Democidiosis (Red Mange) Symptoms in Cats

Democidiosis, also known as red mange, is an uncommon condition that affects a feline’s skin. Two separate species of parasitic mite are responsible for all cases of red mange in cats, one species that has not yet been given a taxonomic name, and another species called Demodex Cati. The mites themselves cause an inflamed rash, which is usually not a very serious health hazard, presumed merely to be uncomfortable for the cat and repulsive for the cat’s owner. The real damage caused by a feline case of red mange is caused by secondary bacterial infections that often gain a foothold in the cat’s body by infecting a red mange rash.

Which Cats Are More Likely to Contract Red Mange?

Because feline cases of red mange are relatively rare, there has not been a great deal of research into which kinds of cats are at a greater risk of contracting the condition. One trend is that most recorded cat cases of red mange are reported to have arisen during or shortly after the cat was administered multiple doses of steroids to treat another illness. Some veterinarians think the steroids weaken the immune system, which opens up the body for parasitic infection. Cats with weak immune systems are probably more likely to become infected with red mange, whether the reason is a cat’s very young or old age, prior illness or if the specific breed of cat in question has a relatively inferior immune system, as is the case in Siamese and Burmese cats.

Symptoms of Red Mange in Cats

Red mange consists of rashes on various parts of a cat’s skin, usually around the or face. These lesions cause the hair in their immediate vicinity to fall out, exposing a mixture of red bumps, pustules, draining nodules and ulcerated areas. They can either be restricted to localized areas of the cat’s body, or spread across wide portions of the cat’s skin. In the localized form, cats can exhibit scaly skin on their eyelids, ears and neck, while cats with the generalized form can have rashes all over their bodies. Red mange rashes usually first appear around the mouth, eyes and forelimbs, and then spreads from there. Sometimes cats with red mange suffer from almost constant itching in the affected area, while at other times this symptom is not present. In extreme cases, the affected area produces an unpleasant odor, but cat owners usually see the rash long before it is developed enough that they can smell it. A less conspicuous symptom of red mange in cats is enlargement of the lymph nodes.


It's rare for a case of red mange in a cat to resolve itself without medication, so you will most likely have to put some effort into treatment if you want your pet to get better. You can kill off the mite population infecting the cat by applying a two percent lime sulfur dip product, called LymDyp, every five to seven days. LymDyp is dangerous if used other than recommended, so always administer it exactly as the veterinarian prescribed it. Veterinarians recommend that an e-collar be used to prevent the cat from licking fur that has been treated with LymDyp, until it is fully absorbed.

The probability of an average house cat contracting red mange is very low, but the disease has obvious symptoms, making it a very easy condition to diagnose at home. Because diagnosis of red mange is so simple, cases of the disease can be treated early in its development.