Friday Cat Lice Blogging

Cat lice

Felicola subrostratus (cat lice)
Image: Fourrure

Cats have several ectoparasites including fleas (most common), mites, ticks, and lice. Cat lice, Felicola subrostratus, are rare on pets but may appear in higher frequency in feral cat populations. Cat lice are not native to North America. They were imported from Asia with the domestic cat. Cat lice are in the insect order, Mallophaga, the chewing lice. These lice have chewing mandibles that damage the skin by biting. This is in contrast to human lice, which are sucking lice (Order: Anoplura) that feed through syringe-like mouth parts on fluids.

Cat lice are specific to cats. They do not infest humans. Conversely, cats cannot serve as a host or reservoir for human lice. Cat lice develop on the cat in a little over 3 weeks. The eggs, or nits, are attched to cat hairs, look like “dandruff” and are the life stage most commonly noted. Cat lice can be eliminated with most flea treatment products.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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