Mange is a nick-name for a widespread, itchy skin condition in pets. In dogs, mange is caused by the Sarcoptes mite, in cats, mange is caused by the Notredes mite. Another name for mange in cats and dogs is scabies.
Feline mange is a very rare condition. The mites that cause mange are microscopic, meaning you cannot see them with the naked eye. Feline mange is a very itchy and very contagious condition. It begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body, causing severe skin infections. Feline mange is more common in the southern areas of the United States.
The signs that your cat might have mange include frantic scratching, patchy hair loss, crusts on the skin, and restlessness. The infestations can be severe and can cause death in young cats. A cat that has been exposed to mites usually develops signs about a week later. A human that is exposed to feline mange may also develop a rash of red bumps, though the mites cannot live on humans, and humans cannot spread it to other cats or humans.
Feline mange is diagnosed by a skin scraping: your veterinarian will scrape the surface of your cat’s skin and then look at the sample under a microscope. The mites can be difficult to detect, and sometimes your veterinarian will treat based on the clinical signs of your cat.
The treatment for feline scabies is a drug called ivermectin. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for this drug as too high of a dose is toxic to cats.
The best way to prevent feline mange is to keep your cats from coming into contact with potentially infected cats. If you have a cat with mange, then isolate that cat from your other cats until your veterinarian clears your cat, and wear gloves when handling.
Dr. Sarah J. Wooten, DVM
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