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Lice In Cats: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention [2023]

lice in cats

Lice In Cats: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention [2023]

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The thought of lice makes my skin crawl.

Little tiny parasites squirming around eager to hop on your pet and take a free ride. Your cat serves as their live taxi, shuffling them around while they fill up their tanks with gas by piercing your cat’s skin and siphoning out blood. This post is all about lice in cats.

BLECK!

I am fortunate that I have never had lice and neither have my pets. But I have heard horror stories from pet owners that have had to deal with this. It got me thinking about the entire ordeal. I started Googling around and found myself doing quite a bit of research.

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This posts is all about lice in cats: the symptoms, treatment and prevention.

I hope you never have to use this content, but if you do, the information is here.

I also hope it provides some tips on how to prevent cat lice, and you never have to deal with this problem.

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Lice in Cats

The good news is, lice is vary rare in felines. But when they get it, it is highly contagious. It is most common among cats who have not been cared for well, or at all. Sometimes rescues get outbreaks from one rescued cat that transmutes it to the others. Learning to know what signs reveal cat lice and how to prevent it is key in making sure your cat never gets it.

Cat Lice Symptoms

Scratching and itching

Since lice are tiny little parasites that move around, the first sign of them will be a cat who is itching and scratching herself a lot.

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Varying severity of itchiness is seen among cats, so as soon as you suspect your cat may be infected you’ll want to check her thoroughly.

Lice are Visible

When you do a check of your cat be sure to move her fur back so you can see her skin. Look for white or creamy colored specs in her coat and on her in the areas she is scratching.

RELEVANT: Decoding Feline Sensitivity: To Belly Rub or Not to Belly Rub?

Be sure to check in her ears, her armpits and her belly area. Check her back and her hind legs. If you see lice, or anything that resembles them, you will want to start an over the counter lice treatment right away.

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You may want to call your Vet to provide details if the lice outbreak is bad. They can determine if you should come in for an appointment and how fast they need to see your cat.

Restlessness

If left untreated, your cat will become very restless. The lice moving around on her skin will make her irritable.

Since scratching will not remedy the itchiness she is feeling, she will become annoyed and start to be agitated. In extreme cases, a cat who has a heavy dose of lice could act out and become aggressive.

How Do You Get Rid Of Lice In Cats?

The good news is most felines, especially ones who are house cats, will never have to deal with this. Cat lice is pretty uncommon. There are a few things you want to do as soon as you even suspect your cat has lice.

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To effectively eliminate cat lice and ensure your feline companion’s well-being, follow these essential steps:

1. Purchase a Lice Treatment:

  • Acquire a lice treatment specifically designed for cats.
  • Various options are available, with FirstActplus being a popular over-the-counter choice.
  • Administer the treatment precisely as prescribed to achieve the best results.

2. Thoroughly Clean the Cat’s Environment:

  • Wash all cat beds, blankets, and linens to remove any lice and their eggs.
  • Ensure pet dishes are thoroughly cleaned to prevent reinfestation.
  • Consider discarding or washing furry toys that may harbor lice or their eggs.

3. Consult Your Veterinarian:

  • Contact your veterinarian to seek professional advice and guidance.
  • They will assess the severity of the infestation and provide personalized recommendations.
  • Your vet will advise whether an in-person appointment is necessary for further examination and treatment.

There are also sulphar dips and creams that you can purchase over the counter. These will help with eliminating lice and even reduce her itchiness.

It is important to note that sulphar dips will not kill the eggs of lice so you can’t count on this as your primary treatment.

What Causes Lice In Cats?

Lice in common house cats is pretty rare, thankfully. The cats who suffer from lice the most are ones in poor condition and homeless cats, such as ferals.

Two main things cause lice in cats:

  • Lack of cleanliness
  • Exposure to other cats

Prevention Of Lice In Cats

Cats get lice from other cats. There is more chance of them contracting lice if they are not kept groomed and clean.

Steps you can take to prevent your cat from getting lice

Keep your cat indoors

There is no doubt, a cat who is exposed to the elements of the great outdoors has a much higher risk of getting lice and other parasites. There are many other dangers that come with being an outdoor cat such as ingesting poisonous chemicals, coming into contact with a wild animal or mean-spirited person, getting fleas and on and on.

If your cat wants to spend time outside, consider building him a catio. There are DIY ones you can create for less than $100.

To learn more about DIY catios this might be helpful, “Building Your Cat A Window Catio”.

Some cats will walk on a leash and harness. This is a great alternative to roaming free, if you can get your cat to agree.

Limit Exposure to Other Cats

Reduce exposure to other cats unless you are sure they do not have lice. This is especially important for foster parents and rescues. A guest in your home can be a wonderful way to help cats in need, but be sure he is all checked out and parasite free before he stays.

Flea and Tick Treatment

If your cat is outside, even in your yard, catio or cat enclosure, using flea and tick treatment is a good way to prevent lice. The best ones will be recommended by your Vet and safe for both your cats and you.

Collars are one option. Another option is ointment you put directly on your feline, right between the shoulders on her back.

Step-by-Step Directions on Preventing Lice in Your Cat

  1. Regularly Inspect Your Cat: Begin by routinely inspecting your cats for any signs of lice or infestation. Check their fur, especially around the neck, ears, and tail regions, where lice tend to congregate.
  2. Keep Your Cat Clean: Regular grooming is essential to prevent lice in cats. Brush your cat’s fur to remove dirt, debris, and lice eggs (nits) that might be present.
  3. Use Flea Prevention Products: Invest in reputable flea prevention products for your cat, as they often provide protection against lice as well. These products may include spot-on treatments, collars, or oral medications. Consult your veterinarian to determine the most suitable option for your cat.
  4. Isolate Infected Cats: If you have multiple cats, isolate any cat found with lice to prevent the infestation from spreading. Separate the infected cat until they are treated and lice-free.
  5. Consult Your Veterinarian: If you suspect or confirm a lice infestation, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Do not attempt to treat lice in cats on your own without professional guidance.
  6. Follow Veterinary Recommendations: If your veterinarian confirms a lice infestation, follow their prescribed treatment plan precisely. Treatment may involve topical medications, shampoos, or other specific remedies to kill lice and lice eggs.
  7. Clean the Environment: Prevent reinfestation by thoroughly cleaning your cat’s living environment. Wash your cat’s bedding, toys, and any other items they frequently come into contact with. Vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove any lice or eggs that may have fallen off your cat.
  8. Regularly Treat All Cats: Even if only one cat in your household is infested with lice, it’s essential to treat all cats to prevent the spread of lice among them.
  9. Monitor for Recurrence: Keep a close eye on your cats after treatment to ensure the lice infestation does not return. Continue routine grooming and use flea prevention products as recommended by your veterinarian.
  10. Educate Yourself: Learn about the life cycle of lice and their habits in order to better prevent future infestations. Knowledge is key to maintaining your cat’s lice-free status.

Remember that preventing lice in cats is an ongoing process that requires vigilance and proper care. Regular inspections, grooming, and consulting with your veterinarian are essential steps to maintain a lice-free environment for your feline companions.

At this point, we have reviewed the signs of lice in cats, how to treat them and how to prevent them.

There are a couple other questions I bet you still have (if you are anything like me). Let’s see if I can answer them now.

Can People Get Lice From Cats?

Most people are wondering, can I get them?

Can my kids get them?

Will my cat spread them to our friends and neighbors?

No. Cats cannot transmit lice to people and people cannot transmit lice to cats. Thankfully, lice are specie parasites so they can be transmitted from cat to cat, but not cat to other animals. They cannot go to people from cats.

Can Dogs Get Lice From Cats?

No. Lice are species specific and as such will not go from cat to dog, or dog to cat.

How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Cats Lice?

From the time you start your cat on lice treatment, it will take approximately 3-4 weeks. This assumes you do not exposure her to cats with lice to be re-infected and that she takes medication to also kill the lice eggs.

Concluding Thoughts

I feel good that my pets will probably never have to deal with lice, and I hope you do to. Following a few simple safety tips should keep us lice free.

Just to recap; you might try to have your cat be an indoor cat, wear flea treatment when going outside, not exposed other cats without being sure they do not have lice.

If you happen to be someone who has a cat with lice, don’t panic.

First, you are not alone.

Second, you can be free of lice in about a month if you get the treatment now and have everything thoroughly cleaned or replaced.

If you liked this content, you might want to read one of these blog posts:

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