Lice are small insects, however they can be seen with the naked eye. Lice are flat parasites that infect humans as well as cats and kittens. The types of lice that affect kittens are distinct from those that affect humans. Lice that attach to kittens spend their entire lives on that kitten and do not jump from the kitten to humans or other pets like dogs or birds. A kitten may become infected with lice by another kitten or by a grooming brush used on a kitten with lice. Regardless, there are some home remedies you can use on an infected kitten.
Recognizing lice infestation
Kittens are infected by a specific type of lice called Flicola subrostratus. This is different from dog lice species — in fact, there are three different species of lice that can infect dogs, but only one that infects cats. If you notice hair loss on your kitten or a scruffy, dry coat accompanied by constant scratching on the part of your kitten, check your kitten's coat for the small lice. You should be able to see them crawling on your kitten's fur and skin.
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If you do find signs your cat has lice, there are a few home remedies you can use. Use these home remedies as long as your cat is not exhibiting extreme weakness — a sign of anemia — which may be caused by blood loss in a severe lice infestation. If you suspect anemia, take your kitten to your vet immediately and have it treated with the strongest medications available to get rid of the lice and build up your kitten's red blood cell supply.
How to use a lice comb
Purchase a fine-toothed lice comb for your kitten as a safe, chemical-free way to clear up a mild lice infection in your kitten. You may want to place your kitten in a sink or bathtub or hold him outside while using the lice comb. Wherever you choose to use the comb, do it away from other cats in the house. Don't worry about the lice jumping to you, as they are specific to cats only.
Wash your cat with conditioner and dry him slightly so his fur is damp. Place the comb at the kitten's head and brush down his back toward his tail. Clean the comb in between each stroke by rinsing it under running water. Brush the entire kitten's coat in sections with the comb until you can no longer see any lice or eggs on the comb after brushing. Repeat this process two to three times a week for four weeks to ensure you remove all lice eggs and lice from the kitten.
Using olive oil against lice
One-hundred percent pure olive oil helps remove lice naturally from kittens. Place your kitten in a tub or wash basin. Cover your cat's fur in olive oil, taking care to rub it thoroughly into the cat's coat. Allow the olive oil to penetrate the cat's fur and skin for 15 minutes. As the oil penetrates the hair, the lice will slip free. Rinse the cat with water and apply a natural shampoo to its coat. Repeat this process twice a week for three weeks until the lice have completed their life cycle and you notice no more lice on the kitten's coat.
Bathing kittens with dish soap
Common dish soap is a gentle, alternative treatment for cat lice. Fill a tub or wash basin with dish soap and warm water. Gently place your kitten into the tub and wash its coat with the sudsy water. Let the kitten sit in the mixture for 10 minutes. Drain the tub and rinse the kitten with warm, clean water. Repeat these baths twice a week for three weeks. After this or other baths, wash the kitten's bedding, carpets, and furniture with borax powder to kill lice that may be remaining in the environment and to prevent your cat from becoming re-infected.