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Can Humans Get Lice From Cats & Vice-Versa? Vet-Approved Facts

Written by: Adam Mann

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

a white cat with collar scratching its ear

Can Humans Get Lice From Cats & Vice-Versa? Vet-Approved Facts


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Nobody wants to deal with lice in their home, and when you find some on your cat, you can find yourself scratching and itching and feeling like they’re crawling all over you. The good news is that it’s all in your head and that they’re not actually on your head.

You don’t need to worry about your cat giving you lice, nor do you need to worry about giving your pets human-specific lice. But why is this the case, how do you know if your cat has lice, and how do you treat lice if they have them? We’ll break down everything you need to know here!

divider 2 cats

Can Humans Get Lice From Cats or Vice Versa?

Lice are a host-specific parasite, which means you don’t need to worry about your lice spreading to your pet or your cat’s lice spreading to you. Both humans and cats can get lice, but you never need to worry about lice jumping from species to species.

Additionally, if you have both dogs and cats in your home, you don’t need to worry about the lice from your dog or cat jumping to the other one either. Both species can get lice, but they are species-specific pests. Cat lice only affects cats, dog lice only affects dogs, and human lice only affects humans.

Cat Man Tattoo Sitting Owner
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

How Do Cats Get Lice?

Lice are pesky parasites, and while you don’t need to worry about passing your lice to your cat or vice versa, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about them getting lice at all! Outdoor cats are more likely to contract lice, especially during the colder months in temperate regions.

However, if you’re bringing new cats into your home or your cat frequently spends time around other cats, it’s more likely for them to get lice too. Finally, unsanitary environments make it more likely for your cat to get lice, so keeping your home clean goes a long way in preventing lice for both you and your cats.

Identifying Lice in Cats

When you’re trying to determine if your cat has lice, there are three main ways to identify an infestation. The first is if you can visibly see the lice in their fur. There is one species of lice that infests cats, and they have six legs and are incredibly quick when climbing.

Another way to identify if your cat has lice is to find the lice eggs on their skin. Lice eggs are small, white, round objects, and you’ll find them close to your cat’s skin.

Finally, you can identify the signs of cat lice. Common signs include itching, scratching, rubbing, skin irritation, open wounds, infections, and restlessness. It’s also common to see matted hair or hair loss from where your cat is scratching and biting while trying to relieve the itchiness and irritation.

cat lice as seen on microscope
Image By: wimala namket, Shutterstock

Treating Cat Lice

While your cat can’t give you their lice, that doesn’t mean you want your cat to keep dealing with it. Treating lice can be a pain, but if you do it right the first time, you can put their lice problems behind you once and for all—with regular check-ups from your vet, of course.

Start by removing any visible lice with a fine-toothed comb. This is likely going to be the least enjoyable part of the process. Collect the louse and eggs and put them in a sealed container to kill them.

Next, visit your vet for an exam and lice treatment to use on your cat to kill any remaining lice and eggs you’ve likely missed. No matter how thorough you are, some of these pests are sure to slip through the cracks, and treatment is necessary to get the infestation under control.

Finally, finish cleaning all of your cat’s belongings, your furniture, and anywhere else your cat frequents. The lice and their eggs can fall off in those areas, and if you don’t clean these areas, the lice can come back even if you kill every single one on your cat.

divider 2 cats

Final Thoughts

While you might feel like things are crawling on you after you treat a lice infestation, since they’re species-specific, you don’t need to worry about them jumping onto you. Instead, focus all your time and energy on treating your cat so they can start feeling better and you can kick all the lice out of your home as soon as possible!

Featured Image Credit: socrates471, Shutterstock

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