Pets' Corner: Could my children have caught head lice from our cat?

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The Independent Online

My two children have recently had head lice. Could they have got them from our cat and how would I know if the cat is infected? Penny Fox, Grimby

Head lice is something that affects most parents at one point in their child's life. Head lice are contracted from humans, not from your pets. Lice can live on cats, but they are specific to the species. Usually lice are associated with cats that have been abandoned or neglected for a long time. It´s normal that cat owners let their kitten outside and they may then come into contact with an infected cat.

There are two types of lice: Anoplura, which sucks blood and Mallophaga, that chews the skin. The lice will spend its whole life cycle on the host and this takes approximately 21 days to complete. One of the signs of lice is scruffy, dry hair on your cat´s coat, where they lay their translucent eggs. Lice are less visible than nits but both can be seen. If you suspect that your feline has lice you should take it to the vet for assessment and treatment.

The market is flooded with products. Be cautious of what you use on your cat and make sure that you only apply one product at a time. Also, ensure that your cat is dry before handling it. The process will have to be repeated 10 to 14 days afterwards to certify that all the nits are killed.

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