Scabies in cats is also commonly known as cat mange. A burrowing mite is responsible for causing this condition. Fortunately, it is very uncommon in cats, since it would make them very uncomfortable.
Feline scabies is a very contagious condition. The mite can easily be transmitted to your cat if he comes into direct contact with an infected animal. If you keep your cat indoors, the chances of him coming into contact with a stray is minimal. That's why outdoor cats are usually affected. Any breed or age can become infected with the mite that causes scabies in cats. If mothers are infected, then there is a very high chance that her entire litter will be affected also.
Owners should also be wary, since the mite can infect them also, causing their skin to become very itchy. Mites can only infect humans for up to six weeks before the condition goes away on its own. However, infections are likely to recur as long as the cat is still infected and capable of passing along the mites.
If your cat has feline scabies, then he will experience severe itching around the head and neck. This severe itching prompts cats to scratch at the affected areas constantly. The skin may turn red and sores may develop. Hair loss is also common with excessive scratching. If you notice sores on your cat, then it's important to get them treated as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in the sores becoming infected.
It's vital to have scabies in cats treated quickly even if there are no sores yet. Female mites, after tunneling slightly into the skin, will lay eggs. These eggs will hatch in approximately one week and grow to become adults. The cycle will repeat itself until something is done about it.
To diagnose feline scabies, the veterinarian will most likely do a skin scraping. A skin biopsy is an alternative that's used in rare cases. A skin scraping will confirm if your cat really has this form of mange or another closely related form.
If your cat is like most others, then he will likely hate being bathed. However, bathing in warm water containing lime sulfur is one of the most effective ways to treat cat scabies. This will need to be done for several weeks in order to get rid of the infection entirely. Don't stop bathing your cat as soon as you notice that the symptoms have subsided. There may still be a few mites hanging around that haven't been dealt with yet.
Owners with multiple cats should do the same for all of them. Even if symptoms of feline scabies aren't showing in one of your cats, he may be harboring a few mites that will reinfect your other cat in the future.