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Autumn - yet another season of itchyness for our cats

As the warm(ish!) days of summer transition into the colorful hues of autumn, certain pests start making their presence known. One such tiny culprit is the harvest mite, also known as the autumn mite. In this post, I delve into the world of harvest mites and explore how they can affect your cat's health, as well as provide tips on prevention and treatment so you can avoid a vet visit.

Harvest mites are minuscule arachnids that become more active during the autumn months. These mites go through various life stages, with the larval stage being the most bothersome for cats. Harvest mites larvae typically attach themselves to the skin of cats to feed, and can be intensely itchy. The mites themselves are orange in colour, and sometimes characteristic clusters of orange mites can be seen with the naked eye.

The good news about harvest mites is that they do not colonise your home, unlike fleas. They are also only around in the Autumn season - depending on the weather usually from August/September to October/November. The bad news is that many flea treatments are not effective against harvest mites.

Recognizing the signs of harvest mite infestation is crucial. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as intense itching, red or inflamed skin, small red or orange clusters of mites on your cat's skin, and excessive grooming or scratching. These mites often target areas with less hair, such as the margins of the ears and inbetween your cat's toes but they can occur anywhere on your cat.
Harvest mites are commonly found in grassy and wooded areas, making outdoor cats more susceptible to infestation. However, even indoor cats can be at risk if they come into contact with mites brought indoors on clothing, shoes, or other pets.

Prevention is key in safeguarding your cat against harvest mites. Here are some tips to minimize the risk of infestation:
  • Regularly inspect your cat's fur and skin, paying attention to vulnerable areas

  • Use preventive measures such as spot-on treatments - Frontline spray applied directly to mites using some cotton wool is effective at killing the mites, just remember to wear gloves when handling it

  • Consider using protective clothing or mite repellents for yourself when venturing into areas with high mite populations so you do not bring mites home to your cat

If you suspect or observe signs of harvest mite infestation that you cannot control at home, it's important to seek veterinary care promptly. Your veterinarian can confirm the diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment options, which may include medications to relieve itching and eliminate the mites.

While harvest mites can be a nuisance, being proactive and taking preventive measures can help protect your cat from infestation, and you from the cost and hassle of a vet visit. Regular inspections, preventive treatments, and timely veterinary care will help maintain your feline friend's health and well-being during the harvest mite season.
Wishing you and your cat a mite-free autumn season!
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