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What is Notoedric Mange?

Scrapings can be viewed under a microscope.
Skin infections can be caused by constant scratching.
Cat with mange.
A dog being washed to treat notoedric mange.
A veterinarian should be consulted if an animal has notoedric mange.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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Notoedric mange is a type of mange which is most commonly seen in cats, although it can spread to dogs, rabbits, foxes, humans, and other animals. It is characterized by the development of patches of scaly, scabby skin and intense itching which can lead the animal to scratch itself severely in an attempt to deal with the itching. It is important to go to a veterinarian to get treatment for notoedric mange, as it is critical to diagnose it properly and to receive the correct medication.

This condition is caused by infection with Notoedres cati, a type of skin-burrowing mite which digs into the cat's skin to lay eggs. The subsequent hatching of the eggs and the spreading of the mite causes itching, hair loss, and the development of crusty scabs, scales, and patches of dry skin. Typically, the infection starts on the ears, and spreads slowly across the face, abdomen, and other parts of the body.

A veterinarian can confirm that a cat has notoedric mange with a skin scraping which is examined under a microscope. Once confirmed, the condition can be treated with a medicated dip or lotion, an injection, or a pill. The cat may need to wear an Elizabethan collar for several days to prevent scratching.

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Cat owners should be aware that many of the insecticides used to treat mange in dogs are not safe for cats, which is why it is critical to go to a veterinarian for treatment, to confirm that the medication will be safe for the cat. Over the counter mange treatments are often not effective, because they are either not formulated for notoedric mange, or they are intended for use on other animals.

This condition is sometimes referred to as feline scabies, although the scabies mite is not involved, because the symptoms resemble those caused by scabies infections. Several other mites can also cause similar infections in cats. Left untreated, notoedric mange can lead to severe skin infections caused by constant scratching, and these infections can lead to septicemia, which is a life-threatening condition.

Some regions of the world are known hotspots for notoedric mange, and veterinarians may see numerous cases every week. In other areas, the condition is relatively rare. Cat owners can reduce the risk by keeping their cats indoors, so that they will not come into contact with infected strays, pets, and wild animals. Keeping cats indoors can also extend their life spans, in addition to preventing infection with a number of other conditions, such as the feline leukemia virus.

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