Myiasis in cats is one of, if not the most, horrifying conditions any owner will ever witness in their pet.
Although most cases of this very troubling condition are considered mild to serious, some cases can be quite severe.
If it is severe enough, the sections of your cats skin that has died will have to be removed.
If a significant amount of your cats skin has been severely infected, skin grafts may have to done as it damages can be that severe.
Myiasis in cats has no gentle description as to what it is; maggots.
There are actually two official definitions of myiasis; infestations of your cat’s tissue by fly larvae, or a disease that results because of this infestation.
However you choose to describe it, it is still very horrifying, very gross, and much more harmful than a lot of owners actually understand.
While it is widely held that maggots are extremely useful in research and can actually help some human infections, there is nothing further from the truth when it comes to your cat.
Maggots themselves are actually fly larvae that will feed on necrotic tissue.
This is the death of a cell or group of skin cells that are the result of injury, disease, or another pathologic state.
If your cat in exclusively an indoor cat, they have very little chance of contracting myiasis unless they come into contact with another infected cat.
However, if your cat does go outside for even brief periods at time, they are considered at risk.
If you live in an environment that is damp and your cat’s skin remains moist for any extended period of time, they are especially prone to attracting myiasis or maggots.
If your cat has any type of a wound that is draining, a bacterial skin infection, or has come into contact with urine or fecal that has become infested, they are now considered prime candidates for this horrible disease.
Myiasis in cats are spread from numerous species of flies, however, the most common fly that affects cats are what are referred to as blowflies.
The blowfly will lay their eggs and in some cases it can be hundreds of eggs, on or near the infected tissue, inflamed tissue, or the decaying tissue of your cat.
They not only can very easily sense these areas of your cat, they are also extremely effective at attaching themselves.
This larva is cone shaped and has very specialized mouth parts designed for this task.
Their mouth parts including hooks as well as suction type structures that immediately accomplish two things; they lap up the liquid on your cat’s skin as well as piercing the skin.
Another very troubling aspect of these fly eggs is that they hatch within 24 hours after landing on your cat.
After they have fed on your cat and have matured in size for a period of five to seven days, the maggots than leave your cat and enter the soil.
The most common type infection with Myiasis in cats is what is referred to as cavity or wound myiasis.
With this form of attack on your cat, they go after what is called artificial openings, such as wounds.
However, they are also equally attracted to natural orifices such as your cat’s sinuses or their palate areas around the nasal passages.
Cutaneous myiasis in cats is also very common, and is a situation where the larvae are found either on your cats skin, or under their skin.
If this is the case, these maggots will cause intense itching in the skin that will also result in swelling.
This is also referred to as a creeping eruption, and if it becomes severe enough, will require surgery to remove the maggots as well as to repair your cats skin.
The third type of the infectious process is intestinal myiasis, and although it is very common in humans, especially children, it is very uncommon in cats.
Myiasis in cats does not show a lot of symptoms, but those that do appear will be very definitive.
The first sign to watch for that your cat may have maggots is the appearance of any moist skin areas, especially around any type of a wound.
However, these signs may also appear at or near any place were your cat has come into contact with urine or feces.
The key here is contact.
The last set of symptoms is the actual identification of what looks like rice in these areas.
However, this is where the bad news really begins as they anything but rice; they are maggots.
They can range in size form one quarter inch to as large as one inch and they also have one other very telling sign.
There will be several of them as it is extremely rare for there to be just a couple.
The first form of treatment of myiasis in cats is to remove them physically. Although this may sound easy, it is extremely difficult.
Maggots are very strong and as a result, it is very difficult to kill them.
There are several very effective insecticides that can easily kill maggots, but if your cat has any type of immune suppressed system or weak at all, you may also kill them in the process.
Shaving the hair of your cat around the affected areas is the first step so you can examine the extent of the infestation.
If it is a new infection and they are almost exclusively on the surface of the skin, you can remove them yourself.
However, this is also extremely rare and in most cases you will see firsthand where they have become embedded a lot deeper than you suspect.
If this is the case, you will need to seek immediate professional attention as the actual removal can take several hours.
However, there are a couple of other reasons removing maggots should always be left to your veterinarian.
First, they are trained in the techniques and will have to use a very mild and safe insecticide throughout the process.
After each application, they will thoroughly rise off your cat to protect them from the insecticide.
After all of the maggots have been safely removed, your veterinarian is the only one qualified to make the next decision.
If the infection is severe enough, they will let the infected skin die and then remove it.
If the infection is extensive and a lot of your cat’s skin has been damaged, they will have to give your cat skin grafts.
This can be quite expensive but it may be the only process that will save your cats life at this point.
Myiasis in cats, if caught very early, can safely be removed without a veterinarian.
However, it the vast majority of cases most owners will have no idea their cats are infected until the symptoms begin to appear.
By than it is too late and removal must be done by a professional.
Sustained skin moisture in your cat, as well as inflammation or infection of any type is a literal calling card for maggots.
However, as gross as this infection is, most cats survive without any real long term damages.