Felicola subrostratus in Cats (Felis) | Vetlexicon
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Felicola subrostratus

ISSN 2398-2950

Synonym(s): F. subrostratus, chewing louse, biting louse.




  • Order: Phthiraptera.
  • Suborder: Mallophaga.
  • Genus: Felicola.


  • Intense infections more common on young or old cats, or debilitated, poorly nourished cats.
  • Lice can be harbored particularly by long-haired cats.


  • Light infections are usually of no consequence.
  • Intensity can build up rapidly in young, old or debilitated animals, inducing pruritus, self-excoriation, restlessness and debilitation.

Active Forms

Active Form 1


  • Dorsoventrally flattened up to about 1.8 mm long .
  • Divided into head, thorax and abdomen.
  • Antennae with 3 segments visible on side of head.
  • 3 pairs of legs and no wings on thorax.
  • Chewing mouthparts with head wider than long and wider than thorax.
  • Nymphs are similar to adult but sexually immature and smaller.


  • Yellowish brown.


  • On-host survival only.


  • Nymph hatches from egg; there are 3 nymph stages before it moults to a sexually mature adult with the life cycle taking 21-28 days.
  • Egg production with up to 200-300 eggs produced by a female.
  • About 1 month.

Resting Forms

Resting Form 1


  • About 0.6-0.8 mm long .
  • Operculate.
  • Cemented to hair along the length of egg.Cheyletiellaspp. egg attached at pole only .


  • White.


  • Found on host only.


  • Nymph develops and hatches in 7-14 days.

Clinical Effects



  • Permanent parasites on the skin of cats.
  • Highly host-specific for felidae.


  • Felicola subrostratus (F. subrostratus) life cycle:
    • 1. Adult.
    • 2. Egg.
    • 3. Nymphs.


  • By direct contact when nymphs or adults transfer to the hair of an in-contact dog/cat.
  • Eggs, nymphs or adults that have been knocked off into the environment are probably of little importance compared with animal-to-animal contact.
  • Fomite transfer, eg on grooming equipment.

Pathological effects

  • Rapid movement of lice through coat and hypersensitivity response can cause pruritus and self-excoriation.
  • Ranges from asymptomatic through to alopecia, dandruff and seborrhea with lesions from self-excoriation.

Other host effects

  • Feed on hair and epidermal debris but also, probably opportunistically, feed on blood from scabs and lesions due to self-excoriation.


Control via animal

  • Insecticide treatment of animal and in-contact animals.
  • The egg stage can last 7-14 days. None of the insecticides are likely to penetrate the egg and so repeat treatment in 14 days is essential for insecticides that have little residual activity.
  • Improve condition of debilitated animals.

Control via chemotherapies

  • No insecticides have been licensed specifically for use against lice in cats. The following should be effective:

Control via environment

  • Bedding should be washed (high temperature) or treated with insecticide and cattery vacated for several days.
  • The egg stage can last 7-14 days so repeat treatments are essential for insecticides that have little residual activity.


Useful samples

  • Coat brushing/combing/acetate strips.
  • The white eggs and brown lice are just visible to the naked eye and can be collected.
  • Superficial scrapings may demonstrate lice and eggs.

Specimen storage

  • Room temperature or 4°C, or in 10% formalin or 10% glycerol/70% alcohol.

Transport of samples

  • Room temperature or in preservative.

Field diagnosis

  • Eggs and lice are just visible to the naked eye.
  • The yellowish-brown color of F. subrostratus can make the adults and nymphs difficult to see in golden or brown-colored cats.

Laboratory diagnosis

  • Examine under dissecting microscope or low power microscope.
  • Arthropod key.
  • F. subrostratus.
  • Louse egg.

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Coman B J, Jones E H & Driesen M A (1981) Helminth parasites and arthropods of feral cats. Aust Vet J 57 (7), 324-327 PubMed.