Image via iStock.com/Valery Kudryavtsev
Demodicosis, or Mange in Cats
Demodicosis, or demodectic mange, is an inflammatory skin disease in cats that is caused by various types of Demodex mites not visible to the naked eye. Demodex mites are commonly found on the skin of mammals, and in most cases are not symptomatic of an abnormal condition, but when the immune system is compromised, by stress or illness, or the body is producing excess oil or hormones, the Demodex population may become excessive, leading to skin and hair problems. When the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles of a cat become excessive, skin lesions, genetic disorders, problems with the immune system, and hair loss (alopecia) may follow.
The severity of symptoms depends upon the type of mite inhabiting your cat. Although mange in cats is rare, Siamese and Burmese breeds appear to be at a higher risk.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms may include hair loss around the eyelids, head, neck, and flank. Additionally, lesions on the skin, scales, and crusty patches may occur.
Mite disorders, such as mange, in cats are rare, thus there is little known about them. However, two of the species of mites that cause mange in cats have been identified. The first, Demodex gatoi, is potentially contagious and may be transmitted between cats in the same household. The second, Demodex cati, is associated with diseases of the immune and metabolic systems, such as diabetes. It has been found in some cases that in impaired immune system or hormone imbalance will allow the Demodex mite to over populate.
Skin scrapings are used to find and diagnose demodectic mange in cats. Hair samples may also help identify the specific mite responsible for the condition.
A urine test may identify other possible causes for the skin conditions, namely those caused by a disorder in your cat’s metabolic system. Alternative diagnoses may include scabies or allergies.