Cat Lice Treatment Options

Cat lice is a relatively rare parasite in cats, but once a cat has them, they can quickly pass onto other cats. Luckily the parasites are host-specific and are unlikely to attach to the humans in the house. Still, you should promptly treat your cat before he or she develops complications or the infestation starts spreading throughout your home.

Does Your Cat Have Lice?

Lice are easy to see on a cat's coat. They are oval-shaped, white and wingless and are about half the size of a grain of rice. They are likely wriggling when you see them. Symptoms and cat behavior you might notice when your cat is infected with lice include:

  • A dry, scruffy coat of fur
  • Hair loss
  • Severe itching and twitching
  • Dermatitis
  • Pale gums, a sign of anemia (in the most rare of cases, when blood-sucking lice are present in great numbers; however, many cat lice eat skin rather than suck blood)

Cat worms and other parasites like lice are best diagnosed by a professional, who will be able to give you cat lice medicine and medicated cat shampoo to treat the infestation.

Step 1 - Medicated Cat Shampoo

Your vet may prescribe a pyrethrin shampoo, which you must use as soon as possible on your cat. Be sure to wear protective gloves and lather and rinse your cat thoroughly.

Step 2 - Lice Medicine, Spray or Powder

Once your cat is completely dry, you may be advised to use a pyrethrin spray or powder on your cat to kill the nits that may have been missed during the shampoo. You also may be prescribe a gel cat worm medicine like fipronil to apply to your cat's coat.

Step 3 - Repeat in 12 to 14 Days

You won't be able to kill all of the nits in one treatment, so you will have to repeat the shampooing and then spray/powder/medicine treatment in another 12 to 14 days. This should free your cat of lice.

Step 4 - More Treatments?

Most cat lice can be solved following Steps 1 through 3. However, if your cat still shows signs of lice, your vet may recommend a dip in 2% lime sulfur treatment or he or she may recommend that you shave your cat and remove the nits by hand. However, the nits you see in your cat's fur at this stage may already be inactive and are just stuck in the fur.

Cat lice is a fairly benign problem that's easily treatable. However, should you suspect that your cat has lice, be sure to seek treatment promptly to avoid further complications.