Mange in cats is often thought of as an illness, but it is a symptom of another problem: an infestation of mites. Your feline friend won't suffer from mange unless they have mites, so just because you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there. The mites that cause this condition are tiny and almost impossible to see with the naked eye.


  1. How Do Cats Get Mange
  2. What Are the Common Signs of Mange in Cats
  3. How to Recognize the Signs of Mange and Mite-Infestations
  4. How to Treat a Cat with Mange
  5. FAQ

How Do Cats Get Mange

Cats can get mange in several ways, including:

  • Direct contact with another mange-infected cat or animal;
  • Direct contact with a mange-carrier animal or human;
  • Sharing bedding, fur brushes, food bowls, toys, etc.

According to Veterinary Partner study, two animals don't even need to be close to each other for infection to occur. You, the human, could stroke a mange-infected cat out in public, then carry a mite home to your cat waiting for you at home. They can survive up to three days on your clothes and other surfaces!

What Are the Common Signs of Mange in Cats

Although you won't be able to see the mites themselves, you'll likely notice their symptoms. One of the very first signs is that your cat is scratching excessively, or more than usual. You might even scratch yourself. The mites can't give you mange or breed on your body, but they can still bite you.

Mange Type How it Transmits How it Manifests
Feline sarcoptic mange (feline scabies). Highly contagious through direct & indirect contact. Transfers from wildlife. Snappy and restless cats, sore skin spots, crusty skin, fur loss, biting and licking at skin, constant scratching, little red spots.
Canine sarcoptic mange (canine scabies). Highly contagious through direct & indirect contact. Can infect humans. Severe itching, hair loss, crusty skin lesions, and secondary bacterial infections.
Walking dandruff (cheyletiellosis). Highly contagious through direct & indirect contact. Can infect humans. You can sometimes see these. Restlessness, excessive itching, biting and licking skin, crusty or scaly patches — humans can have bites. Usually a short-lived infection.
Trombiculosis (chiggers). Cats pick up larvae-stage mites from outside. Symptoms similar to those described above, centered on the neck, head, paws, and stomach.
Notedric mange (scabies). Highly contagious to other felines; relatively rare type of mange in cats. Symptoms are as above, centered around the neck and head first, then spreading.
Odectic mange (ear mange or mites). Very contagious through direct & indirect contact. Can infect dogs and cats. Common in outdoor cats. Symptoms focused in the ears include buildup of wax, scratching, itching, shaking heads, redness, sores, and bleeding. A potential secondary infection can spread elsewhere.
Demodectic mange (demodex mange). Not usually contagious but naturally occurring in cats, mange can cause a mild form that happens more in kittens and adults with underlying immune system problems. Fur loss leads to larger bald spots and the same restless and itching symptoms as above, usually focused in areas of the legs, feet, and face/head.

How to Recognize the Signs of Mange and Mite Infestations

Performing an at-home kitty health check every week or so is a good idea. Once you know what is 'normal' for your pet, you'll be able to quickly pick up on anything that is not normal.

Read more: How Often Should You Take a Cat to a Vet?

Checking for Cat Scabies

While you're petting your cat, take a closer look at their fur and skin. Can you see any red marks? Look specifically where you have noticed them scratching, biting, or licking.

Some signs are super obvious, such as a bald spot on the cat's head or elsewhere on the body. Fur loss is a sign that something is wrong. Larger patches would indicate demodectic mange, but smaller patches could be related to any of the above-listed types of mange. Making a note of these types of details will make the diagnosis and treatment of your bet quicker and easier.

Specific Areas

Other common signs of mange in cats will depend on the type of mange and the species of mite. The type can also play a big part in how the mites inflict damage on your pet's body. Ear mites cause demodectic mange, and as the name suggests, the mites live in your feline friend's ears. You'll likely notice a lot of headshaking from your cat. This is their way of trying to scratch the itch inside the ear that they can't otherwise get to.

Crusty, flaky, and scaly skin are all common in mange. They're all common symptoms of a wide range of other skin conditions, however. If your cat has these symptoms, feline scabies could be the cause.

How to Catch Scratching

Excessive scratching, over time, will damage your poor cat's skin, which can then lead to it becoming very red, inflamed, and painful. In some cases, these wounds can become infected, and you might see them weeping pus.

Trying to stop your cat from scratching itself to bits is not always easy when you’re not at home 24/7. That’s where Petcube’s interactive pet cameras can come in handy. With two-way audio, you can tell your pet to stop scratching in real-time… and then hear them meowing back at you in protest!

Once they’ve stopped scratching (and protesting), however, you can dispense a treat to them, right from the same camera!

Read more: Cat Dermatitis: How To Help An Itchy Cat

How to Treat a Cat with Mange

It might all sound like sad news right now, but there's some good news on the horizon. (Finally!) Mange in cats is very easy to treat, and all types are treatable. If the rest of the pets inside your home also suffer from mange, including yourself, it is easily treatable.

You must seek cat mange treatment from a vet. This is not usually something you can treat at home, and the experience will just grow more painful for your cat.

Some cats will require antiparasitic drugs, which are essentially antibiotics for mites and other parasites. Some vets will recommend a series of baths in a sulfur-lime solution, which is a tricky treatment as it can be fatal when ingested.

The strength and aggression of the treatment will depend heavily on the severity of the mange. Some cases can be easily treated with specially formulated shampoos, whereas others will need more lengthy and intensive treatment.

Are you worried about the cost of treating your cat’s emergency medical problems? The Emergency Fund by Petcube is designed to take the stress out of paying for pet and vet care, by costing as little as $1 per day for up to $3,000 worth of emergency pet care per year — for up to six pets!


Can cats get dog mange?

Yes, cats can get dog mange, which is also known as canine scabies and sarcoptic mange. The mite problem causes the same symptoms in both pets: lots of itching, loss of fur, and red, inflamed skin that can turn into weeping sores.

Is feline mange contagious?

Yes, feline mange is contagious, as are the mites that cause it. If one cat in your household has mites, it won't be long before all the cats in your household have them. The mites are thought to be able to live for up to three days without a cat (or other animals) host too, which means they can live on non-host animals, carpets, and other places.

Can mange kill a cat?

Yes, mange can kill a cat. This is rare and usually associated with cases of mange that hasn't been diagnosed, haven't been treated, or have received the wrong type of treatment. Serious skin infections can develop, which can cause potentially fatal sepsis among other things.

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