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Louie is a 4-month old ragdoll cat whose owner came to Dr. Laura Wilson because Louie was continuing to lose hair on his abdomen. Closer examination by the doctor found that the hairs appeared broken in half ("barbed alopecia") suggesting over-grooming. When he was adopted, Louie's hair coat was normal and full. A superficial scarp was performed and Demodex gatoi were discovered. Demodex gatoi is a short, broad-shaped mite that is found in the top layers of the skin (stratum corneum). The primary clinical sign associated with this mite is pruritus (itching), suggestive of a hypersensitivity reaction. Cats with Demodex gatoi typically present with symmetrical alopecia due to over-grooming. Multiple in-contact cats may be affected as this mite is contagious via casual contact or fomite transmission (blankets, cat condos, etc.). Lime sulfur at 1-2% concentration as either a spray rubbed into the skin or as the standard dip is the treatment of choice for a minimum of 6-8 weeks. Demodex gatoi mites are difficult to find after initial lime sulfur treatment, but weekly or twice weekly dips need to be continued until pruritus is resolved.
After treatment, Louie's coat is showing good progress and on the path to a restored normal coat.