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Four months ago, I rescued a cat who had been living on the streets. When she was first rescued we noticed she was covered (particularly on her hind end) with little brown ovals adhered to the end of her fur shafts. The ASPCA and then our own private vet confirmed for us that these ovals were the eggs of cat lice.

She has since been treated with selamectin (brand name: Revolution) for the last 4 months. Her fur has gotten much healthier - smoother, thicker, and with a nice sheen - and she no longer scratches.

But she is still covered with these lice eggs. We have tried combing them out with a lice comb, spot bathing her, given her an actual bath, etc. and nothing works to remove them. The only way they are lessening is through the natural shedding of her own fur.

Is this normal? Our vet was surprised that they are not coming off with combing and bathing, but our vet also said that she isn't very experienced with cat lice since it's less common on indoor cats (which our vet primarily treats.) She's recommending we shave her at this point.

Also, as a final note - it seems like these are dead eggs. We have never seen actual lice on her, she does not itch, and she's now gone through multiple treatments of selamectin plus a bath. But the fact that these eggs are so difficult to remove concerns me.

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  • to examine your cat for lice you hold your hand on the back of your cat for half a minute or so,the lice will then move to your hand so you can see them when you remove your hand.the lice eggs should be gone by now if the treatment was effective so you need to make sure all of the lice are gone,ask your vet to examine your cat for lice again by using the method i mention the lice will move to a warm hand and this makes the lice easy to see. Jul 20, 2022 at 5:00
  • Thanks for your comment. I did what you suggested and noticed no live lice. She's been examined by 2 different vets in the past two months who lice checked her and noted the eggs but did not note any live specimen. Additionally we brush her every day and haven't ever seen a live louse! The level of eggs she is covered with would make it seem like it's an absolute infestation though so if she had lice I'd expect to see them with my naked eye pretty readily. It's puzzling.
    – Lizbee
    Jul 20, 2022 at 17:18
  • If its not too large a part where the dead eggs still cling on, you can consider shaving it. Also see if the cat is scratching very often. An itchy cat may also indicate the presence of lice. Jul 27, 2022 at 9:02

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Answering my own question now that I've resolved the issue in case it's helpful for anyone in the future - we shaved her a little over 3 weeks ago to physically remove the lice. My partner distracted her with a lickable treat while I used a pair of clippers with a long-ish guard (so she wouldn't be totally bald from the process and to help protect against me accidentally clipping her skin.) This was a pretty smooth process, 99% of the eggs are now gone and no more have shown up since. We will still treat her with a monthly flea/tick/lice preventative to be extra safe!

I still can't understand why these eggs lingered and if this is normal in the case of lice, but at least shaving her has resolved it.

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With a flea or louse infestation, you may need to resort to an insecticidal shampoo. Best approach I found was to use a handheld shower attachment in the tub with temperature set to comfortably warm and very low pressure, taking time so the cat could get used to the idea of being showered and massaged before applying shampoo and rinsing it out. This was followed by a very long lap cuddle wrapped in a towel to dry her off. Admittedly I was working with a more than usually patient cat.

With fleas, I also chose to dispose of her favorite bedding, and to bug-bomb the apartment with a mixture specifically designed to kill flea eggs. WARNING: BUG BOMBS ARE SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY. EVACUATE THE SPACE IMMEDIATELY AND DO NOT RE-ENTER BEFORE THE SPECIFIED TIME HAS ELAPSED. I know someone who came entirely too close to killing themselves by thinking they could hold their breath and dash in for just a few seconds to retrieve something.

Yes, Revolution or some similar systemic anti-parasitic is worth considering. Even for indoor cats; biting bugs do occasionally get in. Failing that, flea collars do work.

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