We are all familiar with the problem of lice in humans, but can cats get lice as well? This question is one that does come up on occasion and the answer is yes. These parasitic insects can also thrive in the hair or fur of cats. Lice need blood to feed on for survival and they can therefore survive on many species of warm blooded mammals. There are different varieties of lice however, so you needn’t bother yourself about picking up lice from your pets. Lice are not as common in dogs and cats as they are in humans. Animals with poor nutrition, poor overall health, or very old or young cats are more at risk for lice infestation. Lice are very common in cats, especially ones with improper nutrition.
Cat lice can be easily seen with the naked eyes as can their eggs and nits. There are three types of lice that affect cats, two of them bite and the other is blood sucking. Lice that occur in cats look very similar to those which occur in humans. But they are not contagious between animals and people. The color of cat lice is usually light grey or white and the nits resemble tiny grains of sand. They are flattened and pose no wings. They spend their entire life cycle on the pet. Blood sucking lice are known as anolpura; those which do not suck blood but rather chew skin are known as mallophaga. Lice lay eggs on the hair shaft. The cat lice life cycle takes about 21 days to complete.
Symptoms of Cat Lice
The most visible sign is scruffy and dry hair coat. Cat hair loss may occur and cat may itch at times severely. If blood sucking lice are present, cats might get anemia.
Cat Lice Treatment
Of all of the parasite in cats, lice are the easiest to eliminate and they pose no threat to your children. Treatment is usually simple; you can use medicated shampoo available for cats. After the cat is thoroughly dry, some spray or powder can be applied. You need to make sure you use medicated shampoo specifically made for cats. You might have to repeat this again after 10 to 14 days since all the nits will not be killed. Keep the surroundings clean, as lice cannot live life off the host for a long time. If you suspect that your pet has lice or any other ectoparasite, please see your vet for a definitive diagnosis. Lice are easier to treat as compared to fleas and other parasites. Your vet might suggest some shampoo or spray to get rid of cat lice.