Scabies in cats is a skin disease caused by mites from the Sarcoptidae family. Such as Sarcoptes scabiei and Notoedress cati. Scabies disease can also attack livestock animals. The most common symptom of scabies in animals is the presence of lesions on the surface of the skin.
Then the presence of lesions can expands and causes hair loss. Scabies is a zoonotic disease. That means, this disease can be transmitted from animals to humans or vice versa.
In Indonesia, there was an outbreak of scabies in goats in 1983 in Bali and in 1995 in Lombok. In addition to harming farmers, scabies disease also has a great potential for emergence if prevention is not taken seriously. Therefore, it is important for us to know the causes, symptoms, and ways to control scabies disease.
A. Causes of Scabies
Scabies disease or mange in cats is caused by mites from the family Sarcoptidae. This disease was once the object of research by Aristotle and Cicero. They call the mite “lice in the flesh”. There are various species that can cause scabies in mammals. From the various species, Sarcoptes scabiei is the most pathogenic and has many hosts, including cats.
Sarcoptes scabiei is creamy white with scales on its body surface. Has an oval shape convex to the dorsal (top) and flat on the ventral (bottom). In the larval stage, S. scabiei has three pairs of legs, while in the adult and nymph stages it has four pairs of flat and short legs. This is an illustration of Sarcoptes scabiei which causes scabies in cats :
B. Transmission of Scabies
Scabies in cats can be transmitted through direct contact between healthy cats and infected cats. The mites will move and then infest healthy cats. Mites attack by infesting the surface of the host’s skin, then tunneling under the skin layers, namely the stratum corneum and stratum lucidum.
Apart from direct contact, transmission of scabies disease can occur through pet tools such as combs when grooming, although Sarcoptes scabiei is only able to survive outside the host’s body for a relatively short time. That is about 2-3 weeks in a dry environment, sometimes up to 8 weeks. This is because Sarcoptes scabiei is an obligate parasite.
Also Read : “Wet vs Dry Cat Food”
The mite that causes scabies likes moist places. Dirty and long hair makes skin moisture increase. This makes the skin soft and make it easier for mites to infest and cause infection. The presence of scabies in pet animals, of course, makes the atmosphere of the house disturbed.
In addition to the infectious, cats that affected by scabies will experience hair loss. So the cats doesn’t look beautiful. Therefore, pets with scabies disease should be immediately taken to the nearest veterinarian, in order to get proper medical treatment.
C. Symptoms of Scabies Disease
Symptoms that appear from cats infected by scabies are generally the same. The presence of lesions on the surface of the body but has the different locations. In cats, the lesions are usually found around the ears. Whereas in animals suffering from chronic scabies, lesions can be found in the abdominal area (stomach).
Sarcoptes scabiei has a varying incubation period, which is between 10-42 days. After 1-2 days occupying the surface of the skin, the mite begins to penetrate the stratum corneum layer, so that there are many small holes. Then after 4-7 weeks, the mites get under the keratin layer and then the skin surface is covered again with a thick scab and hair loss.
7-8 weeks after infestation, small holes are visible again as the scab peels off. That’s when some mites leave small scars (holes) that open.
Another symptom that arises from scabies is itching in the infected animal. It is characterized by a feeling of restlessness and the animal continues to rub its body against objects around it.
The itching caused and the hair loss that occurs makes the appetite of the sufferer animal go down. This causes the animal to be thin due to malnutrition. If this continues, eating animals will experience death.
D. Prevention and Treatment of Scabies Disease
Disease control can be done by treating animals infected with scabies. Treatment can be done parenterally, dipping (soaking), brushing, spraying, and orally.
Treatment should be carried out periodically at intervals of 1-2 weeks. This is intended so that the mite life cycle is interrupted. Because, culling that is not completed can trigger the growth of mites again.
The general treatment used to treat is parenteral treatment, because it is systemic. The drug used was invermectin at a dose of 200 mg/kg bw administered subcutaneously. In addition, invermectin can also be given orally in tablet form at a dose of 100-200 mg/kg bw every day for 1 week. Keep in mind, the use of these drugs must be with the rules or a prescription from a veterinarian.
Prevention of scabies in cats can be done by always keeping the cage and equipment in direct contact with animals clean. In pets, prevention can be done by bathing pet animals regularly.
E. Diagnosis of Scabies Disease
Diagnosis of scabies disease can be done by looking at the clinical symptoms that occur. In addition, the diagnosis can be made by taking a sample in the form of scrapings. Scrapings are taken in the area of the lesion, the skin is scraped until it bleeds a little.
Then the results of the scrapings are placed on an object glass and dripped with 10% KOH, covered with a cover glass and after 15 minutes the results can be seen with a microscope. Another test that can be done is an ink test on a tunnel under the skin. A positive result is indicated by the presence of a zigzag line.
Both examinations have weaknesses, namely in cases of early scabies mites are difficult to isolate from skin scrapings. Clinical symptoms that appear are also the same as various other skin diseases. Therefore, a serological test, ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) has been developed for the diagnosis of scabies.
Scabies in cats is a disease caused by mites from the family Sarcoptidae. With a predilection for the skin surface. Scabies is a zoonotic disease. So, if a pet is attacked by scabies, it should be treated intensively and immediately. Because the treatment that is not done completely can cause a secondary infection of the wound. Namely a fungal and bacterial infection that causes an abscess (pus) and a foul odor.
Handling of scabies in Indonesia can be done at the nearest veterinary clinic. Awareness of pet owners, especially dogs and cats should be raised. That is by always keeping the cage clean, cleaning pet animal equipment, and providing food with a good nutrition.
Thank you for reading the article about scabies in cats. Hopefully this article can help your day …
- Prasetyo Dodik., et al. Confirmation of Scabiosis Diagnosis by Skin Cytology Method in Domestic Cats in Malang City. Veterinary Letters. ARSHI (Indonesian Veterinary Hospital Association). ISSN 2581-2416.
- Tjahjati I. 2002. Effectiveness of Doramectin for the Treatment of Scabies in Cats. J. Vet Science. Vol. XX No. 1.