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Dear Christopher Cat

Our cat, Jasmine, was diagnosed with walking dandruff. What can you tell us about this disease?

Christopher Responds

Walking dandruff is sometimes difficult to diagnose, especially in us cats. It’s easier to diagnose when it has the classic appearance of dandruff flakes that move slowly through the hair.

Walking dandruff is caused by a mite called Cheyletiella (pronounced “ky-le-tee-EL-la”), which lives in the surface of the skin and causes flaking. The mites often carry the skin flakes through the pet’s hair – hence, the name of the disease.

Cats with walking dandruff usually have excessively flaky skin on their backs, and sometimes they are itchy.

This mite is highly contagious, especially to young cats, dogs and rabbits, so I thank you for sending your question to me by mail, instead of having Jasmine deliver it.

The mite can infect you, too. Twenty percent of humans exposed to Cheyletiella develop skin lesions and itchiness.
Some animals may even be asymptomatic carriers of this mite.

Cats are usually treated multiple times with injectable ivermectin, topical Revolution, lime sulfur dips or Frontline spray. Neither Advantage nor Frontline Topspot is effective.

All animals in contact with Jasmine should also be treated, because the mite is so contagious.

Cheyletiella mites can live for ten days off Jasmine’s body, so be sure to treat your home with flea foggers and/or sprays. Repeat the home treatment two to three weeks later to interrupt the mite’s three-week life cycle and prevent reinfestation.

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