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What are Maggots?

Maggots in cats is a seasonal condition, affecting felines in the warmer months of the year when adult flies are present. Myiasis in felines is noted by red, raised sores on the skin with the presence of maggots. The maggots will feed on necrotic tissue, but are also attracted to moist and inflamed skin caused by draining wounds, skin infections, and fecal-soaked fur coats. Cats with long fur coats are more commonly infected and the infection often goes unnoticed for a period of time due to the fact that the small maggots are hard to visualize through the long hair. Felines that suffer from urinary or fecal incontinence, newborn kittens, and fighting Toms are at high risk for contracting myiasis.

A maggot is a thin, tubular fly larva that will appear as a white worm. A fly is a small, winged insect that, as an adult, feeds on blood, tears, and mucus. There are approximately 34 species of flies in North America, but the only flies to cause a true maggot infection are the flesh flies, bottle flies, blow flies, and the average house fly. Fly strike, or myiasis, is the term veterinarians use to define a maggot infection. A maggot feeds on necrotic, or dying, tissue of any mammal, which would be present in an open wound. Cats which have been bitten or newborn kittens that have healing umbilical cord stubs will attract the female fly. The bred female will lay her eggs in the opening of the skin and within three days, the eggs will hatch and begin feasting on the feline’s dying flesh. The saliva of the maggot contains a specific enzyme that serves the purpose of penetrating the skin, causing a bacterial skin infection for the feline. 

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Maggots Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Maggots in Cats

Myiasis may only have one symptom in a feline, and that is the observable presence of maggots. A maggot will appear as a white, tubular worm, found in an opening on the feline’s skin. 

The enzyme-rich saliva of the maggot often causes an inflammatory reaction, noted by swelling and reddening of the skin. The cat may also develop raised skin sores filled will pus, known as a pyoderma. As maggots feast and the feline’s flesh is exposed to the environment, a high risk of skin infection present itself. A bacterial skin infection may appear as red, blistered, moist, or oozing skin. There is usually a pungent odour.

Myiasis can cause great discomfort and pain to the feline, but cats do not always show obvious signs of pain. A feline infected with maggots may:

  • Bite at the skin
  • Vocalize
  • Have difficulty sleeping or appear restless
  • Swish their tail
  • Have a reduced appetite
  • Become lethargic
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Causes of Maggots in Cats

Maggots in cats are caused by a female fly laying her eggs on the feline’s open or irritated skin. A true maggot infection is caused by fly strike of either a flesh fly bottle fly, blow fly, or the average house fly. A maggot infestation, myiasis, should not be confused with a bot fly infestation known as cuterebriasis. Bot flies do not have a maggot life cycle and do not directly infect the feline. Myiasis and cuterebriasis are commonly confused as one and the same, but are very different types of fly larvae infestation. 

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Diagnosis of Maggots in Cats

The diagnosis of maggots in cats is rather simple, as finding the thin, tubular worms on the feline’s skin in the primary diagnostic method for myiasis. However, prior to starting your feline on a treatment plan, the veterinarian will want to obtain an overall health screening to ensure her compatibility with the proposed treatment regimen. 

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Treatment of Maggots in Cats

The treatment goal for maggots in cats is to remove the tubular worms from the feline and tend to the open skin sores. It is highly advised to allow the veterinarian to manually remove and tend to the maggot infection, as incorrect treatment can make the problem worse. The veterinarian will carefully remove the maggots with tweezers and rinse the affected area with an antiseptic of choice. It may be required to clip some or all of the feline’s fur to attend to the myiasis condition. Any open wounds will be properly cleaned and possibly bandaged, followed by antibiotics if necessary. Underlying conditions that may have contributed to the condition, such as urinary incontinence or a bladder infection, will also be addressed as part of the feline’s treatment regimen.

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Recovery of Maggots in Cats

Felines usually have a full and positive recovery following Myiasis, but kittens with umbilical cord infections may have a graver prognosis. As the wounds are healing, the veterinarian will ask you to take precautions against fly strike and reinfection. Prevention methods may include taking the feline indoors or use of a safe, anti-fly strike topical insecticide.

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Maggots Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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Maggots Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Airedale Terrier

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tarry Stool

Worms in stool

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. There are many types of intestinal parasites that can affect dogs, and they are all treatable with different medications. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Grey tabby

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Fifteen Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Concave Chest

I let my cat outside for a couple of days now he has flying all over him and a foul odor

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, thank you for your question. I am sorry to hear that your cat is not feeling well. Without examining your cat, it's very difficult for me to know what is going on, but it sounds like your cat is severely ill or injured. Please take your cat in to your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately for emergent medical attention. I hope that your cat starts feeling better soon!

Aug. 3, 2020

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Maggots Average Cost

From 588 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,000

Average Cost

$800

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