Mange in cats is a type of cat skin allergy that is mainly caused by mites and parasites. It usually affects cats that often stay outdoors under unhygienic conditions. Being extremely contagious, it gets easily transmitted from one animal to another and in rare cases, it might also get transmitted to humans, and is called scabies.
Mange is mainly caused by three types of microscopic parasitic mites--Demodectic, Sarcoptic, and Cheyletiella.
- Demodectic Mange: It is caused by cigar-shaped mites that are commonly detected in the hair follicles and oil glands of the cat's skin. These mites multiply in number and lead to inflammation of the skin. It is not very itchy, but if the area gets infected by bacteria, it can become very irritating.
- Sarcoptic Mange: This type is caused by mites that are found near the ears, on the belly, and around the genitals of the animal, where they lay their eggs. Being highly-contagious, it can be passed to other animals or even humans by direct contact.
- Cheyletiella Mange: It is caused by large, reddish mites that move around in the scale of the animal's skin which can be seen through naked eyes. Also known as walking dandruff, these mites produce scaling and flaking on the skin that looks exactly like dandruff.
The most commonly observed symptom in cats affected by mange is a skin rash that normally begins with a series of red bumps that become highly-itchy. These bumps further progress into crusty, raw areas with open sores that may spread over the entire body. The affected cat may lose its hair or fur, and these patches of missing fur may start bleeding and swelling. Irritation, discomfort, and scratching, are some other signs that can also be seen in the infected cat.
Diagnosis and Treatment
For diagnosing, the veterinarian needs to take a skin scraping from your pet, which is examined under a microscope to detect mites. Quite often, several skin scrapings are required as these mites are extremely minute and hard to find.
The treatment for this disease comprises topical, oral, or injectable medications which cure it by killing the mites. Sometimes, antibiotics are also given to prevent secondary bacterial infections. If your pet is diagnosed with sarcoptic mange or cheyletiella mites, it is always better to thoroughly clean all of its bedding, brushes, etc. to eliminate these mites from the infected areas. The most recommended treatment is Ivermectin, which can be applied on the pet's skin by the veterinarian. Cortisone can also be given, as it will help your cat get rid of the discomfort and itching.
Though mange is fairly uncommon in cats, if left untreated, it can make the animal severely ill. By keeping its eating, sleeping, and playing areas clean and hygienic, you can minimize the risks of this disease. Nowadays, there are many medicated shampoos available that can be used for both treatment and prevention. Along with this, providing additional vitamin supplements and healthy cat food can help increase your pet's resistance to various skin diseases, keep its skin healthy, and also maintain its health.