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Harvest mites in cats

It's now (unfortunately!) late Summer and with the looming Autumn, a new parasite is very keen to join our outdoor parties.

Our incoming party crashers are none other than Neotrombicula (or just Trombicula) autumnalis, who go by the street name of harvest mites. These mites can affect cats, dogs and even an unwary human but they seem to love our purring pals a little more.

They are outside in the soil and plants, just hoping for a furry mammal to pass by them and then they can hitch a ride to latch onto skin. Only the 6-legged larvae cause issues, the nymphs and adults with 8 legs live in the soil and prefer to wait there for another host. They can be preferentially found on the head, especially around the eyes and ears.

Will you be able to see them on your cat? Adults are really small and while they are not microscopic and you might notice small, red clusters of dots on your cat that weren't there before, it needs to be confirmed with a superficial skin scraping and a microscope.

Larvae feed on your cat's tissues and, understandably, this causes a lot of damage. With itching, reddened skin, wounds, papules and hair loss we are looking at a nasty list of problems.

Worry not, these mites can be controlled and the problem can be solved but be aware that cats with easy access to infested areas may be frequently re-infested!

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Published: 25 Aug 2017

Read the previous article: Male calico cats: the exception to the rule!