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Can Cats Get Lice From Humans

Can Cats Get Lice From Humans? Separating Fact from Fiction

Lice can be a nuisance, causing itchiness and discomfort for those affected. It is well-known that lice transmit through contact from one human to another, but what about our feline friends? 

Can cats get lice from humans? As a responsible pet owner, it is only natural to wonder if cats can contract lice from their human counterparts. 

By understanding lice transmission, you will know and take the necessary steps to protect your beloved cat from potential spread.

We’ll discuss tips to keep your cat lice-free, how to tell if your cat has lice, treatment options for lice, including natural remedies, and much more. But before that, let’s first provide a quick answer to the question,

 Can Cats Get Lice From Humans? 

Lice are species-specific, meaning each type is adapted to a particular host species. Therefore, cats cannot get lice from humans, and humans cannot get lice from cats.

Cats have a species of lice that are specifically adapted to infest them. These feline lice cannot survive on human skin and vice versa.

So, if you or someone in your household has lice, you don’t have to worry about your furry feline friend catching them.

What Are Cat Lice And How Do They Spread?

Lice are tiny parasites that infest the fur and skin of cats, causing discomfort and irritation. Only one species of lice infests cats, known as Felicola substrate. 

These lice are wingless creatures with six legs equipped with claws for crawling and latching onto the host. 

Lice use their mouths to bite or chew on your pet’s skin, causing itching and discomfort. You should know that lice in cats differ from those in humans. 

While human lice infestations are caused by Pediculus humanus capitis or Pediculus humanus corporis, cat lice belong to a different species. 

However, despite the difference in species, cat lice can still irritate by chewing on the skin or sucking blood.

Cat lice can spread from one cat to another through direct contact or by sharing grooming tools or bedding. 

When an infected cat comes into contact with another cat, the lice can easily crawl from one host to another.

Lice Symptoms In Cats

Here is how you can tell if your feline has lice.

  1. Excessive biting or scratching – Cats naturally groom themselves, but if you notice your cat constantly biting or scratching at certain areas of their body, something is wrong. These parasites can cause intense itching and discomfort, leading to excessive grooming behavior.
  2. Fur loss – Lice feed on the blood of their host and can weaken the hair follicles, leading to hair loss in affected areas. The persistent scratching and biting of cats also promote hair loss. 
  3. Irritated skin – Lice bites can cause irritation and inflammation on a cat’s skin. This can manifest as redness, swelling, or even sores in severe cases. 
  4. Small white or brown spots on the fur and skin – Lice eggs, also known as nits, are small white or brown spots that attach to the fur and skin of cats. If you look keenly, adult lice lay these eggs and can be seen with the naked eye. 
  5. Visible lice – You may see lice crawling on your cat’s fur. These tiny insects are about the size of a sesame seed and can be brown or off-white. 

If you spot these parasites moving around on your cat’s coat, there is no doubt that your cat has a lice infestation.

  1. Restlessness – Cats with lice may exhibit restlessness and discomfort. The constant itching and irritation caused by these parasites can make your feline restless and anxious. They may have difficulty sleeping or seem agitated and unsettled. 

Diagnosing Lice On Cats

Detecting lice on cats can be done through several visible indicators. 

  1. You can observe visible lice crawling in their fur. These lice may appear as tiny, moving dots or specks on the cat’s coat. 
  2. You may notice white round objects, known as lice eggs or nits, attached to the cat’s skin. These eggs are small and often resemble grains of rice. 
  3. If a cat shows signs of infection, such as excessive scratching, hair loss, or skin inflammation, it may indicate a lice infestation.

Can Cats Transmit Lice To Other Cats?

Yes, cats can transmit lice to other cats. The lice that infest cats, known as Felicola substrata, are species-specific.

They can move from one cat to another, but they cannot be transmitted from a cat to a different host, such as a dog or a human. 

Lice transmission between cats occurs through direct contact or proximity, allowing the lice to transfer from one cat’s fur to another.

What Causes Lice In Cats?

Now you know that lice cannot be transmitted to cats from humans or other species. However, various scenarios can result in the spread of this uncomfortable condition from one cat to another. These include:

  1. When exposed to dirty environments, cats are more likely to come into contact with lice and other parasites. 
  2. In crowded areas such as shelters, cats are near each other, making it easier for lice to spread from one cat to another. 
  3. Direct contact with another cat suffering from lice can cause lice transmission in cats. 
  4. Even contact with the belongings of another cat with lice can lead to lice infestation. This could include sharing bedding, toys, or grooming tools.

Treating Lice In Cats

Treating lice in cats requires a careful and thorough approach. Lice infestations can cause discomfort and irritation for cats, so addressing the issue promptly and effectively is important. There are several methods you can use to treat lice in cats, including;

Use olive oil – Olive oil can help suffocate and smother lice, making it difficult for them to survive on the cat’s fur. For this method, dip your feline in a bucket with olive oil and wait 15 minutes before rinsing it off.

Bath your cat with dish shampoo – Using mild dish soap or cat-specific shampoo can help remove lice from your cat’s coat. Thoroughly wet your cat’s fur and lather with the shampoo. Leave the shampoo on for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

Pyrethrin insecticide treatment – When using Pyrethrin insecticide, remember that it is unsafe for cats younger than 12 weeks of age. These treatments target adult lice and their nymphs but may not effectively kill lice eggs.

Topical lice treatment for cats – Various topical treatments are available to eliminate lice in cats. These treatments often come in spot-on solutions applied directly to the cat’s skin. They work by targeting lice at different life stages. 

When Should You Consult 

As a pet parent, paying close attention to any unusual symptoms or behaviors they may exhibit is essential. One such symptom to watch out for is excessive scratching, which leads to fur loss. 

If you notice your pet scratching excessively and their fur starting to fall out, it could be a sign of an underlying issue that requires immediate attention. 

While occasional scratching is normal, persistent and excessive scratching should not be ignored as it may indicate a more serious problem.

Another indicator that it’s time to consult a veterinarian is the presence of visible lice. Lice infestations can be quite intense, and if it reaches a point where you can see the lice on your pet’s fur, it is a clear sign that things have gotten out of hand.

Lice are small parasites that like to hide in the fur, so if they are visible, it means there are likely many of them present. In such cases, take immediate action and seek professional help from a vet.

If you have been using medication to treat your pet’s condition, but it doesn’t seem to work, it is time to consult a veterinarian. 

There could be various reasons the medication is ineffective, such as incorrect dosage or resistance. A vet can assess the situation, diagnose any underlying issues, and prescribe the appropriate treatment for your pet’s needs.


Can cats get lice from humans? It is highly unlikely for cats to get lice from humans. Lice are species-specific parasites, meaning they are adapted to living on a specific host species. 

Human lice, scientifically known as Pediculus humanus capitis, are designed to infest humans and cannot survive on cats. Similarly, the lice that infest cats, known as Felicola substrates, cannot infest humans. 

Therefore, lice transmission between humans and cats is extremely rare and uncommon. However, while lice can be a nuisance for humans and cats, they are easily treatable with appropriate medications and proper hygiene practices.

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