No one likes having itchy, irritated skin, and that includes our feline companions. While some skin discomfort can be attributed to allergies, dryness, or even infections, like fungal or bacterial inflammation, sometimes scabies can be to blame. Feline scabies, while fairly rare, is not only uncomfortable for cats but is also easily transmittable, so taking action is needed to keep your cat and bug-free. While there are several prescription treatment options available, some cases of feline scabies can be addressed by using home remedies.
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What is feline scabies?
Like the scabies that you might find on people, feline scabies are mites that live burrow into the skin. Feline scabies, also known as notoedric mange according to Merck Veterinary Manual, is transmitted to cats via skin to skin contact and is known to be highly contagious, so infected felines should be separated from any other cats in and around the home when possible. Scabies is diagnosed by having feline scrapings taken by your veterinarian, so if you suspect that your cat may have scabies, a visit to the doctor is likely in order. Symptoms of feline scabies include itchiness, hair loss, and skin crusting, and is commonly first seen around the head — specifically, the ears and neck — before spreading to the rest of the body.
If your cat has feline scabies she will need to receive treatment to rid herself of the mites. A veterinarian can prescribe medication to kill the mites and relieve inflammation that comes with their bites. Common treatment options include spot treatment, injection therapy, and body dips in a lime-sulphur solution. Sometimes, feline scabies can be treated at home using alternative solutions.
Feline scabies home remedies
The prescription medication you get from your veterinarian will be administered at home, usually over the course of several days, and non-prescription solutions to treat your cat's scabies as well. A mild case of feline scabies may find relief from a bath with sulphur soap or a rinse with white vinegar, every day for about two weeks or until the mites are gone, says Animal Wised. Additionally, massaging your cat with a thick oil, like corn oil, may help suffocate mite eggs, preventing any further spread of scabies. For the best results, any of these DIY home remedies will be the most effective when combined with prescription medication, like lime sulphur dips, which has proven efficacy rates.
Keeping cats and people safe
According to a 2015 study, in the Journal of Parasitic Diseases, feline scabies can result in pruritus when passed from feline to human, and is easily communicated from cat to cat. Keeping infected cats away from one another as soon as you notice a scabies outbreak will be your best bet at keeping surrounding felines safe from infection. If your cat is allowed to roam outdoors, be sure to keep him inside during an outbreak, as infections within cat colonies can easily spread out of control, and may lead to unsafe conditions for all cats in your neighborhood. Because scabies relies on a host to stay alive, Shelter Medicine strongly recommends contacting a veterinarian to discuss treatment options.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.