Mange in Cats: Contagious To Humans?

Mange in CatsMange in cats, also called feline scabies, occurs when tiny mites called Notoedris cati burrow into a cat’s skin. Cats may also be infected by mites called Demodex cati, which also cause mange in dogs, but this type of mange is much less common in cats. These mites lay eggs, which hatch and produce new mites. For mange in cats, the average mite life cycle lasts two to three weeks and will continue to propagate if untreated, sometimes resulting in burrows as deep as several centimeters. Sick cat symptoms include hair loss on the neck and head and severe scratching that can lead to secondary infections. The infection eventually travels down to the legs and abdomen and, if left untreated, the skin becomes thick, wrinkled, and covered with crusts. Cat hair loss continues to worsen as the infection progresses and is perhaps one of the earliest noticeable signs of mange.

Mange in cats can infect males and females of all breeds and ages, and is transmitted directly from cat to cat, often infecting entire liters of kittens. It is most common in outdoor cats simply because outdoor cats come into contact with more strays that do not get veterinary care. There is some question as to whether or not mange in cats is contagious to humans. The answer is that yes, humans can become infected by Notoedris cati mites. However, the infection is often self-limiting and only causes a slight and temporary itch. This sort of infection in humans usually requires no treatment, as opposed to cat skin problems, which require weeks of special shampoos and topical dip treatments. If you are concerned about your cat, and ultimately you, contracting mange, your best method of prevention is to keep your cat away from stray and infected cats. Insist that any and all grooming tools your groomer uses are thoroughly disinfected and always use a reputably clean groomer.