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Mange in cats

enero 13, 2021


Mange is an animal disease that we have all heard of at least once. It is a disease caused by parasites, and in particular by mites. These are vermiciattoli usually round-like in shape with small legs. They are parasites that very frequently are localized not only on our friend’s skin, but more commonly live and are also present in our home.

In particular, however, the mange mites they are parasites that need infected subjects in order to reproduce. Therefore, their life is strictly linked to the presence of animals on which they can establish themselves and exploit. For this reason, we speak of «obligate parasites», to mean their inability to survive away from the body of a host. In fact, it will be precisely on the host that the parasite will carry out its entire life cycle, which lasts a total of 21 days.

Mange are diseases whose transmission route is commonly contact. It will be essential that the diagnosis is made promptly, to be able to isolate the responsible mite and set up a targeted therapy. The possibility of transmission by contact also makes it necessary toisolation of the infected animal, in such a way that this cannot represent a risk.

It should not be forgotten, in fact, that some mange (fortunately few) can also take root on humans, and therefore it will be essential that the doctor promptly identifies our friend’s mange to indicate how, if necessary, also protect our health. The diagnosis is therefore of fundamental importance, and fortunately it requires very simple procedures, not painful for the animal, and quick. Most of the time it will be possible to proceed by observing samples taken from the animal under an optical microscope, such as skin scrapings, or by means of a peculiar and different protocol depending on the specific pathology. The doctor will then identify the parasite and identify the specific dermatological pathology. However, it should be added that many problems have an itchy nature, therefore, many times in the treatment the doctor will also have to insert a therapeutic protocol for the lesions caused by the animal itself, in an attempt to calm the intense itching.

There are different types of mange and the most important and widespread are: otodectic mange, in general the most widespread and known, the notoedric mange, which infects the entire body surface, leaving evident marks on the head, limbs and neck, sarcoptic mange which represents a disease that is not particularly common in cats but is highly contagious.

In detail, therefore, the revery ear, also called otodectic mange, is supported by a mite called otodectes cynotis, not visible to the naked eye, but only by means of a specific instrument called an otoscope. It is a non-species-specific mite, which can therefore infest both dogs and cats, and highly contagious. The doctor will recognize the movement of this small parasite within the ear wax. Since these are highly contagious parasites, therefore, it will also be possible to find them in other animals, which cohabitating with the first can contract the disease.

These parasites settle inside the ear canal, and their stay here is responsible for an intense and often constant itching. In fact, the animal will show continuous scratching until it becomes excessive, more or less deep wounds, it will tend to shake the head, and to maintain a lateral deviation of the same. Earwax, in the course of otoacariasis, takes on a fundamental aspect. In fact, it is said that earwax in this case is pathognomical, that is, it allows to recognize the disease, having in fact an aspect uniquely associated with it: it will appear as a dark, blackish dry earwax, sometimes associated with blood. It will therefore be essential to intervene with targeted and precise therapy because such a prolonged state can cause serious damage to our friend’s hearing and can cause the so-called otohematoma.


Another mange is that represented by sarcocptic mange, highly contagious disease, caused by sarcoptes scabei, which can affect both humans and animals. It is a mite that, like the others, always prefers life in contact with the animal rather than life outside the host. These mites parasitize the skin of cats of all ages, although they are slightly more common in young cats. The distinctive symptom of the disease is intense itching: the cat tends to scratch intensely, to bite. This symptom is also associated with other symptoms, such as patchy, creased and crusted hair loss. It will be of fundamental importance to set a targeted and precise therapy, also to avoid the establishment of secondary bacterial infections, starting with self-induced lesions by the cat.

Finally we mention another very common problem, represented by notoedric mange. This is one parasitic dermatological disease sustained by the notoedres cati mite, which not only can affect the cat but can also affect other mammals, including humans. This mite normally lives in the superficial layers of the epidermis, burrowing tunnels and feeding on cellular debris. However, in some conditions it may happen that the mite can also survive in the external environment, making it possible to contagion indirectly.

It is therefore one extremely contagious pathology, which therefore constitutes a serious problem in collective contexts, as in the case of catteries or feline colonies.

Symptoms are typical, mostly in reference to the peculiar and characteristic distribution of the lesions. In fact, these first appear as papules or scales located at the edge of the auricle, at a later time they will affect and extend to the entire pavilion, and then to the nose and neck. As the process progresses there may be a conformational change of crusts, which will become thick, yellowish, wrinkled. All this will be accompanied by intense itching and secondary injuries from self-trauma. It is also a disease that most commonly occurs in immunosuppressed animals, such as those with FIV and FeLV.

In short, the dermatological pathologies of cats are many: some, as we have seen, can also cause damage to humans, and this requires acareful evaluation even of symptoms that may seem minor or secondary.