Bird mites are parasites that feed on the blood of avian hosts. While they can’t survive off of feline blood alone, they can still cause irritation for cats for a couple of weeks. So, it’s best to address the issue as soon as possible so that your cat isn’t left feeling uncomfortable and agitated from bird mite bites. Here’s what you need to know about bird mites and how to help your cat if they end up carrying bird mites.
What Are Bird Mites?
Bird mites are tiny parasites that survive off of avian blood. Adult bird mites are about 1/32 of an inch long and are visible to the eye if you search for them intently. They’re either black, gray, or white but will appear red if they’re engorged with blood.
These parasites require an avian host to survive, live through an entire life cycle, and lay eggs. They live on the surface of the skin and can easily jump from animal to animal in search of a host.
How Bird Mites Can Affect Cats
Bird mites can bite into your cat’s skin and draw blood. They may feed on some of your cat’s blood, but it won’t be able to sustain them for long, and they won’t be able to complete their life cycle. As with many insect bites, your cat will most likely experience skin irritation and minor bleeding.
If you suspect your cat has bird mites, you can check for the following signs:
- Small bite marks all over the body
- Raised red bumps around bite sites
- Skin around bites feels warmer than usual
- Minor bleeding from bites
Bird mite infestations may go away on their own after a couple of weeks if you don’t have any pet birds in the home. Some cats with allergies and sensitive skin may suffer from more severe signs. It is always best to get your cat checked over by a vet.
How to Care for Your Cat With Bird Mites
If your cat is showing the signs listed above then take them to the vet to get a diagnosis as other skin conditions and parasites can cause similar signs. Your vet may prescribe some anti itch medication and an appropriate parasite treatment.
Sometimes, your cat will benefit from a bath but many cats are not keen on being bathed! Always use a pet safe shampoo.
How to Get Rid of Bird Mites
Bird mite infestations usually occur if you have pet birds in the home or raise poultry. While you can do some things to help get rid of bird mites on your cat, it’s more effective to target areas where bird mites usually thrive.
If you have pet birds or raise backyard birds, make sure to clean out their living areas. You’ll have to clear out their nests and bedding and thoroughly clean cages and coops. If you don’t live with any birds, try to look for any bird’s nests around your home.
If the nests don’t have any eggs or fledglings in them, you can dispose of them. Just make sure to use disposable gloves when handling nests and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. You can also apply insecticide to these areas to prevent new bird mites from emerging.
Bird owners should also schedule an appointment with their veterinarians. Pet birds will probably need to take some sort of insecticide, which can either be an oral or topical treatment. These medications will help disrupt the bird mite life cycle.
It’s also important to clean your home thoroughly. Wash all bedding and linens and vacuum the entire house. Once you’ve deep-cleaned your home, make sure to throw out all vacuum bags and garbage bags right away to prevent the bird mites from returning.
Your veterinarian can help you determine what sort of pests are on your cat’s skin. If your vet confirms that your cat has bird mites, in many cases your cat will have a mild reaction. Just make sure to address the issue right away to prevent any skin irritation on your cat and having the mites spread to other members of your family.
Featured Image Credit: noa.rotem, Flickr