Chiggers on Cats

Leigh Burkett, DVM
Written by:
Published: November 23, 2021
Chiggers on Cats

Chiggers in Cats

Chiggers are mites belonging to the Trombiculidae family. The larval form of this mite can affect your cat’s skin and cause itching, redness, and sores. They are also known as harvest mites, red bugs, red mites, or berry bugs.


Most infestations in the United States occur in the southeast and south-central regions, mainly in the summer and fall. Only the larvae (immature animals) are parasitic; the adults live in the soil and leaf litter. Chiggers will feed on a pet for less than a week before falling off. 

Causes of Chiggers in Cats

Cats can get chiggers through contact with mites which can be present in low-lying vegetation, such as grass, weeds, low bushes and plants, and leaf litter. The larvae crawl onto the cat, pierce the skin, inject enzymes, and suck up the digested contents. The larvae fall off the skin 3-5 days later, beginning the next stage of development in the environment. 

Symptoms of Chiggers in Cats

The most common symptom of chiggers in cats is itching. This may be accompanied by: 

  • Skin redness

  • Skin lesions 

  • Crusty skin 

  • Hair loss 

Some cats infested with chiggers may have no symptoms. 
 

Diagnosing Chiggers in Cats

When your vet closely examines your cat’s fur, chiggers will show up as small orange specks. These are the mites or clumps of mites. Microscopic examination of these specks from skin scrapings or adhesive tape will provide a definitive diagnosis. 

Chiggers prefer to infest the face and base of the ears, but they can appear on any part of your cat’s body. 

Treatment of Chiggers in Cats

There is no specifically approved treatment for chiggers. However, most flea and tick products should be effective. Reinfestation may occur if cats have access to infested areas. 

Recovery and Management of Chiggers in Cats

Chigger infestations should resolve within a few weeks after appropriate treatment. Routine application of flea/tick products should prevent reinfestation. Once chiggers have attached to a cat, they cannot be spread to people. 

Featured Image: iStock.com/chendongshan


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