Red Parasites: Autumn Grass Mites in Cats

Although they are only as small as the head of a pin, autumn grass mites can be a nuisance to cats. Find out here how you can recognize a crawling infestation in cats and what you can do about it.

What are Autumn Grass Mites in Cats?

Autumn grass mite, autumn mite, harvest mite, hay mite, grass, or ground louse – all of these names stand for the same small arachnid. Scientists call it “Neotrombicula autumnalis”. You have probably seen these mites before because they are strikingly fiery red in color. Contrary to what the names suggest, the autumn grass mite does not only appear in autumn. An infestation with the animals can occur from July onwards.

Autumn Grass Mite Larvae are Looking for a Host

These are not the adult mites, but their offspring, the larvae of the autumn mites. As soon as these hatches, they look for a suitable host. Preferably a mouse or other small rodents. But dogs, cats, or humans are also possible hosts. The larvae feed on their host’s lymph fluid in order to develop into nymphs. Nymphs and adult autumn grass mites are vegetarians who live on and in the ground.

Symptoms: Autumn Grass Mite in Cats

If you want to find the larvae, you have to look closely: They are only around 0.3 mm in size and often remain hidden in the cat’s fur.

Autumn Grass Mites on Cats’ Paws, Ears, and Armpits

Autumn mites especially like to make themselves comfortable here:

  • on the paws;
  • in the ears;
  • under the armpits.

While some cats – and humans or dogs – are insensitive and hardly notice the mites, others react to them easily to strongly. Fall mites can cause the following signs in cats.

Symptoms in Cats

  • Itching – the cat often scratches or licks itself;
  • Reddened skin;
  • Crust formation;
  • Restlessness.

The larvae stay on their host’s body for around a week, but symptoms can last longer.

Are Autumn Mites Contagious to Humans?

Don’t worry: autumn grass mites are not contagious – neither for other cats nor for dogs or people. Because they do not reproduce on their host and fall off after a few days in order to develop further. By the way: humans are among the false hosts. Nevertheless, you can also catch larvae if you sit with your velvet paw on a high meadow in summer. In humans, autumn grass mites can cause very itchy “harvest scabies”.

How Dangerous are Autumn Mites for Cats?

Autumn grass mites are not really dangerous for your cat. However, they can negatively affect the quality of life of the velvet paw. Because the itching is so annoying for sensitive animals that the cat scratches itself badly and harms itself.

Scratching can unbalance the skin. Bacteria can get under the skin through open skin areas and cause inflammation. Autumn mites can cause complications in cats, especially with damaged skin or immunocompromised animals. However, these remain limited to certain areas of the skin. According to current knowledge, autumn grass mites cannot transmit diseases in our latitudes.

Treating Autumn Grass Mites in Cats

It is seldom necessary to control autumn grass mites in cats. If you discover red spots on the cat, you can dab them with an oil such as linseed oil or rapeseed oil. So clog the airways of the larvae.

However, if the velvet paw suffers from severe itching, you should make an appointment with the vet. He can relieve the itching with medication. For example, low-dose corticosteroids, synthetic tannic acids, or antihistamines are used. Special shampoos or other medical products are rarely necessary.

Prevent Mite Infestation in Cats in Autumn

Some spot-on products for cats offer protection against fall grass mites. Make absolutely sure that these are explicitly approved for cats. The active ingredient permethrin in preparations for dogs is poisonous for cats.

Does Coconut Oil Help Against Autumn Grass Mites in Cats?

It is best to discuss with your veterinarian whether it makes sense to take preventive measures against fall mites in your cat. Home remedies are less suitable. Cats clean themselves intensively so that they lick away coconut oil, which some dog owners use to prevent autumn mites.

If you want to find out whether there are autumn grass mites in your own garden, you can do so easily: Place a white plate on the meadow. If you find small red dots on it after a few hours, these are autumn mites. If the cat enjoys running freely in a garden with many mites, keep the grass short from late summer and deposit the clippings out of the cat’s reach. Because the more grass contact, the more mites. In this way, you can reduce the infestation in sensitive animals.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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