Lice are small insects that live in hair and feed on the environment provided by your cat’s skin and hair. They move from host to host through direct contact, and have tiny claws that help them cling to hair. Females glue their eggs (known as nits) to hair near the skin where they attach tightly. Two varieties of lice affect cats. Sucking lice feed on your cat’s blood and can cause anemia and protein deficiency, while biting lice feed on skin and scales.
Nits are pale, translucent, and almost oval shaped eggs that take three to four weeks to mature. Once active, you can part your cat’s fur and see them moving through their hair. Eggs can be dislodged with a fine-toothed comb, however the process is laborious and will not kill lice that haven’t hatched. Your vet may have recommendations about different shampoos and insecticides that could help.
- rough, dry coat
- rubbing infected areas
- matted hair
- small wounds
Although generally contagious, the lice that affects cats and other animals is not usually attracted to humans so don’t worry about becoming infected.