Maggots in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Maggots in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Maggots in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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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Worried about the cost of Maggots treatment?

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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.

Paying to treat a maggot infestation out of pocket can be a major financial burden. Fortunately, most pet insurance companies reimburse claims within 3 days, putting 90% of the bill back in your pocket. In the market for pet insurance? Compare leading pet insurance companies to find the right plan for your pet.

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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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Cat

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Three Weeks

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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Dry Skin

We found a kitten in the yard where the mom just took off...we took it inside in a box and it looked like there was a maggot or something in the box later, but I don't see any on the kitten--other than a few dry skin flakes/patches by its tail....I can't afford a vet right now and was wondering how I could manage it for now?

July 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you do not see maggots anywhere on the kitten, this may have just come off of the outside of the kitten, and may not be a problem. If you cannot take her to see a veterinarian, do a very thorough check for any wounds or infections, and if you do find anything like that, she probably does need to see a veterinarian. She may need antibiotic therapy, or deworming. Many clinics offer a free first exam that may allow her to be seen. I hope that she is okay.

July 25, 2020

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Cat

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Four Months

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0 found helpful

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0 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

I have found what looks like maggots in my kittens diarrhea. Other than that there are no other symptoms. No sores, no redness.... just what looks like a maggot in his poop/diarrhea. What can I do for him (that won’t cost a fortune right now)?

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Kittens are very prone to many GI parasites, and they need specific treatment. Having a fecal examination done by a veterinarian should not cost very much money, and it may go a long way in promoting your cat's Health. They will be able to see if there are any parasites that are needed to be treated, and get the right medication. I hope that all goes well for your kitten.

July 23, 2020

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Maggots Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$800

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