Demodectic Mange in Cats

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Demodicosis, also known as demodectic mange, is a type of

inflammatory disease

of the skin caused by Demodex mites that are not visible to the naked eye. They are usually found on the skin of most mammals, and while they are not indicative of an abnormal condition, they can pose a threat if the immune system is compromised by illness or stress, or when the body is producing excess hormones or oil, which can lead to hair and skin problems.When the population of mites becomes excessive, it is usually followed by skin lesions, problems with the body’s immune system, genetic disorders and hair loss. The symptomatic severity depends on the kind of mite that inhabits your cat.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include hair loss around the head, eyelids, flank and neck. You might also notice lesions, crusty patches and scales on the skin.

Causes

Mite disorders are rare in cats. So, we don’t know much about them. However, there are two common mite species that cause mange in cats. The first of them is Demodex gatoi, which is contagious and can be transferred from one cat to another. The second is Demodex cati and is linked to diseases of the metabolic and immune systems, like diabetes. In certain cases, impairment to the immune system will allow the mite to overpopulate.

Diagnosis

The vet will use skin scrapings to diagnose the condition in cats. He might also obtain hair samples to identify the specific type of mite that is responsible for the condition. If there are other causes, especially metabolic, the doctor might take a urine sample to diagnose the skin condition. Alternative diagnoses include allergies or scabies.

Treatment

In more than 90 percent of the cases, demodectic mange tends to resolve itself spontaneously. If it is a severe generalized case, you cat might need to be on long term medication to get the condition under control. Sulfur-lime dips might help in relieving the symptoms in the affected areas. No matter what the case is, you need to thoroughly evaluate the status of your cat’s health.Management and livingFollow-up care includes additional scrapings from the skin, as well as microscopic examination of the hair. The latter is done by a process referred to as the trichogram, which is a diagnostic tool in which the plucked hairs are examined so that the vet can recommend the proper treatment. If it is a chronic and long term case of demodectic mange, your cat might need to be on regular medication to keep the condition under control.

Prevention

Make sure that your cat stays clean and his skin isn’t too dry. It will help in keeping the mite population in balance. If your cat has a chronic case of mange, it is not advisable to use him or her for breeding as studies have shown a genetic component in certain breeds.

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