Friday, April 10, 2015

Cat Lice: Symptoms, Transmission, and Treatment

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Lice are parasites that survive by chewing on the skin of the animal they are living on.  You've probably heard about human head lice, but did you know that cats can also get lice?

Though cat lice (feline pediculosis) is often found on cats living in poor or unsanitary conditions, it can occur in any environment.  Lice can be seen with the naked eye.  According to the website, Vet Info, lice are grayish-white and look like flakes of dandruff on a cat's skin.  Lice have flat bodies with six legs.  They do not have wings, but they are able to jump from one animal to another, and they are highly contagious.

Symptoms

Cats with lice will experience intense itchiness.  You may see your cat scratching much more than usual.  Lice like to hang out around a cat's ears, shoulders, groin, neck, and behind, so you may notice bald patches in these areas due to excessive itching.  Your kitty may also have a dry scruffy-looking coat.   Vet Info notes that if your cat is allergic to lice bites, bitten areas may swell up or develop rashes.  

Transmission

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There is only one species of cat lice - felicola subrostrata.  Lice are species-specific.  In other words, you will not get lice from your kitty.  Likewise, your furry companion will not get human lice from you.  Cat lice are transmitted from one cat to another through direct contact with an infested cat or through indirect contact, such as sharing bedding or grooming tools with an infested kitty.  Cat lice is very contagious, so it is best to treat the condition as early as possible.

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian can make a diagnosis by examining your cat's fur.  If your vet finds adult lice or their eggs (nits) in your kitty's fur, he or she will discuss treatment options with you.

Treatment

The type and length of treatment your veterinarian prescribes will depend on the severity of the lice infestation.  Your vet may recommend washing your kitty with a pyrethrin shampoo and applying a pyrethrin powder or spray once your feline is completely dry.  Alternatively, your vet may recommend treating your cat with fipronil (Frontline) or selamectin (Revolution).  

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More than one treatment is usually needed in order to kill lice as they hatch from their nits.  Additionally, PetMD asserts that if your companion has matted fur, your veterinarian may want to shave the matted areas in order to ensure all the lice is treated.  Do not use human or dog lice products on your feline.  Because lice is species-specific, lice products for other species will not work, and they may even harm your companion.  

You should also disinfect your cat's toys and wash your kitty's bedding, litter box, and grooming tools thoroughly as part of the treatment process.  Cleaning your furniture, rugs, hardwood floors, and anything else your cat comes into contact with will fight reinfection as well.  

If you see any adult lice or nits on your furry friend, please talk with your veterinarian right away to set up a treatment plan.  The earlier you can treat cat lice, the easier it is to get rid of.  

Sources:




26 comments:

  1. Yuck ! It's almost as bad as fleas ! Purrs

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  2. Oh no! I know that the Kitty Crew would not be happy if they get lice! Thanks for letting us know what to be on the watch for!

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  3. Cat lice! Gross! I never heard of that being an issue before now, but it really makes sense. Thanks for enlightening me :)

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  4. Thatk you. I never knew and wouldn't have without you.

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  5. When Sadie was a tot, she had lice. She was a stray my parents found at about three weeks of age, and she was very sickly, so the lice wasn't diagnosed right away. Imagine the gross factor when I found out! Because she was so tiny (8 ounces!) we could not treat her with anything, so I had to hand pick the nits with a flea comb until she was 2 pounds and could safely tolerate Frontline. We also had to treat the other two cats as a preventative, though they weren't integrated yet.

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  6. Oh, I totally agree with the yuck thing! Tis good to know though.

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  7. Wuah. My cats are having ear mites right now, and I really hope I don't have to deal with lice for a very long time (if ever).

    Thank you for this informative post!

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  8. Lice are so yucky! My sister used to get them all of the time when we were younger. Luckily, I've never had them and neither have my cats. Great information! I'm sure there are a lot of people whose kitties do suffer through lice.

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  9. Yikes I never heard of cat lice but when Dex was a teeny pup he had ear mites - ack

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  10. Yuk! I have never had lice and hope I never do.

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  11. I have never even heard of cat lice! Thanks for the great information.

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    1. I'd never heard of it before a few days ago, either!

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  12. Just the thought of lice makes me itch! I hope I never get them.

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  13. Thanks for sharing about cat lice! I have no idea. Yucky subject, but really needed... Good thing lice can be seen by the naked eye.

    -Katie Kat.

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  14. EEEUUWWW!

    So disgusting those things are...hope we nevfur get those, but thanks for the info so we know what to mew to meowmy about...

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  15. Thank u for tellin us. :)

    Luv,

    Angel Keisha and Murphy the Poodle :)

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  16. Yikes- I didn't know cats could get lice. Fleas are a nightmare enough.

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  17. That sounds like a really miserable condition for kitties to get. So glad there is a treatment! Thanks for sharing (of course, now I feel all itchy...)

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  18. Lice sound nasty not nice! Fleas are bad enough. Thanks for an informative post.

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  19. Lice freak me out! Thanks for the information!

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  20. Fortunately, I never ran across this while working as a vet tech. Which is good because I probably would have started itching!

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  21. I remember girls having lice when I was younger. The human kind is gross so I am sure the dog and kitty kind are too. What do they look like? It's good to know humans cannot get them.

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  22. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

    Head Lice Shampoo

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  23. We just took in a 5 week old abandon kitten.... full of lice :( so he's too small for any medicines. However, dawn dish soap baths do kill them , and I found out that if you massage olive oil on the kitty for as long as they will tolerate, then bath with dawn, the nits and eggs slide off pretty easy with a lice comb. He's not lice free yet, but we are getting there, and the vet says he's looking good, greasy for now, but good...

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  24. We just took in a 5 week old abandon kitten.... full of lice :( so he's too small for any medicines. However, dawn dish soap baths do kill them , and I found out that if you massage olive oil on the kitty for as long as they will tolerate, then bath with dawn, the nits and eggs slide off pretty easy with a lice comb. He's not lice free yet, but we are getting there, and the vet says he's looking good, greasy for now, but good...

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