaccid, lifeless tail, amputation is necessary to prevent further injury.  The “dead” tail is a hazard hanging off the pet and should be removed surgically when the pet is in good enough condition to withstand anesthesia.  The tail is docked where the dislocation occurred, leaving a “bobbed” appearance and an otherwise normal, healthy kitty cat.
The patient I have that suffered this terrible injury is a wonderful black kitty who we think might have been hit by a car. He spent a lot of time in the hospital, but now he is recovering well and gets stronger every day. While he was a patient here, he stole our hearts and used his meows to remind us that we were all part of his recovery team and his personal staff.
Last week, he was well enough to go home to his human, and reports are that he very happy to be the king of his castle again.  At last check, this most impressive feline was preparing a long Christmas list for his doting father to fill in its entirety.  Thanks for your question!

– published in the Sonoma Valley Sun newspaper.

This is helpful information if we ever have or see an injured cat; at least now I know a broken tail is potentially much more serious than I thought. Thank you, Dr. Forsythe.


Cat marker

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This cat marker is where we buried our sweet cat Little Bear’s ashes today.

pet marker

photo by shari smith dunaif

Although it was February when we made the gut wrenching decision that after 14 months of illness, her time had come – we still cried, and I held onto the purple tin that held her ashes
thanks to Regency Forest Pet Memorial Park
Tel: (631)345-0600
Fax: (631)345-2859
They offer private cremation. Why does this matter? Jo Ann Davis, founder of Cherished Pets (she was featured in the video Love Your Cat Tica Cat Show: chapter 4) specializes in pet bereavement. Ms. Davis discussed the common practice of group cremation, as opposed to single cremation. The only way to guarantee that the ashes you receive are your beloved pet, is by using a respectable crematorium that promises individual cremation. As unpleasant as this topic is, it was important to us to know that the purple tin I was clutching before saying my final goodbye to Little Bear, was really her ashes I hugged.

Our pet marker for Little Bear was made by Rock it Creations. They make all kinds of engraved stones for a multitude of uses, including pet markers. They were great to deal with and helpful.

miss you Bear.

Love My Cat: the sweetest cat ever

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Steve and Bear: paws on face

Steve with Bear before she was sick

Sad sad news: on Sunday February 22, 2015, we lost our beloved Kitty Bear, the sweetest cat ever. We had to make the awful decision to let her go. She had a sudden and drastic decline, and we felt the loving thing to do was to make the incredibly painful decision to let her go. Bear had CKD (chronic kidney disease) which is a fatal, incurable disease. She survived for 14 months via sub Q fluids, and various other medications. Her sub Q fluids began as an every other day treatment, but it was increased to everyday. Eventually, she received the sub Q fluid injections twice a day, which occurred for the last several months of Bear’s life. During the 14 months of Bear’s illness, she suffered two crashes – the description of how a cat can be abruptly and sometimes fatally effected by CKD. Thanks to Dr.Turetsky and Dr.Katz, and Barbara Grimes, from The Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton, for taking such loving care of her. A special thank you to Bridget Behan, who took care of Bear for a year, coming to our house to give her the life saving injections, and showing up twice a day for months, also from The Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton.

She was such a sweet, loving Bear.

We miss you, sweetheart


Does my cat have thyroid disease?

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Does my cat have thyroid disease? Pay attention to your cat’s eating habits because one of several health issues could be thyroid disease. My cat Bear has CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease). One of the symptoms is loss of appetite which can become severe enough that they can starve to death, which is why cats, Bear included, are prescribed appetites stimulants. Typically, cats who have CKD suffer from bad indigestion, enough so that they just don’t want to eat. In fact, a year ago when Bear was so sick, we worried she’d starve to death.

Photo by shari smith dunaif 2014

Photo by shari smith dunaif 2014

But via coaxing, experimenting with different foods and medications, including appetite stimulants (see post about that) she finally ate, albeit not much. So a few months ago, we were thrilled when Bear’s appetite improved. She ate the low salt deli turkey, the treats, and more of the wet cat food. Until, she became ravenous. She ate so much, that it became a concern, Barbara Grimes, from East Hampton Veterinary Clinic suggested a blood test to check her thyroid levels.

If your cat is unexplainably ravenous, you might want to have your vet test your cat for thyroid disease. Bear was tested, and the results for thyroid disease was negative. Now we just have to continue with her CKD care, and be happy she’s eating.


Why is my cat’s SQ fluids yellow?

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My Kitty Care called Thriving Pets, an online veterinarian supply company to ask about the SQ fluids my cat needs for her CKD (chronic kidney disease). SQ means subcutaneous, injected into my cat’s skin, best around the scruff of the neck. She receives 100ml of the Lacerated Ringers Injection USP daily. When I opened the box from my Thriving Pets order, all 5 bags had clear fluids20140803-080539.jpgbut when she gets fluids at The Veterinarian Clinic of East Hampton, Dr. Turetsky uses a yellow fluid, because it has B vitamins.

Cats with CKD need B vitimams as a supplement because they loose it from urination, and, since cats with CKD don’t eat enough, their diet doesn’t provide adequate B vitamins. That’s when I called Thriving Pets to find out why I can’t buy the lacerated fluids with B vitamins already in it. Sara, a certified vet technician answered my question: first, it’s a legal issue, pharmacies are not allowed to dispense mixed drugs, drugs must be sold separately. Second, B vitamins are light sensitive, so it’s best to add it when ready to use the fluids. That’s why B vitamins are sold in an amber vial. In fact, Sara said that at the veterinarian where she works, they make special little covers for the vials, to protect the B vitamins from light. Using a sock does the trick.
• B vitamins are light sensitive.
• Keeping B vitamins at room temperature is fine.
• Yellow = B vitimams; Pink = B 12.

20140803-083317.jpgThanks Sara.