We all know that cats can get fleas from their environment if preventative measures are not taken, but what about lice?
Since lice can live in human hair, you might be wondering whether they can also affect your furry friend.
This guide has all the information you need about cats and lice, including whether cats can get lice, the symptoms of lice infestation in cats, and what you can do about this pesky problem.
CAN CATS GET LICE?
Here’s the answer to the question you came here to ask: yes, cats can get lice.
With that being said, let’s clear up one myth: cats can’t get lice from humans, and humans can’t get lice from cats. Many cat owners panic when they find out their cat has lice, or when they themselves get lice, because they’re worried about inter-species contamination.
Cats and dogs can only be affected by certain species of lice, and these lice can’t survive on humans, so you can breathe a sigh of relief in that respect.
SYMPTOMS OF LICE IN CATS
Although you can’t catch lice from your cat, a lice infestation can be very uncomfortable for your feline friend, so you should still look out for signs and symptoms so that you can get the infestation treated quickly if it occurs.
Some telltale signs that your cat may have lice include:
HOW TO TREAT A CAT FOR LICE
So, you’ve discovered that your cat has lice. What now?
If you think your cat has lice, the best thing to do is take them to the vet as soon as possible.
Let the receptionist know what the problem is (they should ask you, anyway) before you make your appointment so the vet practice can ensure that your cat doesn’t come into contact with any other animals and potentially spread the lice.
The vet will thoroughly examine your cat and assess the severity of the lice infestation, which is something that is difficult for the untrained eye. After evaluating the nature of the infestation, the vet will prescribe an appropriate form of treatment.
Treatment for lice infestations in cats is usually an insecticide applied directly to the skin, typically on the back of your cat’s neck where they can’t lick it before it dries.
Additionally, your vet will recommend a suitable preventative treatment plan moving forward to ensure that your cat doesn’t get lice again. This is usually also a topical insecticide which needs to be applied monthly, every 3 months, or sometimes every 6 months depending on the specific product.
Sometimes, lice infestations can be difficult to diagnose through a physical examination, especially if only a few lice are present.
If your vet isn’t able to come to a diagnosis based on observation alone, they may want to take a skin culture. The sample can then be looked at under a microscope to identify the presence of lice.
PREVENTING LICE INFESTATION IN CATS
Whether your cat currently has lice or not, it’s very important to take preventative measures to avoid this kind of infestation in the future.
Here are some things you should start doing today to protect your cat against lice:
Regular Preventative Treatment
As we mentioned earlier, your vet will recommend preventative treatment moving forward to stop future lice infestations. However, you shouldn’t wait until you have to take your cat to the vet for lice before you start this treatment.
Cats should have at least one routine check-up per year, starting at the age of nine weeks, so you should discuss preventive flea, lice and worm treatment with your vet at your cat’s first appointment.
If you have multiple cats, it’s vital to make sure that all cats are up to date on their treatment to avoid the possibility of lice spreading from one to another.
In addition to living on skin and in fur, lice can jump around and multiply in your cat’s bedding, so it’s important to wash this on a regular basis, even if your cat is receiving preventative lice treatment, to be on the safe side.
Experts recommend washing your cat’s bedding every other week. It’s also a good idea to vacuum the bedding between washes and supplement your cleaning routine with some pet bedding spray.
Most cats can benefit from grooming to some extent, but this one is particularly important if you have a long-haired cat breed. Grooming won’t actually prevent lice, but it will help you to notice changes in your cat’s fur and skin earlier, which is key to quick and effective treatment if lice are discovered.
Grooming also helps to prevent matting, which can make lice harder to spot, so grooming your cat on a regular basis is one of the best ways to monitor for the presence of lice.
This tip ties into our previous suggestion about grooming, but even if your cats are regularly treated to prevent lice, it’s important to stay alert for the symptoms of lice.
Keeping a watchful eye on your pets will help you to notice any issues early, increasing the probability of successful treatment.
Although cats can’t get lice from humans, and humans can’t get lice from cats, discovering that your cat has lice can be distressing because of the discomfort it causes your pet.
Luckily, there are plenty of effective treatments for lice in cats, including preventative treatments to stop infestation from occurring. A visit to your local vet will soon get your feline friend on track to being lice-free again.
Make sure to monitor your cat for symptoms of lice, including scratching, hair loss, restlessness, and visible lice or eggs. You should ensure that your cat is up to date with their preventative lice treatment, wash their bedding regularly to stop lice in their tracks.
At Love4Cats, our practice involves consistent collaboration with licensed veterinarians and reputable industry experts. However, it's important to note that the content provided on Excited Cats is not intended as veterinary advice. While we strive to enhance your understanding of feline care, the information presented on this blog should not replace professional veterinary guidance.