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6 Home Remedies for Treating Cat Scabies

Kathryn Copeland

Home remedies are not an alternative to professional medical advice. If your pet has a serious issue, please consult your vet immediately.

If the word “scabies” makes you shudder, you’re not alone! Scabies is otherwise known as mange, which usually only affects dogs. Cats are prone to scabies that sometimes comes from a different mite that typically infests dogs.

So, if you suspect that your cat might have scabies, the first thing that you should do is see your vet to get an official diagnosis and discuss treatment options. It’s essential to know if your cat actually has scabies or some other skin condition before you consider treating it.

If the mange is mild and your vet okays it, there are several home remedies for scabies that you can do at home.

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What Exactly Is Scabies?

Scabies is a form of mange that is caused by mites. It’s called notoedric mange, which is caused by the Notoedris cati mite, but cats can also be infected with the dog version. This is known as sarcoptic mange, which is caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, and both mites can cause scabies in cats.

The mites are essentially minuscule arachnids that burrow into the top layers of your cat’s skin, where the female will lay eggs. This causes extreme itching and hair loss.

mite
Image Credit: Marc Pascual, Pixabay

Symptoms of Scabies

Depending on what kind of scabies your cat has, the symptoms and treatment might vary, which is why a diagnosis from your vet is helpful.

In general, the signs of mange are:

  • Excessive scratching, biting, and licking
  • Hair loss
  • Inflamed skin
  • Scaly patches on the skin
  • Scabs and sores

Feline Scabies

This is the mange caused by the Notoedris cati mite:

  • Hair loss on the face and neck
  • Hair loss throughout the rest of the body
  • Thicker skin with grayish-yellow crust
  • Sores and infections caused by the cat scratching
  • Skin rashes
  • Intense scratching and biting of the skin
cat with scabies on its ears
Image Credit: NovArt, Shutterstock

Sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei) has similar symptoms and signs as feline scabies. Both conditions are highly contagious, and if you have any other animals in the house, you’ll need to treat them all. You might even find mites on yourself!

Your cat’s bedding should probably be thrown out, and you should wash your own clothing and sheets in hot water with bleach to remove any mites.

Before Treatment

Before you begin treatment for your cat, be sure to isolate them from any other pets in the home. They must stay separated until the scabies have been eradicated.

Be sure to wear gloves while washing the bedding and any of your cat’s toys and even food bowls. You’ll want to clean everything that your cat has come into contact with.

Now that you’re ready, how should you treat your cat’s scabies at home?

1. Lime Sulfur Dip

While this isn’t exactly a home remedy, you can buy lime sulfur dip over the counter and treat your cat at home. Most vets will recommend this for treatment. Most cats won’t take the dip very well, so be sure to speak to your vet for advice on how to make this procedure as stress-free as possible for you both.

You need to bathe the cat before the dip with a shampoo (a medicated shampoo would be best). Then, dip the cat in the lime sulfur that has been diluted with water. It’s meant to stay on the skin and not be rinsed off, so you’ll probably need a cone collar so your cat doesn’t lick it off.

cat bath
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock
Pros
  • It works!
  • Most vets will recommend this for treatment
  • You can buy it over the counter
Cons
  • Needs to be used every day for a week
  • Smells strongly of sulfur
  • Needs to stay on, so you’ll need a cone so your cat won’t lick it off
  • Your cat will not enjoy the dip

2. Flea Treatment

Mites can be eradicated by flea treatments, such as Revolution, which is available to be taken orally or put on your cat’s skin. Topical is the most common.

You apply the contents of a small container in the spot between your cat’s shoulder blades where it can’t be reached (and therefore, won’t be licked off). This is done once a month for 6 months.

treating cat with skin allergy
Image Credit: eremeevdv, Shutterstock
Pros
  • Works well
  • Vets will recommend this treatment
  • Easy to apply
Cons
  • Can be expensive
  • Double-check the side effects
  • Needs a prescription from your vet
  • Might not work

3. Boric Acid

Boric acid occurs naturally in our environment and is known to kill fleas. It’s a common ingredient in cleaners for tear stains on cats and dogs. You can also find natural mange treatment products that contain boric acid.

However, boric acid is known to be toxic for cats, so it’s best to stick with products that have been made specifically for pets.

Boric acid
Image Credit: sulit.photos, Shutterstock
Pros
  • Natural ingredient
  • Is known to kill parasites and treat mange
  • Has antiseptic properties
Cons
  • Uncertain results
  • Too much is toxic for cats

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

The benefits of apple cider vinegar include relieving inflammation and helping kill mites. You can use it on your bedding and around the house, which can help repel fleas and mites — if you don’t mind your home smelling like vinegar, of course.

Pour 50/50 apple cider vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Lightly spray your cat but avoid the head (mucous membranes and vinegar don’t go well together), rub it into the skin, and let it dry. If your cat has any kidney issues, be sure to speak to your vet before implementing this treatment, due to its high acidity.

apple cider vinegar
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock
Pros
  • Easy to find and inexpensive
  • All natural
  • Safe to use
  • Acts as a pest repellent
Cons
  • Don’t use on a cat with kidney issues
  • Might not work
  • Can’t use on the head, which is where scabies starts

5. Olive, Coconut, Castor, and Neem Oils

Using these oils is a safe and effective way to kill mites by smothering and suffocating them. Coconut oil has the advantage of being anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial and will help prevent infection and heal inflamed skin.

There are also many benefits with neem oil. You can rub the oil directly onto your cat’s skin.

mans hand on cat's head
Image Credit: Piqsels
Pros
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to find
  • Can be effective
  • Safe for your cat
  • Can help irritated and inflamed skin
Cons
  • Greasy mess that might get on your furniture
  • Won’t necessarily kill off the mites

6. Honey

Honey is known for having healing properties. It has antifungal and antibacterial capabilities, so it can help with inflammation and infections. Like the oils, it will also suffocate the mites, and you rub it into your cat’s skin.

If you can find Manuka honey, it’s been shown to be quite beneficial in wound healing, so it might be particularly effective in treating mange.

spoonful of honey
Image Credit: Pixabay
Pros
  • Easy to find (may be in your cupboard already!)
  • Inexpensive
  • Has antibacterial and antifungal properties
  • Natural and safe to use
Cons
  • Sticky mess
  • You’ll need a cone collar or another alternative
  • No guarantees that it will work

Something to Think About

Some of these treatments might work well in conjunction with others, but just one treatment of one remedy probably won’t be effective. You need to completely get rid of the mites and heal the skin, and there’s always the risk of a secondary infection that might need treatment as well.

It can take 1–2 months to eradicate scabies and as long as 4 months before your cat grows back the lost hair. Remember to keep cleaning the house and bedding throughout the treatment so the mites don’t come back. Don’t forget that the treatment will also depend on the kind of mites the cat has.

With a few of the more natural remedies, you’ll definitely need to invest in an Elizabethan collar or inflatable donut so your cat doesn’t lick it off.

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Conclusion

Keep in mind that there isn’t a substitute for antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication if your cat’s mange is severe. If your cat is pregnant, nursing, or otherwise ill, you should bring them straight to the vet.

Honey or coconut oil on their own will probably not do that much, so your vet needs to give your cat a diagnosis. It’s easy to mistake a flea allergy for mange, so you want to get the proper treatment for your cat.

Mange is a distinctly uncomfortable and painful condition, so do right by your cat. You know that it will make you both feel better in the long run.


Featured Image Credit: Suharji Esha, Shutterstock

Kathryn Copeland

Kathryn was a librarian in a previous lifetime and is currently a writer about all things pets. When she was a child, she hoped to work in zoos or with wildlife in some way, thanks to her all-consuming love for animals. Unfortunately, she's not strong in the sciences, so she fills her days with researching and writing about all kinds of animals and spends time playing with her adorable but terribly naughty tabby cat, Bella. Kathryn is hoping to add to her family in the near future – maybe another cat and a dog.