If your cat receives a monthly topical flea and tick preventive, he's unlikely to develop scabies, or mange. Even if isn't on a preventive, he's unlikely to suffer from scabies, because this form of mange is relatively rare in felines. The culprit in cats is a mite known as Notoedres cati, Still, scabies is quite contagious, so infested cats can easily spread the disease to other felines. If cats live with infested dogs, they may acquire Sarcoptes scabiei, the canine mange mite.
Itching and Related Symptoms
Whether the cat is infested with the feline or canine mange mite, symptoms are similar. The initial sign is intense itching, especially around the head. Other symptoms include:
- hair loss
- crusty skin, appearing first on the head and ears, but possibly spreading all over the animal
- and small pimple-like bumps.
Your vet diagnoses mange by placing skin scrapings under a microscope. Even if she can't find mites on the particular specimens, the cat's appearance and symptoms are likely indicative of infestation. If the recommended scabies treatment doesn't work, then further testing is in order.
Because scabies is so contagious, you must treat every pet in your household, even if they appear asymptomatic.
The standard scabies treatment has been lime sulfur dips, with the first dip followed by a second one 10 days later to kill off eggs that have hatched in the interim. While effective, it's a smelly process, and few cats cooperate during a prolonged lime sulfur dip. Instead, your vet may recommend treating your pet with selamectin, marketed under the brand name Revolution. Applied topically, selamectin eradicates mites along with fleas, ticks and heartworms. Another dewormer, ivermectin, will also get rid of mites, but has no effect on fleas or ticks.
If your cat has developed a bacterial infection in the lesions caused by constant scratching, your vet may need to prescribe antibiotics.