Shampoos used to rid humans of lice can injure or kill a cat.
Like most pets, cats are subject to all sorts of parasites, including lice. There are several steps to take to get rid of lice in cats, but the main method of treatment is to wash the cat with an appropriate shampoo. There are several shampoos on the market that eliminate various types of parasites, including lice, although this cannot be mentioned on the packaging. The main thing to remember is to buy a cat-specific product. Shampoos used for humans don’t work, and those used for other pets, specifically dogs, can actually injure or kill a cat.
Veterinarians can give you helpful tips on how to get rid of head lice.
Lice are species specific. The type of louse that children get is not like that of cats. Regardless, itching is the main symptom in all types of head lice infestations. In a cat, the itching can be more intense and they can sometimes exhibit a scruffy coat and hair loss. Cat lice survive by biting them and drinking their blood.
If you suspect a cat has lice, it needs to be examined carefully. Head lice appear as oval-shaped flat objects and may look like dandruff at first glance. The main difference is that the lice will either be moving or they will be in the egg stage known as nits and will be stuck to the hair. Nits don’t move if you touch them, and they usually can’t be removed from the hair.
Cats are unlikely to spread lice to humans.
The next step is to buy a shampoo that kills lice, either at a store or a vet. Regardless of the shampoo used, it will usually have to be applied multiple times, usually at 10-14 day intervals, depending on the type of shampoo used. Eggs will likely not be removed even after washing, so shaving the cat may be the best option.
Shampoos eliminate parasites from cats, including lice, but don’t use one formulated for dogs as it can actually harm or kill a cat.
Any instrument that comes into contact with the cat, such as combs, will need to be soaked in alcohol and carefully cleaned. Areas of the home, such as the cat’s bedding, that have come into contact with the cat’s fur should be fully vacuumed and washed, if possible. Many cat lice shampoos are effective enough that a cleanse of possibly infested areas is sufficient, as shampoos continue to kill lice on contact.
Even if the cat no longer shows symptoms, they need to be examined for several weeks after the last shampoo to see if the infestation is gone. Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence and cat lice are generally not contagious to humans. Keeping a cat well groomed can go a long way in preventing cat lice.