Scabies on cats is the result of a very small mite called the Notoedres cati. Similar to mange in dogs, scabies affects cats of all ages and sizes, though it is more common in stray cats. Itching is the most common symptom of scabies, closely followed by hair loss on the cat's ears, face, neck, feet and occasionally the abdomen. Scabies is highly contagious among cats (and may also infect humans), but effective treatments are available.
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Things you need
- Pet grooming clippers/shears
- Gentle pet shampoo
- Bathing supplies (water, towel, washcloth or sponge)
- Lime/sulphur dip
- Rubber gloves
- Veterinarian-recommended household cleaners
Clip any long hair on your cat. Cut the hair short using clippers or scissors designed for pet grooming. Cutting your cat's hair makes accessing the skin (where the scabies live) much easier. If your cat is of the short-haired variety, skip this step and proceed to Step 2.
Bathe your cat in a gentle pet shampoo. There is no need to purchase speciality shampoo for this purpose, as the medication you use in the next step is effective at killing the scabies. Harsh shampoos may lead to further skin irritation or may have a negative interaction with the medication you use in the next step. Wash the cat's entire body and rinse the cat thoroughly -- leaving any trace of shampoo on the cat may cause further itching or skin irritation, even if the shampoo is gentle.
Apply a lime/sulphur dip to your cat's body, paying special attention to problem areas and making sure to work the dip beneath the surface of the fur onto your cat's skin. You may wish to wear gloves to prevent the dip from irritating your skin. Do not rinse the dip; this is what kills the scabies on your cat's body.
Repeat the bathing/dipping process once a week until your cat's scabies has completely cleared up. Try to keep the bathing/dipping procedure on a regular schedule (such as every Monday) to maintain consistency in your treatment program and to avoid letting the mites return to your cat again.
Clean up your cat's environment, including bedding, dishes, litter box and any of your living space the cat shares. Clean these items at least once a week, or more often if possible. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a household cleaner/antiseptic to use throughout your home to keep scabies under control in your house, and consider keeping your cat confined to one room until treatment is complete.
Tips and warnings
- Ask your veterinarian to recommend a lime/sulphur dip that can be mixed into your cat's shampoo. Not only does this make the bathing/dipping process easier (you will get it done in one step) but it also reduces the risk of your cat having a reaction to the dip you use during treatment.
- Sedating your cat may make the bathing/dipping process easier during treatment.
- To avoid scabies, do not allow your cat access to stray cats. If you are adopting a new or stray cat, have it checked out thoroughly for scabies and other health problems before introducing it to your current cat(s).
- Do not allow your cat access to any other cats or pets in your home until the scabies has cleared up. This infestation is highly contagious and will infect any other cats in your home, resulting in more treatment as well as possible reinfestation of the cat you originally treated.
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