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What Is Cat Mange and How Do I Treat It?

Updated on December 10, 2016

Cat Mange - Ridges on Head

This is Tommy, an orange Tabby cat. We found him in a parking lot in really bad condition.
This is Tommy, an orange Tabby cat. We found him in a parking lot in really bad condition.

Mange on a Cat

This is a cat that we found hanging around a local office park that we walked through regularly. We were familiar with all of the local kitties. Tommy, as we called this Orange boy, looked normal when we first saw him, but then he disappeared for a couple of months, and when we saw him again, this is what he looked like! Such terrible condition. He always acted semi-feral, never letting us touch him. But after seeing him in this condition, I knew I had to do something. I had seen mange before so knew that's what was wrong with Tommy. And to be honest, he looked scary! He looked 'diseased,' which I guess is exactly what he was, not at ease.

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Cat Mange - Loss of Weight

In this photo, you can see how bad off Tommy the orange Tabby cat was. The mange had progressed so far, he could barely see out of his swollen eyes, and wasn't eating or drinking enough, so was severely underweight.
In this photo, you can see how bad off Tommy the orange Tabby cat was. The mange had progressed so far, he could barely see out of his swollen eyes, and wasn't eating or drinking enough, so was severely underweight.

What is mange?

In short, tiny parasites called mites are the cause, mange is the symptom, or the result of the mites infestation.

Mites are highly contagious and spread from one cat to another. The tiny parasites burrow under the cat's skin causing irritation and itching. Cats will usually scratch themselves a lot in response to the irritation, often breaking the skin and causing scabbing. If left untreated, mange can kill a cat.

Tell-tale Signs of Mange

Tommy had all the tell-tale signs of mange. Ridges on his head, caused by the skin thickening, scabs caused from him scratching (mange itches like crazy) along with patches of missing fur. And Tommy's mange was so bad that his eyes were mostly swollen shut, which is probably why he had lost so much weight. Tommy stopped eating with the other kitties and was wandering off on his own. I was afraid that he might be trying to find a place to be alone and die.

I got a sedative from my vet, and mixed it in some soft cat food. I got Tommy to eat the food, and once he was feeling really relaxed, I nabbed him and put him in a carrier and took him to my vet. The vet gave him a shot, an anti-biotic for the infection. And then I treated him with Revolution to kill the mites.

You'll find more in depth articles online about the various kinds of mange, but the treatment ends up being the same. Just be careful because there is one type of mange that is contagious to humans. But, it generally can't survive in a human host for more that a few weeks.

Cat Mange - Eyes Swollen Shut

Tommy after first treatment, caught and confined in one of my bathrooms while he healed.
Tommy after first treatment, caught and confined in one of my bathrooms while he healed.

Tommy's Treatment

I didn't think Tommy was completely feral, because he would meow to me. But he definitely wasn't the friendliest. Nevertheless, I took him home and locked him in one of my bathrooms so I could treat him.

In the photo, Tommy's nose is raw because he freaked out in the carrier and scratched up his nose, trying to get out. I felt terrible for the little guy, but knew if I hadn't gotten him treatment, he was going to die. He calmed down once he was out of the carrier.

He did start to trust me and would let me pet him if he was the one that approached me. I was able to give him the Revolution treatment and to rub cortisone cream on his head, to relieve the itching.

Starting to Heal

In this photo, Tommy still looks bad, but you can see his nose has started to heal, and his left eye is starting to open, barely. Which means the infection and swelling had started to go down.

Cat Mange - First Stages of Healing

Tommy looks pretty rough here, but he was still a sweet kitty. He was experiencing a lot of discomfort but luckily he still had an appetite.
Tommy looks pretty rough here, but he was still a sweet kitty. He was experiencing a lot of discomfort but luckily he still had an appetite. | Source

Cat Mange - First Stages of Healing

The swelling and ridges started clearing up as the infection started healing.
The swelling and ridges started clearing up as the infection started healing. | Source

Ridges on Head

You can feel the ridges on the cat's head, if you're brave enough to touch it. Even though it looks bad, and feels really strange to touch, the kitty still loved being petted and rubbed just like any other cat does. The ridges feel like very thick skin. Kind of scaly. I wondered if the cat's skin and fur would ever feel normal again...it just felt so bad. I couldn't imagine what it felt like to the cat.

As he was healing, some of the scaly skin was flaking off. It really came off if I scratched his head. Really kind of gross, but he enjoyed it SO MUCH!!

Cat Mange - Second Stage of Healing

Tommy LOVED that cat bed, like a little cubby.
Tommy LOVED that cat bed, like a little cubby. | Source

Healing

The anti-biotic was doing its thing, getting rid of the infection. The anti-parasitic was doing it's thing, killing the mites. And the cortisone cream was doing its thing, relieving the itching so Tommy wasn't scratching so much, so the skin was healing. In this photo, you can see that the swelling finally went down enough that his eyes were no longer swollen shut.

More Healing

Not a great photo...but you can see how much better he looks than he did in the first few photos. He was definitely much happier. I could tell he wasn't feeling the discomfort that he had been originally.

Cat Mange - Second Stages of Healing

The ridges on his head are getting smaller, his eyes are opening so the swelling has gone down and he seems a bit happier overall.
The ridges on his head are getting smaller, his eyes are opening so the swelling has gone down and he seems a bit happier overall. | Source

Cat Mange - Third Stage Healing

In this photo you can see that most of the ridges have gone down on Tommy's head. The swelling around his eyes has gone down too. And happily, his nose was healing too.
In this photo you can see that most of the ridges have gone down on Tommy's head. The swelling around his eyes has gone down too. And happily, his nose was healing too. | Source

All Better!

In the final photo below, you can see Tommy after he was completely healed.

He almost didn't look like the same cat! All the ridges went away. His skin felt normal again. All his fur grew back in beautifully!

If you have a cat (or dog) that you suspect has mange, please take him or her to the vet. If left un-treated, mange can kill an animal.

Cat Mange - All Healed

Yay!! Tommy was finally feeling better and all healed up. A happy cat and a happy person! Tommy looks like a totally different kitty, doesn't he? It just takes a little care to help a cat heal from mange.
Yay!! Tommy was finally feeling better and all healed up. A happy cat and a happy person! Tommy looks like a totally different kitty, doesn't he? It just takes a little care to help a cat heal from mange. | Source

© 2011 Amber Killinger

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    • Amber Killinger profile image
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      Amber Killinger 3 weeks ago

      Norma, I hope it all worked out with your neighbor's cat. If you're around I'd love to hear an update.

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      Robyn 3 weeks ago

      Thanks for that snd thanks for caring.Wondered wgat happened next? Surely you kept him.

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      Shannon 3 weeks ago

      You are an angel.

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      Norma Warner 7 weeks ago

      Thank you for the info, the neighbors kitty came here looking for food and it looks like this.. I will get him to the vet in the morning..Cannot stand to see him like this, he is really a sweet kitty.

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      betty/jackpot 4 months ago

      I bought sulfinex cream, maximum strength. second treatment today and he seems some better already. can I alternatethis treatment with apple cider sponge baths.

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      linda brumble 5 months ago

      thank u for sharing this with us.it is so nice that there r people in this world that have a big heart.

      Tommy looks so healthy and happy.

    • Amber Killinger profile image
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      Amber Killinger 5 months ago

      Hi Deb.

      According to the Revolution website, a single dose cured mites when they tested it but it's best to check with your veterinarian. https://www.revolution.com.au/fleas-and-parasites..../tab/ear-mites

      The website also says you can use it once a month.

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      Deb 6 months ago

      How many treatments of Revolution did it take and how close together were the treatments? I have 4 cats and 1 may have it, Vets are not sure. We did 3 treatments, 2 weeks apart. I am trying to decide whether to do 1 more treatment.

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      Gypsy 7 months ago

      We need more people like you.

    • Amber Killinger profile image
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      Amber Killinger 9 months ago

      Giana, that's awesome your family rescued a kitten! Good luck. I hope the mange heals quickly.

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      Giana 9 months ago

      Thanks for beening an animal rescuer hero. My husband rescued a black kitten on Dec 23 with the same condition we plan to take him to the vet tomorrow.

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      tracy 4 years ago

      Tommy could be the stray we have that comes for breakfast and dinner twin. We call him Mr. Orange Kitty. I'm going to talk to my hubby and see if we can get him to a vet. He isn't very trusting and will "pet" me if I just put my hand out. Thank you Amber for the wonderful article.

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      cyra 4 years ago

      You are amazing Amber. I love people like you. Thnkx for helping him.

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      catranchrescue 5 years ago

      God bless you for your kindness! The world would be a better place with more compassionate people like you in it. Being in rescue I see so many horrible things. This has made my day.

    • Amber Killinger profile image
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      Amber Killinger 5 years ago

      Thanks for the kind words truthfornow and corbycat. I felt compelled to help Tommy and I felt so thankful afterwards, that he healed so nicely.

    • corbycat profile image

      corbycat 5 years ago from earth

      wow! thank u for helping tommy:) God loves you. I hope every cat meet a person like you.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Bless you for helping poor Tommy. Glad to see he is well. You are a hero.