Can Cats Catch Head Lice?
Can cats catch head lice? This is a question that crops up a lot, especially from owners that have children. Can cats catch head lice, or alternatively, can humans catch lice from cats.
The answer to this is a resounding no. Lice are actually species-specific. This means that for each of us; cats, dogs, humans or otherwise a different type lice is present. Each type of lice needs its specific home.
And by home, we mean blood. So cat lice need cat blood in order to survive, human lice need human blood to survive.
This means that if your child, (as they so often do at some point in their early school career) comes home with head lice, your cat is completely risk free. They will not catch it too, or have the little parasites laying eggs in their fur.
The same goes if the opposite scenario occurs. If your cat is to catch a strain of head lice, your children and yourself are not at risk of catching the same.
Also, head lice in cats are actually very rare. A healthy house cat is unlikely to ever catch them. The reason lice occur at all is generally down to poor nutrition, overall bad health and neglect. (Hence stray cats being more likely to have lice.)
The symptoms of head lice in cats are the same as any other ectoparasite, (ie fleas) and/or seasonal allergy – excessive scratching and overall irritability.
If your cat shows signs of this, you should take him or her to the vet as soon as possible.
Lice are in fact much easier to treat than other parasites such as fleas. Your vet will be able to give you specially medicated shampoos that you will be able to apply to your cat. Sprays can also be used.
So in short, cats can have head lice, however they haven’t caught it from your children, and your kids will not catch from your cat. The condition is rare, yet easy to treat.