Harvest Mites and Cats
Commonly found in grasslands and forests throughout North America, harvest mites are also known as red bugs, trombiculid mites, scrub-itch mites or berry bugs. During their larval stage, harvest mites are referred to as chiggers. This is the stage in which they attach themselves to humans, rodents, cats and dogs. Once the larvae reach their adult stage, they no longer feed on animals.
Although most people believe that harvest mite larvae burrow deep into the skin, this simply is not true. Chiggers live on the skin’s surface. When feeding, they use their small, hooked fangs to pierce the skin and inject powerful enzymes that liquefy the skin cells making it possible for the larvae to consume them. These enzymes irritate the skin, resulting in intense itching.
In cats, harvest mites are usually found around the ears and between the toes. Cats infected with chiggers will chew or scratch themselves, often to the point of self-inflicted wounds. Sensitivity to chiggers can vary greatly from cat to cat. Animals that are frequently bitten might develop severe allergies to the mites.
Harvest mites should be suspected if a sudden onset of intense itching occurs during the late summer or early fall. A veterinarian can make the proper diagnosis and prescribe a safe and effective treatment. Most of the time, a cat will not require further treatment after the mites have been killed. However, in severe cases, anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics might be needed.
Even though humans can be affected by harvest mites, they are not spread from cats or dogs. Harvest mites typically attach themselves to a person’s ankle while they are walking through infested vegetation. A typical human reaction to chiggers involves an intensely irritating rash. Specific treatment is usually not necessary as the larvae are removed during bathing. Preventing harvest mites can be achieved by wearing long pants and socks whenever walking on trails or woods during the late summer and by avoiding high grass or weeds in areas known to be inhabited by chiggers.
Claws N Paws Day Spa offers quality grooming services for both dogs and cats in Fountain Valley, California. We also offer mobile pet grooming to all areas of Orange County. For more information, or to schedule a grooming appointment please call 714-962-1005.
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