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Mange in cats is caused by tiny mites that feed on skin debris, hair follicles, and tissue. Symptoms include loss of hair often caused by a flaky crust on the skin. The mites cause extreme itching and infected animals will scratch until they make themselves raw.
There are three types of mange:
Two species of mites causes this illness. It is believed that the cats immune system must be compromised to become vulnerable to this type of mange, it is fairly uncommon for cats to contract this type called demodex. Demodectic mange in cats is likely to resolve itself spontaneously. For severe generalized cases, long-term medication may be necessary for controlling the condition. Lime-sulfur dips to the affected areas may help relieve symptoms. In either case, the general health status of your cat should be evaluated.
This type of mange is also known as scabies, and develops when a tiny microscopic mite burrows under the skin of the cat to lay eggs. In about three weeks the eggs will hatch and develop into larvae and than into adult mites. The cycle keeps repeating itself increasing greatly. This type causes intense itching, oozing sores, crusty ear tips, hair loss, and secondary infections from bacteria. The hair loss will continue until it is spread all over the body. People, cats, and dogs can pass scabies to each other.
Known as “walking dandruff” is caused by a large red mite that looks like dandruff on the animals head, neck, and back. Even though it is highly contagious (often found in kennels), it is short lived, doesn’t cause much itching and is easily treatable. The usual treatment is an insecticide dip.
Different types of mange require different types of treatments. If you suspect that your cat has mange, see your vet. If you have multiple pets it would be best to have them all treated even if the other pets do not show symptoms.
General good health may help prevent some cases. Keeping your cat clean, without drying the skin, and in optimal health, will help to keep the Demodex mite population in balance. It is also advised that cats with generalized chronic mange not be bred, as the condition may be genetically based in some breeds and may be passed to offspring. The best preventive for notoedric mange is to keep your pet away from infected animals! Mites do not survive long in the environment, so direct contact is necessary for infection.