Mange in cats: symptoms and treatment

Does your cat suffer from itching and you fear he has mange? Here are all the signs to interpret and the treatments to heal from this parasitosis.

All cats are prone to this type of skin disease, and it is not excluded that it is also transmissible to other animals living in the house and to humans. There is not a single type of mange, but the cat can be affected by at least four types, each with its own characteristics. Here are all the signs to recognize the various types and the treatments available to defeat this dangerous disease.


  1. Meaning of mange
    1. How the disease develops
    2. The contagion
  2. 4 types of mange and symptoms
    1. Sarcoptic mange
    2. Otodectic mange
    3. Notohedral mange
    4. Demodectic mange
  3. Other symptoms of mange
    1. Restlessness
    2. Hair loss
    3. Wounds and scabs
  4. Cures and remedies
    1. Pesticide remedies
    2. Medicines
    3. Effective active ingredients

Meaning of mange

Also commonly called ‘cat scabies’, mange is a parasitic disease caused by the Notoedres cati mite. Once it has taken root on the skin it causes excruciating itching, which often causes felines to scratch so hard that it consumes entire layers of skin under the nails. The area devoid of hair and skin will become covered with an itchy, bloody scab. It is fully included among the zoonoses, as it is transmissible to both humans and other animals.

How the disease develops

Notoedres cati carries out its life cycle entirely on the cat’s skin. The females of the mite dig tunnels to deposit their eggs in depth: in this way, since it is not an epidermal discomfort, they compromise nerve stimulations. From the eggs are born the larvae that come out of the cat’s body and then mature into sexually mature nymphs: all this in three weeks. Thus the life cycle can resume.

The contagion

It occurs between infected and healthy animals, not only between cats therefore, and through direct contact with the objects on which the mite has settled. It is therefore important not only to keep the two animals well separated, one sick and the other at risk, but also to sterilize and effectively clean the toys and objects that belong to the infected one. Infection with humans can occur, but only if the mange is caused by a particular type of mite. In fact, there are four types of mange, each recognizable through clear symptoms and signs.

4 types of mange and symptoms

There is not just one type of mange, but at least four that differ from each other with very precise details. It is up to the careful owner to understand what mange it is and immediately report the signs to the trusted veterinarian.

Sarcoptic mange

Also called ‘scabies’ it is not the prerogative of cats, but is more common as mange in dogs. The mites responsible for the disease burrow tunnels in the skin and stimulate nerve endings.

Symptoms : The tunnels dug into the skin cause an annoying itch.

Otodectic mange

It is an ear mange as it affects the feline’s ear, also causing external otitis and other infections of this kind.

Symptoms : itching is not an indicative sign as it can be there, and even in an intense way, or not appear or be due to flea and tick bites. What needs to catch our attention will be deep brown ear wax protruding from the ear and crusting around and inside the ear.

Notohedral mange

Prerogative of cats, so much so that it deserves the title of ‘ feline scabies ‘. In this case the responsible mite, the Notoedres cati does not dig tunnels in the auricle but from it reaches the head, neck and other areas of the body externally.

Symptoms: Severe itching causes cats to scratch. The claws engaged in this operation scratch the skin and create crusts on the epidermis. So we pay attention not only to the scabs that we will see with the naked eye but also to the behavior of the cat that is sick.

Demodectic mange

Its name comes from the responsible mite: the Demodex cati, which differs from that of the dog. In cats, it lives in the hair bulb and causes significant hair loss. In this way you will be able to notice some hairless patches that leave a red area of ​​’fresh’ and rosacea skin clearly visible.

Other symptoms of mange

Itching in cats can have various causes, not just mange. Therefore it is important to carefully observe the attitude of the feline throughout the period of the onset of the disease. In addition to itching, therefore, which in itself may not be indicative or even non-existent as in the case of ear mange, we must be careful of the following signs.


The cat appears intolerant to us, cannot rest well and seems annoyed by any form of contact or cuddle.

Hair loss

A sort of leopard-like body will be created, that is, in patches without hair that will alternate with layers covered by the cat’s coat.

Wounds and scabs

Consequences of redness, irritation and peeling of the skin are certainly bloody wounds and scabs. We make sure that when the cat scratches itself, it does not damage the already battered skin even more.

Cures and remedies

Contact your vet for mange diagnosis and treatment

First of all, it is possible to prevent mange thanks to regular antiparasitic prophylaxis: of course this is possible for cats living at home and subjected to regular veterinary checks, but it is much rarer in strays. Cat parasites are the main reason why contact between the domestic cat and the one living on the street is never frowned upon. Once the disease has been diagnosed, it will be up to the veterinarian to adopt the most suitable therapy for our cat.

Pesticide remedies

Always on prescription, it will be possible to buy them at the pharmacy. These are drugs to be applied externally, on the animal’s body, about once a year. They can be given in the form of shampoos, creams, ointments or sprays.


Often they are accompanied by the intake of antibiotics, in case of bacterial infection. Recovery is slow and long, but in most cases it is effective. They can be found in the form of tablets and pills, effective against ectoparasites and endoparasites, but also injections.

Effective active ingredients

Some preparations based on colloidal active sulfur (sulfur bius), which is not toxic to cats, have proven their effectiveness . In addition, there are some molecules, such as selamectin and moxidectin, which have given excellent results in treating the disease. These, too, are often found in local treatment products – ask at the pharmacy!

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