Warbles are nothing but Cuterebra fly’s larval form. These are typically found in cats and dogs during the summer. The female Cuterebra goes through the natural process of laying eggs, either on animals or around nests. This egg will hatch after receiving body heat while the larva will penetrate the animal via an opening like the nose, mouth or even open wounds. The larva further move through the cat/dog’s body and settle just underneath the skin. It is here that they create a breathing hole.
Hence the lump-like structure that you notice under your cat’s skin is a botfly larva infested warble.
Getting rid of warbles in cats
The first step towards treating warbles in cats is to visit the veterinarian for a consultation. He/she might be able to eliminate the botfly larva in addition to recommending suitable follow-up care. This will allow the cat to heal properly and within good time. There are several different ways in which a veterinarian may choose to remove warbles. Some of them include the following:
- The vet may give anesthesia to the cat and use surgical tools and equipment to widen the skin opening. He/she will then remove the botfly with the help of tweezers or a hemostats pair.
- In the event that the skin opening is large and the size of the botfly is small, surgery might not be needed at all. Instead, the doctor may use an anesthetic to numb the larva and extract it out.
- In some cases, doctors may decide to place a salve or liquid into the skin opening which stops the larva from breathing. This way, the botfly will begin to come out slowly and the doctor can grasp it and pull it out.
In order to treat any secondary infections, the veterinarian may administer antibiotics via an injection.
Surgical extraction is helpful in removing larvae seen on the soft tissue near the eyes, nasal sinuses or mouth area. In cases where the larvae infection affects the brain or spine, it usually becomes difficult to remove the warble. Cat owners are advised to control warble infestations with the help of topical insecticides like fipronil. There are some organic compounds also available for controlling larvae migration.
Medical experts suggest that steroid hormones are helpful in preventing the parasite from affecting the lungs. Vets may also prescribe anti-parasitic drugs for destroying migrating maggots. The use of ivermectin has been reported to be effective with regards to curbing larvae in the migratory stage. When combined with corticosteroids, it can offer a lot of relief to the cat.
The most critical part of the treatment is to ensure that the botfly larva is removed completely and any significant damage to body is prevented.