How to Deal With a Botfly Infestation In Your Cat?


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Contrary to popular belief that botflies infest rabbits and rodents, it has come to notice that botflies can latch on to felines if they get a chance. You are stroking your feline friend, and suddenly you feel a lump. On parting the fur, you see a small hole in the skin with something moving in it. Such a situation is bound to evoke disgust, but you need to consider a botfly infestation. A clear understanding of such infestation will help you get deeper into the matter.

What are bot flies?

Botflies, also called Cuterebra, are commonly found in most parts of North America, particularly in the northeastern region, which is called the hub spot of botflies. These large, frizzy flies look like bees and lay eggs near the entry point on their host animal's body. Once the eggs hatch, larvae emerge in the presence of a potential host nearby, such as a cat. The larvae latch onto the cat's fur and gain entry into its body through any opening like the mouth, nose, or anus, and finally burrow into the skin.

Symptoms of botfly infestation

The symptoms of botfly infestation vary depending on the larvae' location in the cat's body. Although skin symptoms are common, botflies can have a virulent effect on the central nervous and respiratory systems, and eyes. The symptoms are as follows:

Respiratory symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Breathlessness

Neurological symptoms:

  • Paralysis
  • Circling
  • Dizziness

Eye symptoms:

  • Blindness
  • Lesions

Skin Symptoms:

  • Sores and lumps
  • Excessive grooming of infested region

Diagnosis and treatment

A veterinarian usually examines your cat's respiratory, neurological, eye, and skin symptoms and draws a conclusion. Warbles under the skin are the clearest signs that botflies have infested your cat. However, there is nothing much to worry about because a number of treatment options are available, which are as follows:

  • Surgery: A surgical procedure may be employed to remove the larvae from the cat's body. Although helpful, the process may subject your cat to side effects, anesthesia, and intravenous fluids. It also entails a longer recovery time.
  • Anti-parasitic medications: These medications are used to kill the parasites within your cat's body, particularly in the nervous, respiratory, and other vital organ systems where surgical removal is not possible.
  • Extraction: Considered less risky than surgeries, extraction of the larvae does not require the cat to undergo painful procedures. Local anesthesia is used to numb the infested area, and the larva is removed by making an incision.
  • Corticosteroids: Corticosteroid medications suppress immune reactions and control inflammation. Although not that effective in removing the larva, these medications can treat nervous and respiratory symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if a botfly is not removed from a cat?

Botflies are parasites that can infest a variety of animals, including cats. When a botfly larva (also known as a "warble") infests a cat, it burrows under the skin and creates a painful swelling, which can cause discomfort and irritation to the cat. If a botfly is not removed from a cat, it will continue to grow and develop inside the cat's body. As it grows, it can cause more damage to the surrounding tissue, leading to inflammation and potential infection. In some cases, the larvae can even migrate to other parts of the body, which can lead to more serious health problems.

Can cats survive Botflies?

Prompt veterinary care is important in the management of botfly infestations in cats. With appropriate supportive care and treatment, most cats can recover from botfly infestations within 14-24 days. However, without treatment, botfly infestations can lead to serious complications and even death. In some cases, the larvae can migrate to other parts of the body, causing tissue damage and potentially leading to secondary infections. If the larvae are located near the respiratory system, it can lead to paralysis of the diaphragm, which can be life-threatening.

How do you treat bot flies in cats?

The primary treatment for botfly infestations in cats is to remove the larvae from the cat's body. The veterinarian may use various methods for removal, depending on the location and severity of the infestation. The veterinarian may use forceps to extract the larvae from the skin gently. This method is typically used for larvae that are close to the surface and easy to access. In some cases, surgical removal of the larvae may be necessary, especially if they are located deep within the tissue. The veterinarian may apply an ointment or cream to the affected area, which can suffocate the larvae and cause them to detach from the skin. The veterinarian may administer an injectable medication that can kill the larvae and cause them to detach from the skin. In addition to removing the larvae, the veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics or pain medication to manage any inflammation or infection that may occur.

Are Botflies painful for cats?

Yes, botflies can be painful for cats. When a botfly larva infests a cat, it burrows under the skin and creates a painful swelling, which can cause discomfort and irritation to the cat. The larvae feed on the cat's tissue and can cause inflammation and potential infection. Botfly larvae have spines on their body, which help them anchor themselves inside the host's skin. These spines can make it difficult to remove the larvae, as they can cause pain and further damage to the surrounding tissue if not removed carefully.

Is it painful to get rid of a botfly?

Removing a botfly larva can be painful, especially if the larva is deeply embedded in the skin. The spines on the larva can cause pain and further damage to the surrounding tissue if not removed carefully. However, the pain and discomfort can be minimized by using appropriate techniques and tools for removal. It is not recommended to try to remove botfly larvae yourself, as improper removal techniques can cause more harm to your pet and potentially lead to further complications.

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