The biting louse Felicola subrostratus may be found on cats. The life cycle is confined to the host and takes 14—21 days. The eggs are firmly attached to the hairs. After hatching, there are three nymph stages before the adult develops. Lice are very host specific and are highly contagious, either directly or via grooming implements.
Pruritus and scaling of the dorsum are the primary clinical signs. These are usually mild, but an occasional case may develop severe self-trauma. Lice infestations are most common in young or debilitated animals, and in overcrowded or multi-animal households.
A diagnosis is made by carefully examining the coat for adults or eggs. Both are visible to the naked eye and can be confirmed with microscopy. An acetate tape impression is a convenient way to pick up lice from the coat, but coat brushings and hair pluckings are also useful.
Treatment options include selamectin, which is licensed for feline lice infestation. There are also reports of the use of fipronil spray applied on one occasion. Lime sulfur dips, permethrin or selenium sulfide shampoos can be applied weekly for two life cycles over 6 weeks. It is useful to clip heavily infested animals to reduce the burden of eggs and adults and allow effective use of topical therapies. Ivermectin has also been shown to be effective and may be useful for feral cats.
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