I'm a cat lover to the max! I have helped rescue and re-home over 100 cats. My family cats fill my heart with joy every day.
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. When we saw him again, this is what he looked like! He was in much worse condition. He had always acted semi-feral, and had never let me touch him. But after seeing him in this condition, I knew I had to do something. I had seen mange before, so I knew that was what was wrong with Tommy. He looked diseased and a little scary, as cats with mange often do.
Is This Cat Too Scary?
Mange Symptom: Weight Loss
What Is Mange?
In short, tiny parasites called mites are the cause, while mange is the symptom/result of the mites' infestation.
Mites on cats are highly contagious and can 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.
Types of Mites
There are several different types of mites that can infest cats. Here are a few of the most common.
- This particular kitty had feline scabies, aka Notoedris cati. These mites burrow under the skin and generally affect mostly the head and neck area.
- If you've ever had a cat that constantly scratches and paws at their ears, that cat may have had Octodecttes cynotis, aka ear mites. This is the most common type of mite to infest cats.
- Cheyletiella blakei causes extreme itchiness and skin irritation including flaky and/or reddened skin.
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), and patches of missing fur. Tommy's mange was so bad that his eyes were mostly swollen shut, which is probably why he had lost so much weight. Tommy may have stopped eating with the other kitties and begun wandering off on his own. I was afraid that he might have been 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 enticed Tommy to eat the food, waited for him to relax, then nabbed him and put him in a carrier to bring to the vet. The vet gave him an antibiotic shot for the infection. Next, 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. Do be careful, because there is one type of mange that is contagious to humans. Generally, however, it can't survive in a human host for more than a few weeks.
Mange Symptom: Eyes Swollen Shut
Tommy's Mange 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 has begun to open, indicating reduced swelling due to the treatment of the infection.
First Stages of Healing
First Stages of Healing
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!!
Second Stage of 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.
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.
Second Stage of Healing
Third Stage of Healing
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 untreated, mange can kill an animal.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2011 Amber Killinger
Melissa Sherriff on December 04, 2019:
My cat keeps wanting to lick the cortizone cream off.
Stryker Hendricks on October 18, 2019:
Hi we have a baby black cat with mange and I was wondering if you guys could come over and get it if so thx
Jessica on October 08, 2019:
Hi! We just rescued a 4 week old kitten who a neighborhood cat had abandoned and I brought her into my home. We absolutely adore her but I started to notice a small patch of hair from her paw missing and then over the next 2 days hair on her ears missing. I've never had a cat before so I am wildly ignorant. We rushed her to the vet and turns out it is mange. She is being treated with a topical cream the vet prescribed and I made a safe little quarantine for her but I am panicking because I have 2 very small children in my home and this kitten is very affectionate. All I read is how contagious it is. How concerned should I be of the mange spreading to my family?
lee on October 06, 2019:
Jenn on March 08, 2019:
Thanks for your wonderful work!
I've treated a couple of cats with mange in our neighbourhood that at first I couldn't get close to. I started by giving them food and letting them eat peacefully, staying longer and longer and getting closer and closer over time. It still hasn't worked with a couple, but hopefully a suggestion that might help someone else.
Amber Killinger (author) on February 18, 2019:
Someone recently emailed me asking, "How can you treat an animal you cannot get near?" in regards to feral cats. My recommendation is to try to trap the cat to get it to a veterinarian. I don't know of a way to treat a cat that you cannot get near. You may want to ask your local vet to see if they have any other suggestions.
Amber Killinger (author) on July 23, 2018:
You may want to check with a local vet to see if there's anything you can put in their food. My vet gave me Revolution which is an external treatment that you put on their skin (not safe for ingesting) and cortisone cream to help ease the discomfort. Good luck! I hope you can help that kitty.
Daddyofthedrama on July 22, 2018:
Hi I have fixed Ferrell cats one is showing mange is there a pill to put in food to help cat cat is not looking good please need help thanks
Amber Killinger (author) on May 29, 2018:
Hi Lexy. It was several years ago so I don't remember for sure. I think it was probably about a month.
Lexy on May 27, 2018:
how long did it take for the mange to totally heal?
Amber Killinger (author) on September 25, 2017:
Norma, I hope it all worked out with your neighbor's cat. If you're around I'd love to hear an update.
Robyn on September 25, 2017:
Thanks for that snd thanks for caring.Wondered wgat happened next? Surely you kept him.
Shannon on September 24, 2017:
You are an angel.
Norma Warner on September 01, 2017:
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.
betty/jackpot on June 19, 2017:
I bought sulfinex cream, maximum strength. second treatment today and he seems some better already. can I alternatethis treatment with apple cider sponge baths.
linda brumble on May 23, 2017:
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 (author) on May 03, 2017:
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.
Deb on April 19, 2017:
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.
Gypsy on March 16, 2017:
We need more people like you.
Amber Killinger (author) on December 26, 2016:
Giana, that's awesome your family rescued a kitten! Good luck. I hope the mange heals quickly.
Giana on December 25, 2016:
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.
tracy on September 19, 2013:
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.
cyra on September 18, 2013:
You are amazing Amber. I love people like you. Thnkx for helping him.
catranchrescue on October 21, 2012:
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 (author) on October 26, 2011:
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 from earth on October 24, 2011:
wow! thank u for helping tommy:) God loves you. I hope every cat meet a person like you.
Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on October 24, 2011:
Bless you for helping poor Tommy. Glad to see he is well. You are a hero.