can head lice live on cats

Head lice cannot survive off the human body for more than two days. They do not reproduce off the body. They do not live on pets.

Which Types of Lice Affect Pets?

The wingless insect known as a louse (singular form of lice) feeds on the blood or dander of various species that reside in their hair, skin, or feathers. Since each kind of lice is species-specific, your dog cannot harbor the common head lice that infects humans.

Despite their tiny size, lice are made up of six legs, a head, a thorax, and an abdomen, just like most other insects. Much like fleas, lice proliferate by laying eggs called nits. Nits are small, white, oblong eggs that resemble dandruff. In certain cases, they can be the first obvious sign of an infestation. A nit develops into an adult louse that can reproduce in about 4 weeks.

Under the right conditions, animals, certain birds, pocket pets, dogs, and cats can all contract the disease. Dogs (and other canids) can harbor the flea species Trichodectes canis and Linognathus setosus. Felicola subrostratus, the term for cat lice, is unique to cats and does not infect people.

It’s helpful to understand how lice spread after learning that they are species-specific and that neither dog nor cat lice will infect your family. If you have multiple pets of the same species, you will need to treat them all for lice if one becomes infected, regardless of whether the other pets exhibit any symptoms.

So, what are the signs?

  • Scratching, biting at skin
  • Rubbing face on floor
  • Redness of the skin
  • Scabs
  • Dryness
  • Restlessness
  • Hair loss
  • Matted fur

Sometimes, the white nits on the skin or coat may be distinguishable.

Treatment for lice in pets involves a few applications of a topical medication or medical shampoo prescribed by a veterinarian. Even though there are a lot of products available, not all of them work as well as others.

It’s important to emphasize that certain products used on dogs can be extremely harmful to cats. Cats shouldn’t be around when a product intended for dogs is being applied, and you should never use it on them. In addition to being isolated from other animals and kept out of dog parks, pets undergoing lice treatment should Initial treatments will kill adult lice, but not the eggs. For this reason, multiple applications are required for a set amount of time.

Many have heard of head lice as an estimated 6 to 12 million cases of head lice infestation occur each year in theUnited States in children 3 to 11 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But did you know there are over 3000 species of lice including donkey lice, chicken lice and even whale lice? Numerous species of lice parasitize domestic animals. Luckily, lice are largely host specific, living on one species or several closely related species ( and for this reason, don’t transfer from one species to another. In other words, the lice that live, feed and breed on your pet can’t survive on humans (and vice versa).

The type that lives on the human head is called Pediculus humanus capitis, or more commonly, the obnoxious little tenants that like to live in our hair. This species is not the same as the one on your dog or cat. Thankfully, unlike body lice, this particular species of head lice that terrorizes school-age children is incapable of subsisting below the human head.

Similar to many other mammals, such as dogs and cats, lice can affect humans at some point in their lives. But it’s extremely unlikely that humans and pets could get lice from one another. We will explain why!.

There are excellent preventative products that use essential oils, like the Lice Clinics of America product line that we sell in our clinics. These products work well to ward off lice. These natural products can even be applied to animals and used to repel other insects, such as mosquitoes. But exercise caution and don’t use any pesticides meant for other mammals on your household. Humans should never use the medication that your veterinarian prescribed to get rid of fleas, tics, or lice on your dog or cat.

Come in for a screening if you think you or your child may have head lice! If we find lice or nits, we can treat them right away, and we promise that you will leave our clinic lice-free!


Can human lice live on cats?

Lice are also species-specific parasites; which means that they cannot move from one species to another. Thus, humans cannot get lice from their pets nor can pets get human specific lice from us. Similarly, dogs and cats also have different sets of species-specific lice that affect them.

Can pets carry head lice?

Head lice, which is a specific species called Pediculus humanus capitis, only affects humans. In other words, while lice may spread from one human family member to another, it’s impossible that your pet was the cause of the problem. Unfortunately, however, pets get lice – just a different kind.

What kills lice on cats?

Common flea medications such as Revolution® (selamectin) and Frontline® (fipronil) are effective against lice. Treatment should be repeated every 2 weeks for at least 4 treatments. In some cases however, weekly treatments can be indicated.

What does lice look like on a cat?

Lice, on the other hand, are white, and it’s usually the eggs — sticky white dots stuck to the hair near the skin — that can be spotted more easily. If your cat has lice, he might not seem too agitated, so it can be hard to diagnose the problem. In general, fleas make cats itchier and more uncomfortable than lice do.