Mange, a parasitic skin infection, typically responds well to dip treatments -- but topical, oral or injected medications may be necessary, depending on the severity of the infection. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics and corticosteroids to prevent secondary infections and self-harm. Use a monthly preventive to keep mange from infesting your cat again.
Identifying the Symptoms
The various types of mange have some overlapping symptoms. Notoedric mange is highly contagious; its symptoms may include fever, weight loss, hair loss, lesions, self-mutilation caused by trying to relieve itching, and gray crust on the skin. The Demodex gatoi mite may cause hair loss, scaling, crusting and hyperpigmentation of the skin. The Demodex cati mite affects only cats with compromised immune systems; its symptoms include lesions on the head and ears, crusting, rash, pustules, swelling and redness of the inner ear, and overproduction of ear wax. Otodectic mange, also known as ear mites, may cause head-shaking, scratching of the ears, drooping ears and pus production. If your cat has any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian may recommend starting with a dip treatment, since they are generally safe and effective. A lime-sulfur dip administered once a week for four to six weeks is often effective for all types of skin-based mange, although it cannot be used for ear mites. Using a pump sprayer may be less stressful for your cat than submerging her in the dip. Your veterinarian may recommend an Elizabethan collar to prevent your cat from ingesting the lime-sulfur dip during grooming.
Medication and Injections
If the dip treatment is ineffective or the infection is severe, your veterinarian may recommend medication. Ivermectin, selamectin or fipronil may treat notoedric mange. D. cati may require injections of doramectin, topical selamectin or oral invermectin to eliminate the infection. For otodectic mange, your vet may recommend ear drops that contain moxidectin, selamectin, ivermectin or milbemycin. Your cat may also need an antibiotic to prevent lesions from becoming infected or corticosteroids to reduce itching and discomfort.
Once a mange infection is eliminated, prevent it from coming back. Make sure all items that may have come in contact with your infected cat, such as bedding, toys and collars, are sterilized or replaced. Keep your cat away from other animals who could become infected. Regular checkups with your veterinarian will help ensure that the mites are completely eliminated. A monthly dose of selamectin or fipronil can prevent another infection.