Mange in Cats

kitten in grass
Written by: Sam Webster (BVetMed MRCVS) Head Vet at Joii

Mange is a condition that affects the skin and fur of cats, as well as many other animals. It can show up as patches where the fur has fallen out and the skin is irritated or flaking. It’s not a very common condition so it’s unlikely your cat will suffer from mange, but it’s worth knowing the signs so you know what to do should it happen.


What is mange in cats?


Mange isn’t a disease or illness, but a condition caused by mites. They’re tiny bugs that burrow into the skin and cause itching and irritation, which can make your cat scratch and bite at the area. This is what leads to the skin becoming irritated and the fur to fall out.

There are different types of mange mites that can cause conditions in different parts of the body, and each will need its own special treatment.

  • Feline scabies / notoedric mange – the standard mange-causing mite in cats


  • Canine scabies / sarcoptic mange – more often found in dogs, as you might expect, but easily spread to a cat living in the same household.


  • Cheyletiella mange / walking dandruff – tiny white mites you can see walking around on your pet’s skin, which is how they got their nickname.


  • Otodectic mange / ear mites – as you might expect, these mites burrow into a cat’s ears and cause irritation.


  • Demodectic mange – a type of mange that can happen if a cat has other immune system issues.


How do cats get mange?


Most types of mange are caused by mites which are picked up from other cats or animals, so it is more commonly seen in cats that spend time outdoors.

Mange in cats is a rare condition, however, so it shouldn’t stop you from letting your cat roam safely outdoors.

Mange can also develop due to underlying health problems causing a cat’s immune system to be weakened, allowing a type of mite that normally lives on your cat’s skin without issue (the Demodex mite) to start causing problems.


How to tell if your cat has mange


We’ve talked about some of the signs of mange, but sometimes these can be down to other skin conditions. You should always take your cat to the vet to get it checked out if it’s showing any of the following signs:

  • Intense itching or scratching, or scratching more than normal
  • Restless behaviour and not being able to settle in one spot
  • Licking or grooming a particular area more than normal
  • Patches of fur loss, especially around the face and ears
  • Redness or flaky skin where the fur is patchy
  • Small bumps in the irritated areas


How to treat mange in cats


Your vet will first make sure if it is actually mange or if there may be any other health problems that could be causing symptoms. They may take samples from your cat’s skin and fur to look at under the microscope. Treatment is fairly simple, usually an injection or spot-on treatment is given to get rid of the mites, along with an antibacterial and soothing topical products to help clear up and heal the skin.

While this may be a simple treatment, any cat owner will know how hard it can be to bath a cat or give them medication. You’ll also need to isolate your cat from any other pets you have to avoid them catching the mites, which can also be tough if your cat normally has full run of the house.

It can take a number of weeks before the problem is under control and the mites are completely gone. You should also make sure to thoroughly clean your cats bedding during the treatment and use an anti-mite spray in your home.

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