Demodex Gatoi

Cats that scratch and itch themselves can be really tough to diagnose and also treat. Cats often can't have the same meds as dogs and getting meds into them is HARD! An exam is critical and also some relatively simple diagnostic tests. We always check these guys for ringworm (it's a big problem in cats) and then often do a tape prep. A tape prep is where you take clear packing tape, press it to the skin and hair and it picks up what is there. Then we look at it under the microscope. We typically find: bacteria, yeast, and mites sometimes. We often will do a skin scraping. That is where we scrape a scalpel blade across the skin many times and look at it under the microscope. This procedure picks up mites that are in the hair follicles. Sometimes we need to do this procedure several times to find the mite since they are hiding so well. Have a look at the pictures of this cat. He was losing patches of hair and then started scratching. We found a mite called demodex gatoi that causes itching and scratching. IT DOESN'T LIVE ON PEOPLE but can be very contagious to other cats. Actually very little is known about this mite and it can be seen in cats with feline leukemia and FIV. The treatment is to dip them in a foul smelling dip called lime sulfur. There is some information that another medication can work but there are potential side effects. All cats in the house should be treated.