October 5, 2017

Borax for Fur Mites on Cats


Several month ago our Katy started pulling out her fur. It was mostly on her lower back, and there were little tufts of fur everywhere. She was so obsessed with this that she practically did nothing else. She was constantly licking, biting, and pulling, until her lower back was starting to look bald. We examined her closely, but couldn't see anything. Still, something was clearly wrong.

I researched this and found a number of causes. Stress is one of them.

Katy and Meowy have consistently refused to be friends.

Allergies is another cause. We already have the cats on a no-wheat, no-corn, and no-soy diet, so I stopped giving her milk. The problem continued.

Another cause is fur mites. When Dan found what looked like teeny tiny larvae in her sleeping spot, we concluded it was mites after all. I started looking for shampoos for this. In my research I ran across a homemade mite shampoo from Vetinfo. It called for 1 or 2% hydrogen peroxide, warm water, borax, and Vitamin E, mixed and applied to cat's fur for several days in a row. It was said to kill adult mites, eggs, and larvae.

I didn't have vitamin E, but I had the rest of the ingredients, so I mixed up what I had. It took the two of us to wrestle her down and work it into her fur, but it seemed to work. For awhile. Then she would start with the fur pulling again. I reckoned that to get rid of the problem once and for all we'd need to soak her in a warm borax solution bath and massage it into her skin.

Dan was skeptical that we could manage a bath, but being an old pro at giving cats baths, I said not to worry. I filled the kitchen sink with warm water and dissolved a handful of 20 Mule Team Borax into it. Then I picked her up and securely held her legs in my hands and lowered her in up to her neck. Dan worked it into her skin. We had a large warm towel at the ready and after we dried her off as best we could she took off like a firecracker and hid.

A little while later we found her on the bed giving herself a bath. I worried a little about her ingesting the borax, but I was also worried about the mites. After she'd dried herself off she went to sleep and slept all day. That was the first time we'd seen her actually sleep in weeks.

Katy in her favorite chair.

I laundered everything she slept on with hot water and borax so she wouldn't re-infest herself. She stopped the incessant licking and fur pulling and her fur is gradually growing back. Amazingly, none of the other cats got it!

I was glad to find a simple solution without any fancy, expensive chemicals. Now if we could just find something similar to get rid of fleas...

Borax for Fur Mites on Cats © Oct. 2017 by


Stephanie said...

Grandap's Diatomacious Earth helps with fleas just rub it into the cats fur. It's food grade so it's safe to ingest. If ingested helps eliminate worms. It's not a chemical so it's safe. It also has many health benefits for people.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, interesting you mentioned DE, because I've been recently doing some research on it, although mostly for goat wormer. Claims for effectiveness are so varied that it's hard to know what to think. Just this morning I found this study which is hopeful plus gives some clues to why people have different results. Thanks for mentioning it for cat fleas as well!

Woolly Bits said...

thanks for the tip, I'll have to remember in case the cat (or dogs?) have mites.....years back the dogs had mites and we had to give them a bath; ended with a soaked bathroom, the two of us dripping wet and the dogs... running around outside like mad, to get rid of all the water:) wouldn't fancy bathing the cat though - it's bad enough to give him tablets etc...

Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

Thanks for the tip on this. We had an older cat that got mites after taking her into the vet for tumors to be removed. Was so frustrating to deal with.

Leigh said...

Bettina, cat bathing is a two-human process! I should think the borax would work on dog mites too. Probably all species.

Kristina, very frustrating! Kind of like human kids picking up head lice from day care. I was very thankful that the borax soak worked.

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I don't think we could ever have bathed our cat. She hated water unless diving into next doors pool to catch their fish!. DM is also useful for chickens, si I suppose makes sense for cat mites. We have a dog that is treated for fleas etc but still licks and bites at himself. I wonder if that is mites. Will look into it and follow your recipe if it is.

Mrs Shoes said...

Having given a cat a bath, I know it's not quite as easy as you made it sound. Glad you got the problem fixed for her.

Ed said...

I sided with Dan on giving a cat a bath but evidently you are a pro since you got it accomplished!

Harry Flashman said...

I had never heard of fur mites on cats. This was a good post and I got my wife to read it too. We have a lot of cats, mostly outdoor barn cats. I haven't seen any problems like your cat had, but it could happen any time. Thanks for the information.

Goatldi said...

Tubby Tabby my remaining barn cat came up with an odd one. Scab about the size of an oatmeal flake on the length of her tail and her belly. No scratching no hair loss everything with in normal limits. Except the raised hard scabs. I think I will try an application of this. Will let you know what happens in addition to one ticked off 🐱 heehee.

Leigh said...

Gill, bathing cats is definitely a two person job! They all hate it, but most of them surrender pitifully to the ordeal. Some of them do hold a grudge for awhile afterward though. :)

Mrs. Shoes, it's tricky, isn't it?! Very glad it fixed the problem. I'd hate to have to do it again.

Ed, LOL. Once they get wet they usually suffer through it, although with much complaining. On occasion one will be wild and frantic, but they most of the time it isn't that bad.

Harry, you're welcome! This is the first time we've had this problem and I hope we never have it again. Still, it's useful to know.

Goatldi, I hope you come through it in one piece, LOL.

Renee Nefe said...

I was going to suggest DE also. You can also sprinkle it in the cat beds to help prevent any further infestation. I recently had to attack a show's worth of costumes because one of the kids came to camp with lice. ugh And the bonus for cats is that they don't have to get wet for it...you can just rub it into their fur.
Glad that you've got it under control for now. Good luck with the fleas. I'm so glad we don't have them here.

deb harvey said...

bathe them using dawn dish soap
when dry spray carefully with Wondercide every few days.
work in diatomaceous earth all over the fur.

all litter changed and sleeping places washed and wondercided

buy enough Victor flea traps to put one each next to cats' sleeping and sitting places. buy extra of the sticky traps for the inside of the flea trap. home depot has them.
they use a tiny light bulb and sticky traps. the heat of the bulb draws fleas. one of our cats sleeps near hers because it is warm at night.

we have had a terrible infestation even though all of ours are indoor cats.
not looking forward to several baths for the big ones.

M.K. said...

That's excellent - I'm glad you discovered the solution or her. Poor thing! We've battled fleas before, one year they were quite horrible. This summer, for some bizarre reason, we've had no fleas. We finally decided to buy flea treatment from the vet -- expensive, but not too much more than the stuff you buy at the farm store, and it works so well. But we worry that it might cause cancer or something, so we only use it in the warm months, about 6 months/year. But this year, they never scratched, and we never found any fleas, so we didn't use it. Still treated for heart worms and hunted for ticks though!

catladymac said...

Diatomaceous Earth has been a big help for my cats. In their bedding too.

Leigh said...

Renee, I do have some DE in the garden shed, but I'd have to check to see if it's food grade. The borax worked for the mites though, so I'm glad of that.

Deborah, I had to look up the Wondercide. I tried a cedar oil product awhile back but it was almost daily and still didn't get rid of them. Of course, ours are outdoor cats, so it would be impossible to eradicate fleas everywhere (although I wish we could!!)

M.K. She was definitely miserable. We get an offbrand Frontline now that it's over the counter, but we still seem to have a lot of fleas. I have read that those chemicals do poison the fleas but also effect the cats, although much more slowly. It was said cats that are treated with the flea chemicals have shorter lives, but I don't know if that was factual or just somebody talking.

Mary, for fleas? Seems like DE gets quite a few thumbs up for cats.

deb harvey said...

we use Wondercide on ourselves in mosquito season. last year daughter only had one skeeter bite.
we spray the dog, too.

Leigh said...

Deborah, it sounds like a really good product. Thanks for the heads up.

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Beautiful cat! I am glad you could get it figured out. Nancy

Leigh said...

Nancy, me too!

deb harvey said...

on the wondercide; we have a cat who cannot tolerate the flea poison from the vet. made him ill.
daughter tried several things from the health food store but they were ineffective.
we were so glad to discover the wondercide.
as expensive as it is, it is nothing like the ever-increasing price of the poisons we buy at the vet's.

victoria said...

hi! i know this is an older post but i have an indoor cat who is suffering terribly from what i think are fur mites and so i want to try to mix borax and water in a spray bottle to apply as i feel a bath for him (large aggressive) might result in an emergency room visit for me lol can you suggest a borax water ration? sounds it wouldn't be a lot of borax as you only put a handful in the bath water thanks i do hope you see this soon as he really suffering and i want to do something for him this morning

Leigh said...

Victoria, it's an old post but it's a current problem for many people. The link to vetinfo contains a recipe that I think would work. It calls for equal parts warm water and hydrogen peroxide with 1/2-part borax and vitamin E (from capsules maybe). The key is to dissolve the borax. You could rub this into your cat's fur however you think. What you want is to get the solution down to the skin, where the mites reside.

Please come back and let me know how this works!