How to Handle Warbles in Your Cat?


Warbles are nothing but Cuterebra fly’s larval form. These are typically found in cats and dogs during the summer. The female Cuterebra goes through the natural process of laying eggs, either on animals or around nests. This egg will hatch after receiving body heat while the larva will penetrate the animal via an opening like the nose, mouth, or even open wounds. The larva further moves through the cat/dog’s body and settles just underneath the skin. It is here that they create a breathing hole. Hence the lump-like structure that you notice under your cat’s skin is a botfly larva-infested warble.

Getting rid of warbles in cats

The first step towards treating warble in cats is to visit the veterinarian for a consultation. He/she might be able to eliminate the botfly larva in addition to recommending suitable follow-up care. This will allow the cat to heal properly and in good time. There are several different ways in which a veterinarian may choose to remove warble. Some of them include the following:

  • The vet may give anesthesia to the cat and use surgical tools and equipment to widen the skin opening. He/she will then remove the botfly with the help of tweezers or a hemostat pair.
  • In the event that the skin opening is large and the size of the botfly is small, surgery might not be needed at all. Instead, the doctor may use an anesthetic to numb the larva and extract it.
  • In some cases, doctors may place a salve or liquid into the skin opening, stopping the larva from breathing. This way, the botfly will begin to come out slowly, and the doctor can grasp it and pull it out. In order to treat any secondary infections, the veterinarian may administer antibiotics via injection.

Controlling infection

A surgical extraction is helpful in removing larvae seen on the soft tissue near the eyes, nasal sinuses, or mouth area. In cases where the larvae infection affects the brain or spine, it usually becomes difficult to remove the warble. Cat owners are advised to control warble infestations with the help of topical insecticides like fipronil.

There are some organic compounds also available for controlling larvae migration. Medical experts suggest that steroid hormones are helpful in preventing the parasite from affecting the lungs. Vets may also prescribe anti-parasitic drugs to destroy migrating maggots.

The use of ivermectin has been reported to be effective with regard to curbing larvae in the migratory stage. When combined with corticosteroids, it can offer a lot of relief to the cat. The most critical part of the treatment is to ensure that the botfly larva is removed completely and that any significant damage to the body is prevented.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you treat a warble on a cat?

A warble, also known as a botfly larva, is a parasite that can infect cats. To treat a warble, it is important to remove the larva from the cat's skin. This can be done by applying petroleum jelly or bacon grease to the area, which will cause the larva to surface, making it easier to remove. If the larva cannot be removed easily, a veterinarian may need to remove it surgically. In severe cases, the cat may also require antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.

How long does it take a warble to come out of a cat?

It can take anywhere from several days to up to 2 months for a warble to come out of a cat after the application of petroleum jelly or bacon grease. The exact timeline depends on various factors, such as the size of the larva, its location, and the cat's immune response. If you suspect your cat has a warble, it is best to consult with a veterinarian who can assess the situation and provide guidance on the best course of action.

Can cats survive warbles?

Yes, cats can survive warble if the infestation is detected and treated in a timely manner. Warbles, also known as botfly larvae, are parasites that can cause discomfort and pain to the affected cat. In some cases, warble can lead to secondary infections if not removed promptly. However, with proper treatment and care, the prognosis is generally good, and most cats make a full recovery. It's crucial to have your cat examined by a veterinarian if you suspect they have a warble and to follow their recommendations for treatment and care.

Are warbles painful for cats?

Yes, warbles can be painful for cats. Warbles are botfly larvae that burrow under the skin and can cause discomfort and irritation to the affected area. The larvae can also release substances that can cause an inflammatory response, resulting in redness, swelling, and pain. If a warble goes untreated, it can also lead to secondary infections, which can further increase discomfort and pain for the affected cat.

Can warble spread to humans?

No, warble does not typically spread from cats to humans. Warbles are botfly larvae that infect cats and other animals. They do not infest humans. However, it's important to take precautions when handling a warble, as the larvae can release substances that can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in some individuals.

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