HEALTH & CARE

How to Get Rid of Cat Lice: No More Itching

kitten itching
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

Parasite infestation is one of the most frustrating things to deal with. It is even more frustrating when the parasite in question is affecting your cat, and it is lice. But no worries; in today’s piece, we will show you how to get rid of cat lice.

The thing with lice infestations is that they are not as common as those from other small parasites (fleas and ticks). When they do happen though, they can be just as troublesome to deal with.

We know that treating infestations in your cat requires a great deal of care, time, and attention. We have taken that into consideration when coming up with ideal ways of getting rid of lice infestations in your cats and preventing future occurrences.

This article contains useful information on how to identify cat lice symptoms, determine treatment methods, and utilize best practices to ensure total eradication. We will also let you know what you need to do in order to purge your house of all things lice so that you wouldn’t need to deal with reinfestations.

What is Lice?

louse

Lice are very small parasites that live on the body of their hosts, sucking off blood to survive while harming the host in the process. Cat lice are so small that they cannot be noticed from afar but not so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eyes.

While cat lice are not as common as other types of infestations, their presence on the cat’s body can lead to a full-scale infestation of worms.

See Also: How to Tell If a Cat Has Worms

It should also be noted that cat lice stay on a cat throughout her life, unlike other parasites that jump from pet to pet.

How Cats Get Lice

dirty cat

A cat can get lice in a variety of ways. The first and foremost cause of lice is living in unsanitary/poor conditions. Lice, like most parasites, breed and survive in a poorly kept areas.

Even though lice cannot jump from one cat to the other, a cat still runs the risk of being infected in a multi-cat household. This could be as a result of shared grooming brushes, beddings, etc.

Can Humans Get Lice from Cats?

It is just natural that you as the cat parent would want to know if you can get the infestation from your cats. We are glad to let you know that lice infestations are host-specific. That means the cat lice won’t hop onto humans and would rather prefer to hop onto another cat.

So, no, you can’t get lice from your cat

How to Confirm Lice Infestations in Cats

cats having lice

There are different ways to spot a lice infestation in your cat.

  • The most commons is by noticing hair loss. You could then start to notice some parts of the cat’s coat being unusually scruffy and dry. This will be accompanied by constant scratching of the affected regions by the cat.

  • You will usually be able to spot the lice by parting the hair on the cat’s body. The infestation will be featured in the form of nits (lice eggs) or matured lice on the skin. In some instances, you will even see the lice as they are moving through the fur (on the skin) of your cat.

  • Small white and brown patches on the skin and fur should also tell you that your cat might have some lice on her body.

At these stages, you can still make use of a variety of home remedies that we are about to suggest.

However, when you notice that the cat has started suffering from a case of severe blood loss (usually shown in how weak the cat would tend to become), you should take her to a vet. Anemia is not an uncommon side effect of cat lice infestations.

Upon the spotting of white and brown patches on the skin and fur, a vet will be in the best place to confirm the presence of lice and rule out the possibilities of these being caused by fleas and ticks or even allergies instead.

See Also: How to Treat Cat Allergies

The vet will also look for nits and/or the matured lice by parting the hair of the cat. Don’t be surprised if you are asked questions about the medical history of your cat. You could also be quizzed on changes in behavior and outlook such as hair loss, excessive scratching, and other possible symptoms.

So that you don’t end up treating the cat for another infestation (or going about the treatment plan the wrong way), we recommend taking your cat for a vet visit first before treating your cat for lice infestations.

Treatments of Lice in Cats

Once you have confirmed the presence of lice on your cat(s), the next thing to do is work towards totally eradicating them. The good news is that this is not as hard as it sounds.

Here’s what you should do

#1: Isolate the Cat

isolating a cat

There are more than one reasons why you should isolate the cat. It is especially important to do this in a multiple cat household so that you can contain the infestation in one cat and prevent the spread to others.

Likewise, isolation serves the purpose of making your cleaning job easier. Your cat shouldn’t come in contact with bedding materials or other furniture, because otherwise, it will be all the more challenging for you to totally eradicate these parasites from your home and prevent future occurrences.

A free room in the house/storage area can be prepared for your cat to stay in during this period of treatment until she gets better.

#2: Medication

medication for cat

You should ask the vet to give you a prescription that will work well for your cat. He/she will also know the right dosage for your cat, based on the existing conditions and level of lice infestations.

Even if it looks like all the lice have cleared up, you should not stop using the medication until the full dosage has been reached.

#3: Lice Comb

lice comb

Even if your cat is currently already on medications to get rid of all the lice, it won’t hurt to help it along by using a lice comb. The lice comb is a fine-toothed comb. This is considered one of the most effective yet chemical-free ways of getting rid of lice on your cat’s body.

When using a lice comb, make sure you keep it away from other cats in the house. To start with, dampen the body of the cat and dry her fur slightly. Put the comb at the head of the cat and run it lightly to her tail in a gentle, sweeping motion. After each full stroke, rinse the comb by placing it under running water for a few seconds.

The importance of rinsing is to get out the possible lice that the comb could have caught, preventing a case of reinfestation. For proper care, it is advised that you repeat this process two to three times a week.

#4: Olive Oil

olive oil

Olive oil is yet another chemical-free way to get rid of your cat’s lice. In fact, it can be used hand-in-hand with any other methods of cat lice removal.

Put your cat in a wash tub and douse her with olive oil. Make sure you rub the olive oil onto their skin and not pour it over them—you don’t want to accidentally get it into the cat’s eyes, mouth, or nose.

After covering the cat in the oil, use your hand to work it thoroughly into their coat. Allow the oil to stay on the cat’s body for about 15 minutes, after which the lice will start to slip free from the skin.

Rinse off the oil with some water and apply shampoo to the cat’s fur afterwards. For the best results, we advise repeating this process about once or twice per week for three weeks—the period of time it would have normally taken for lice to complete its life cycle.

#5: Dish Soap

dish soap

There is a lot you can do with dish soaps too. Fill up a small tub (you can use your kitchen sink if it’s clean enough) with some warm water and dish soap. Get your cat into the soapy water and lather her up. Make sure you don’t get any soap or water into the cat’s eyes, nose, or ears in the process.

Work the soapy water into the cat’s fur with gentle, sweeping motions throughout the body. Afterwards, let the cat stay in the basin for about 10 minutes before you rinse her off with clean, warm water.

This should be done twice a week for a total of three weeks which represents the life cycle of the average lice.

#6: Shaving the Fur

shaving a cat

This was put last on this list for a reason. It will usually be the last thing you consider, and you should only make the decision to do so based on your vet’s recommendations. You could even get a second opinion if you get such a verdict.

You will be asked to shave off the cat’s hair when it has been badly matted from the lice infestation. That would be the only way to get rid of the bad hair and get to the bottom of the fur where proper treatment can then be taken to kill the lice.

See Also: How to Shave a Cat

Prevention of Future Occurrences

laundry

Preventing future occurrences is as important as treating lice in cats. Parasitic infestations are usually challenging to treat not because they are so stubborn on their own but because of their rate of reinfestation.

The cat’s bedding needs to be cleaned. Clean out carriers, wash all the carrier mats/rugs, and pay extra attention to every other piece of cloth she spends time on in the house.

If you’ve got plastic pillow storage bags, put your affected pillows in them for ten days. That should be enough time for all the lice present to drop dead.

We don’t need to tell you that cats don’t just limit themselves to their own beddings. They also have a habit of roaming and sleeping on other pieces of furniture in the house.

Your couches, chairs, and ottomans all require special care to remove lice that could be present on them. The beds and beddings in your house are all possible locations for cat lice to lie in wait.

They could be present on such materials as nits or even in their matured form. Left untreated, there is the high chance your cat will come across them and pick up another strain of infestation.

Take all the pillowcases, blankets, sheets, top sheets, and bedding materials in the house to the laundry. Tend to them individually to make sure all the lice and their eggs have been totally eradicated.

Vacuuming is also a great way to get rid of the lice and its eggs that could have settled on your furniture. For hard surfaces, use a disinfectant spray that is compatible with the surface material and finishing.

If your cat has a tree, wash it thoroughly. Her toys are not left out of this cleaning routine. Whatever you can’t wash or vacuum, keep them in a tightly-sealed plastic bag for a minimum of ten days.

Wrap Up

healthy cat

Now that you know everything you need to about handling your cat’s lice infestations, you should probably get to doing it. It shouldn’t take more than ten days to eradicate the presence of lice in your house completely.

If you’ve got any other proven home remedy recipes that have helped you get rid of lice on cats, do share in the comments. If you tried any of the methods mentioned above, please let us know how it went. Lastly, do check out our article on how much diatomaceous earth for cats. Diatomaceous earth is another great way to take care of annoying parasites on cats.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.

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