Maggots in Cats: Maggots are the larval stage of flies, typically the common housefly or flesh fly. Female flies lay eggs on decaying organic matter like feces, trash, or open wounds. Once the eggs hatch into maggots, they feed on this material.
Maggots in cats usually occur when:
- Flies lay eggs in feces stuck to a cat’s fur, especially around the anus. The maggots hatch and crawl onto the skin, burrowing in.
- An open wound or sore on the cat provides an opportunity for flies to lay eggs. The maggots infest the wound, feeding on dead tissue and secretions.
- Trash, feces or spoiled food in the environment attract flies, allowing them access to lay eggs on or near the cat. The maggots migrate onto the cat, causing irritation.
- Fleas or ticks on a cat create open sores or wounds for flies to target, with maggots soon following.
To prevent maggots in cats, you need to control flies and eliminate access to decaying matter they’re attracted to. Practice good hygiene like regular waste removal, wound care, and flea/tick prevention. Check your cat’s fur and ears regularly for any fly eggs or maggots and have them removed by a vet immediately. Maggots can damage tissue, cause infections, and distress your cat if left untreated.
If your cat does get maggots, take it to the vet right away for safe removal and treatment. They will prescribe medication to kill any remaining maggots, clean the area thoroughly, and treat any resulting infections or wounds. Within a few days of proper treatment, your cat should be maggot-free and well on the road to recovery.
Signs Your Cat Has Maggots
If your cat spends any time outside, there’s a chance they could end up with maggots. These disgusting larvae can infest open wounds or feces on your cat’s body. Watch for these indications your feline companion may have maggots:
- Your cat is licking, scratching, or biting excessively at one area. Maggots cause irritation and itching as they crawl on and feed off your cat’s skin, flesh or feces. Your cat may be trying to relieve the discomfort by licking, scratching or biting at the affected area.
- You notice small, white, worm-like creatures around your cat’s rear end, underbelly, or on any wounds. Maggots, especially blowfly larvae, are creamy white in color and can be up to 1/2 inch in length. They wiggle and crawl, feeding on dead tissue, skin, and feces.
- There are smelly, wet areas in your cat’s fur that don’t seem to dry. The maggots and their feeding can cause swelling, redness, and pus, leaving the fur wet and matted. There will also be a foul odor from the waste and dead tissue.
- Your cat seems lethargic or is eating less. An infestation of maggots can lead to infections that make your cat feel ill, causing a loss of appetite and decreased activity levels.
- You see flies constantly buzzing around your cat. Flies are attracted to the odor and waste from maggot infestations. They lay their eggs in the dead tissue, feces or wounds, which then hatch into maggots.
If you notice maggots infesting your cat’s wound or orifice, it’s important to treat it immediately. The maggots themselves are not usually harmful, but the bacterial infection that attracted them needs treatment. Here are the steps you should take:
First, gently clean the area to remove as many maggots as possible using tweezers or gloves. Apply an antiseptic like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or povidone-iodine to the area. The antiseptic will kill any remaining maggots and larvae, as well as bacteria. You may need to repeat this step a few times to ensure all maggots have been removed.
Next, treat the underlying infection that led to the maggot infestation. This often requires oral or topical antibiotics prescribed by your vet. Common antibiotics for skin infections include amoxicillin, clavamox, and cephalexin. Your vet will determine the appropriate medication based on your cat’s condition.
In severe cases, hospitalization and fluids may be required to stabilize your cat. Pain medication or sedatives can also help keep your cat comfortable during treatment. The vet may need to surgically debride dead or infected tissue from the wound as well.
After the initial treatment, you will need to keep the area clean and properly bandaged as directed by your vet. Monitor the wound for signs of re-infection like swelling, redness, or discharge. Re-check appointments with your vet are often needed to ensure the infection has fully cleared up.
The key to successful treatment of maggot infestations in cats is quick action and proper follow-up care. With veterinary treatment and at-home wound care, most maggot infestations and related infections can be cured. However, in rare cases complications may lead to blood poisoning or other life-threatening conditions if left untreated. See your vet right away if you notice maggots on your cat.
READ ALSO: Mastitis in Cats Home Treatment
How did my cat get maggots?
Maggots, or fly larvae, need dead or decaying organic matter to feed on. The most common causes for maggots in cats are:
- Open wounds or skin infections: Flies are attracted to moisture, odor, and discharge from open wounds or infections on a cat’s skin. They lay their eggs in the wound, and the eggs hatch into maggots.
- Fleas: Severe flea infestations can lead to flea dermatitis, causing irritation, hair loss, and open sores. This provides an ideal environment for flies to lay eggs.
- Feces soiling: If a cat has diarrhea or mobility issues, feces can get caught in the fur around the anus. Flies lay eggs in the feces, and the eggs hatch into maggots.
- Ear infections: Discharge from an ear infection attracts flies, which can enter the ear and lay eggs. The eggs hatch into maggots that feed on ear wax, pus, and other debris.
- Rarely, maggots may infest open mouths, noses or unhealed umbilical cords in newborn kittens. In these cases, the maggots can enter the body and cause life-threatening damage. Seek vet care immediately.
How are maggots treated?
The best way to get rid of maggots in cats is:
- Remove maggots manually with tweezers or by bathing the area with warm water. Be very gentle to avoid rupturing the maggots.
- Treat any underlying wounds or infections. Clean the area, apply antibiotics, and bandage if necessary.
- Apply a parasiticide like diatomaceous earth, lime, or turpentine oil to kill any remaining maggots and eggs.
- Prevent re-infestation. Keep the cat in a confined area away from flies. Practice good hygiene like feces removal, wound care, and flea prevention.
- In severe cases, oral or injectable anti-parasitic drugs may be needed to kill maggots that have entered the body. Hospitalization and surgery may also be required.
How can I prevent maggots in my cat?
The best way to prevent maggots in cats is by controlling flies and practicing good hygiene:
- Treat any wounds, infections, or parasites like fleas that can attract flies.
- Remove feces, especially from long-haired cats, every day.
- Fix any leaks or standing water where flies can breed.
- Use fly traps, fly paper, or spray insecticides to control the fly population