Mites are parasites that live in our environment and can infect cats. In fact, some species attach to their host to feed and develop, causing more or less significant reactions in the affected cat, particularly certain forms of scabies. Who are these unwanted little intruders? What are the main species likely to contaminate the cat? How to detect them? What treatment should be given? Is it possible to protect yourself from this? Let’s take a look at this case.
Cat Mites: Who Are They?
Mites are parasites that are part of ectoparasites, that is, they live on the surface of their host’s skin to feed on their scales and blood. Microscopic, these arachnids are usually invisible to the naked eye. There are several types of cats. These are the most common.
Otodectes cynotis, responsible for ear mites
This mite is most commonly found in cats and dogs and its invasion causes ear mites. In this case, it stays in the animal’s ears and bites the epidermis to feed on it. It is the saliva of these arachnids that causes allergic inflammation in cats and often causes the formation of otitis externa.
A mite Otodectes cynotis it lives for about eight weeks, but this whitish parasite lays numerous eggs which in turn are able to reproduce 21 days after hatching. So they multiply quickly.
Demodex cats and Demodex cats
These two species of mites are similar, but the Demodex cati is the best known. It is particularly the cause of many ceruminous otitis that lead to the flow of abundant cerumen of a characteristic brown-yellow color. Responsible for demodicosis, it must be taken care of quickly, because this parasite multiplies very quickly throughout the cat’s body and causes a rapid weakening of its immune defenses.
This mite is the cause of cat scabies, also called notohedric scabies, which develops mainly on the head and neck. Highly contagious, it causes injuries to the animal’s face that cause it to scratch intensely, sometimes drawing blood.
August or Neotrombicula autumnalis
This small mite, which appears during summer and autumn, comes out of the ground after hatching and waits patiently for its guest. Then it adheres mainly to cats that have access to the outside, of course, but also to humans. They are installed under the epidermis and are visible thanks to the orange spots that form on the surface. Their presence is temporary and not serious, but they cause severe itching, redness and sometimes crusting.
This is a mite that lives in the cat’s fur to lay its eggs. Its presence is not serious, but it causes temporary irritation of the epidermis and is highly contagious.
How to detect mites in cats?
When a cat is invaded by mites, it shows characteristic clinical signs that require a veterinary consultation. If these symptoms are likely to vary depending on the mite species in question, the following manifestations are usually observed:
- itching in the ear, face, neck and / or body;
- redness and irritation of the skin, sometimes accompanied by scabs;
- yellow to dry brown secretions of the ears;
- hair loss in certain areas of the body;
- otitis externa.
If you notice one or more of these clinical signs, it is important to consult your veterinarian in order to quickly relieve your pet and prevent the spread of the invasion. In addition, the presence of certain species of mites can cause disorders or diseases, in particular otitis externa or infections of the epidermis. In addition, most mites spread very quickly and their presence is highly contagious. Very often, they can contaminate other domestic cats, but also dogs and humans, not to mention spreading around the cat.
To detect mites, the vet usually takes skin samples. To do this, stick an adhesive strip to the affected areas or scrape the surface of the skin and remove hairs for examination under a microscope. Thus, the mites are clearly visible.
In case of ear damage and suspected scabies, the doctor usually takes a sample of the ear secretions before observing them under a microscope.
If necessary, it can send samples to a specialized laboratory, especially when it cannot clearly diagnose the presence of mites or when it cannot determine the species.
Mite in cats: what are the possible treatments?
The fight against mites is relatively easy, as long as you take care of the animal very early and scrupulously follow the prescribed treatment. In fact, to ensure that the parasites are completely eradicated, it is necessary to act in several stages and to follow the prescribed steps.
Treatment of the infested cat
The treatment of the cat infested with mites is based on several elements:
- antiparasitic pipettes kill mites within 48 hours when they feed on their host’s skin and blood;
- ivermectin-based fatty gels help remove mites from cat ears;
- oily lotions help cleanse secretions and remove mites and larvae;
- antibiotics are prescribed in case of bacterial infection;
- antifungals are prescribed in case of fungal infection.
Treatment of other animals in contact with the infested cat
The affected cat can completely contaminate its congeners and other species it finds. Therefore, it is essential to treat all animals that live under the same roof.
clean the cat’s environment
Mites do not necessarily stay in the cat, although they do need their host for food and reproduction. They usually colonize their environment. To eradicate them, you should periodically clean the bowls with hot soapy water, the tray with bleach, the basket, the toys, and so on.
It is important to thoroughly clean the rooms in the house where the cat lives, especially vacuuming them daily. All machine washable upholstery should be machine washed, if possible at 60 ° C.
Can cat infestations be prevented in cats?
It is possible to limit the risk of mite contamination, in particular by regularly giving your cat external pests (collars, pipettes, pills, etc.). In addition, it is important to make sure that you maintain good hygiene in your environment, in particular by regularly cleaning your bowls, baskets, trash, and toys.
Cat mites: how contagious?
The infection in case of mite invasion is carried out essentially by a direct and often intimate route. In fact, it is common for an affected mother to contaminate her offspring after birth, when breastfeeding, or when fixing them.
Although it is less common for contamination to occur indirectly (for example, through tissue that came in contact with the affected cat), it is still possible, especially when the environment is unhealthy.
Cats that contaminate cats can be transmitted to dogs and other animal species, especially ferrets. Therefore, it is essential to treat the whole family of small animals in case of infection.
In humans, the risk of infection is lower, but it exists. Very often, it is done by direct contact and can cause damage to the epidermis in an unhealthy context. It should be noted, however, that some individuals are especially sensitive to dust mites. In this case, the risk of a reaction is greater.