Cat World > Feline Parasites > Walking Dandruff (cheyletiellosis) in Cats

Walking Dandruff (cheyletiellosis) in Cats

Also known as "walking dandruff", cheyletiellosis  is a highly contagious skin disease caused by the Cheyletiellosis mite. Cats are most commonly infected with Cheyletiella blakei. Young cats are more often infected although cats of any age can have these mites.

The mites live out their entire life cycle (approximately 30 days) on the cat, living on the skin surface keratin. They occasionally burrow their head pincers (known as chelicerae) into the skin and feed on tissue fluids.

How is  walking dandruff transmitted?

Transmission occurs via direct contact with an infected animal. Adult mites can survive for up to 2 days off the host, so it is possible for your cat to become infected from the environment.

What are the symptoms of walking dandruff in cats?

Often the mites can be seen moving around, hence the name 'walking dandruff'.

How is walking dandruff diagnosed in cats?

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of your cat and obtain a medical history. Mites may be seen on the cat with the aid of a magnifying glass.

Your veterinarian may also perform the following tests:

  • Skin scrapings
  • Flea combings
  • Acetate tape preparations
  • Mites and or eggs may also be found in fecal samples

How is walking dandruff treated?

There are several ways to tackle cheyletiellosis, your veterinarian will recommend the best treatment.

  • Weekly dipping with either lime sulfur or pyrethrin for 6 - 8 weeks. Long-haired cats may need to be clipped.
  • Ivermectin has not been approved for use in cats but is successful in eliminating Cheyletiellosis.
  • The environment will also need to be treated with a suitable insecticide

Can humans become infected with walking dandruff?

Yes. Skin lesions have been reported in humans. [1]


[1] The Cornell Book of Cats - Faculty, Staff, and Associates Cornell Feline Health Center. Edited by Mordecai Siegal.

Also see:

Ear mites in cats   Scabies in cats