My cat is just over one year old; she's an ex-feral who we trapped at about nine weeks. Since then she's been 95% indoor cat with no direct contact with other cats, but occasionally she slips out of the back door and sits in the back yard for a little while before coming back inside.

She likes to cuddle, but just in the last few weeks, I find myself coming up with itchy red bumps a couple of hours after cuddling her. They look and feel similar to mosquito bites, and they only appear in the areas where we've been in contact. I don't have any history of allergies, and I haven't had any allergic-type reaction when she's scratched me. My best guess is that she has some sort of parasite that's biting. Obviously I would like to deal with this, for her sake and for mine.

We took her to the vet, who checked her over and swabbed her ears for mites but found nothing. (We do have birds roosting in the roof and I've seen a few mites inside near there.) My wife tried combing her with a flea comb over white paper, but nothing showed up. She is in very good health; I see her scratching occasionally but not for an extended period. She has long hair and it's in excellent condition. If it weren't for the bites I'd have no reason to suspect any kind of parasites. Some possibilities I've considered:

  • Cat fleas: she had a few when we caught her but she was treated at the time. It's possible that she picked up a few on one of her trips into the garden, and it would explain the bites. But neither the vet nor my wife found any fleas on her. (OTOH she does have long hair, so it might be possible for a flea to hide?)
  • Mites: the ones I've seen around the house are tiny, so they might evade a flea comb, but I'm not aware of them causing bites like this on humans. Also not sure if bird mites would live on a cat.
  • Cat lice: a few weeks back I did see a small white arthropod that looked a bit like a cat louse on her head, but didn't manage to catch it. I haven't seen any since, and it was large enough that I'd expect it to show up in combing, so maybe it was just a random passing bug. Also, I don't think cat lice bite humans?

Is there anything I've missed, that would live on a cat for several weeks and bite humans without being easily noticeable by a vet?

NB: we're in Australia, it's late spring here.

Update: a couple of years later, I still haven't figured out exactly what's causing these occasional reactions, but I've had them occasionally on holiday while away from my cat, so it looks as if she's innocent. Sorry for the confusion!

5 Answers 5


My cats had Cheyletiella mites, but they also chewed bald spots into their fur from it. During the infestation, my husband and I also got occasional itchy spots, but the mites can't reproduce on humans so they disappeared on us quickly.

Our regular vet couldn't figure out what was making the cats itchy. We went through months of regular ringworm baths that obviously didn't help. He then referred us to a veterinary dermatologist.

This is an exceptionally small mite; the dermatologist got very excited to find one mite on 3 cats (he made everyone in the office look in the microscope because he usually can't find any).

The treatment was frontline (or any topical flea treatment) so you could try that and see if it goes away.

(Also our cats are strictly indoor and still somehow got the mite. Indoor cats can still get fleas or heartworm (from mosquito bites). Keeping a cat indoors can prevent most parasite infections, but it's not 100%)

  • We dosed her with an anti-flea treatment and the bites on me seem to have stopped. I can't confirm that it was mites, but it seems like the best guess, so I'm going to accept this answer.
    – G_B
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 23:06

You do mention you have some birds nest in or around the house and this makes it likely that your cat might have got bird fleas. Bird fleas do search for a host in the spring. They are attracted to the body heat of your cat, but they are not able to live on your cat so they try to find a new host. This is where you come in. They bite you to eat, so you get those red tiny spots but they are not able to live on you, so after some time they die.

Mites do live on waste like dead skin cells. Some eat blood, but they don't make those red spots you have got, but they can give you a rash that itches. Bird mites eat blood, but they are not able to survive on any type of mammals. (You gave me some itch, we had bird mites in our hen house. They were hanging in the ceiling and dropped down on our heads when they felt our body heat).

Cat lice are not able to live on humans or dogs, I don't know if cat lice can infest other types of animals than cats, but I don't think they can.

If your cat have got lice or fleas go to the vet and get a remedy like Frontline or a similar type of remedy. It works on both types, lice and fleas. If it is bird fleas no treatment is needed for your cat, but you might want some type of lotion if it itches where you have been bitten.

I myself gets these red spots every spring and I know for sure it is from bird fleas from my cat.


Cat fleas wherever you live are very rarely found on the cat unless it's infested. I've combed all my cats and dogs I've had over the years with a nit/lice comb daily. The best way to find out if it's fleas is wet some toilet roll or kitchen roll and dab it onto the cat;s skin and fur, behind the ears and on the back of neck and tail. If you see blood spots, that's flea feaces. Best way forward is Front Line plus flea treatment spot on, then change the brand.

Advantage is another good one, then hot wash anything you can your cats been near, Hoover regularly and empty the Hoover or taperhaps up the pipe if using a cylinder vacuum, thenlet your cat go where it normally goes and you won't get infested. If you read the cycle of the flea, it's impossible to kill the larvae. You have to wait for it to hatch. They're really hard to get rid of and much easier to control. If birds are nesting you might have rodents coming and going and they're full of fleas. I hope it is just fleas and nothing wrong with your cat, as it's hard work but prevention is much better than treatment.

People think indoor cats can't catch fleas. They jump on you on your clothes then travel into your hood that way. They don't only live on dirty animals; they live on any feeding host. I have always always bathed my cats then let them dry off then put the spot on the back of their neck. Read instructions--I've made mistakes. Good luck!


It can be that you are allergic but not to the long point. This means your body is able to deal with the allergy fast or that the allergy you've got isn't serious. This explains why you get itchy skin around the area the cat touched, but if it comes to a deeper point (a scratch,) your body either deals with it quickly or recognizes that it's not a thing to worry about and so doesn't make an allergic reaction. I am the same, and sometimes an allergy appears, sometimes not. In my case it can be that my body got used to my cat. In your case it's a little different but better.

Now to help my answer I'd need to ask a couple of things...

  1. You say you have no history with allergies, so have you had a cat before?
  2. No allergic reaction? Are you sure? Does the area around the wound (once scratched) swell or become itchy or red? Because this seams very likely to be an allergy, so help me out.
  • I've never had a cat myself before, but I've often petted other people's cats without any problem, and I've never had other allergy issues. She accidentally scratched me the other day, and there was no more swelling/itching/redness than would be normal for any other minor scrape.
    – G_B
    Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 19:50
  • Well then this supports my theory. If your allergy is weak it's possible not to have allergy signs when petting cats once in a while. But sense the cat is living with you it may be a different case. You can check if you're allergic to cats in hospitals. As this is the only thing I can think of, the answer remains the same. Also, try showering the cat more often and everything should be better. Commented Nov 25, 2017 at 22:31
  • i am very allergic to cats(i have a cat) and the information in the question dont fit as an allergic reaction,if it is an allergic reaction larger parts of the skin will become red and irritated and this is only if the allergy is severe,an allergy never manifest like tiny spots unless the skin have been broken there at these points.(i dont think i need to mention the other symptoms of cat allergy). Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 6:40
  • What are you saying? When you get an allergic reaction you DO get alot of these that look like mosquito bites, especially when you scratch them,and yes I am also allergic to cats, I've lived with thousands of them and I never fail to relize the symptoms. You get red skin, sometimes you get these which look like bites and it gets very irritating. In your case you are severely allerigic and so you get larger parts of your skin red, I know people who have the same. But just because some people suffer stronger allergies doesn't mean others too are the same. People like me get it less often. Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 13:01
  • I can also get asthmatic but no skin reaction if I don't touch or pet a cat. Commented Nov 26, 2017 at 13:04

I have read about cat fleas which are actually a specific species of flea. They do not bite people. I am not very familiar with Australian arachnids and insects but I have read that you have biting mites like the American chigger. The bumps you describe sounds like chigger bites. Chiggers will burrow into a variety of mammals, although I don’t know if they specifically bite cats. Your cat may be bringing in some chiggers.

The simplest solution is to keep your cat inside.

  • Keeping the cat indoors does not cure the current problem nor is it a 100% solution to preventing future problems. My cats got a mite infestation while indoors.
    – Zaralynda
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 14:12
  • Chiggers do not live indoors, and the mites you describe do not feed on humans. Geoffrey’s concern was the mites biting him. Did your cat get mites from your home or another animal? It is impossible to have a sustained population of parasites living in your carpet unless they have something to feed on.
    – Beo
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 19:48
  • It is unknown where the mites came from, but they lived on my cats for several months despite being kept indoors. Cats do better when strictly indoors, but it is not a treatment for an existing infestation nor is it 100% preventative.
    – Zaralynda
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 20:12
  • @Beo We had birds nesting in the gutter, and mites get inside through the roof and/or the window near where they next - I've seen them crawling around there. I've never seen them on my cat, but they're small and would be easy to miss.
    – G_B
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 23:03

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