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Cuterebra Infestations in Cats PDF Print E-mail

cat hiding in grassYour pet may become exposed to many parasites in their environment with warmer weather. One of those parasites is the larva of the Cuterebra fly that may cause a wound or sore on your pet?s skin. Your pet is most likely to be affected in the summer and fall which corresponds to the most active egg-laying time for the adult fly.

What is Cuterebra, how can it infect my cat?

The Cuterebra fly is a large non-biting fly that looks like a bee and lays its eggs on rocks or vegetation located near the openings of rabbit or rodent burrows. Some reports have suggested that eggs can be found in garden mulch that has been obtained near such areas. The rabbit or wild rodent are the normal hosts, and can pick up these eggs on their coats and ingest them during grooming. Cats and dogs may also be exposed in this manner by contacting the eggs as they pass near rabbit or rodent burrows in their environment. Eggs hatch once they are exposed to the warm body temperatures of their cat or dog hosts. The newly hatched larvae invade the host body often through the mouth, nasal passages, or an external wound.

The larva migrates to an area under the skin of the pet, typically on the head, neck, or trunk. A cyst or thick capsule is created under the skin as the larva grows; a circular breathing hole may appear as an open wound with matted hair. There is often fluid drainage from the opening and the animal, especially the cat, will groom the area excessively.

What should I expect to see if my pet has been infested by a Cuterebra larva?


Do not attempt to remove the larva yourself!

Doing so may seriously harm your pet.

Most pets will present to their veterinarian for an open wound or draining sore. If the pet has a long-hair coat, the owner may notice an area of matted hair that appears to irritate the pet causing excessive grooming at the site. Occasionally, the area may appear as a lump or swelling which is also referred to as a warble (the other common name for a Cuterebra cyst). Owners may actually observe the caterpillar-like larvae sticking it’s head from the open hole at times to breathe much like a swimmer periodically coming up for air.

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.

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