Categories: parasites

Picture of a warble pulled from under the skin of a kitten

Warning: This is a bit unpleasant but educational. Adults and kids alike should be acquainted with these parasites if they have an outdoor family cat. This is a picture of a warble – a grub that is at the botfly larval stage – being pulled gently out from under the skin of a kitten. Botfly (also spelled: bott fly, bot fly, or bot-fly, Cuterebra fly) larvae burrow their way to a position under the skin forming cyst-like lumps. In the photo below, the area of the kitten is the underside of the neck. This is an area where warbles are often seen in kittens (src: Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic – “the clinic”). Note: This is in North America – USA.

It is important that the grub is not crushed as this can, apparently, cause the kitten to suffer anaphylactic shock. This photo has been used with permission for teaching/educational purposes at this website. The source is Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic. Thank you.

Botfly larva pulled from kitten’s neck. Photo copyright Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic

This is the botfly:

Botfly – photo: stonebird (Flickr)

If you’d like to use the photograph please ask the veterinary clinic first. However, it is a grizzly, slightly sickening picture. Newly hatched larva of the botfly penetrate the skin of the host animal that includes rabbits rodents and yes, cats. Cats acquire this nasty parasite by direct contact with soil that is infested with the parasite. Sometimes the female botfly lays eggs on the animals (src: the clinic).  The clinic also say that the grub can get into the animal through an open wound, mouth or nose and then migrate inside the body of the host animal to a place under the skin. The larva makes a breathing hole and after a month it falls out having pushed its way out of the animal. There can be several in one location. The most common areas inside the animal are: along jawbone, around face, under belly and side of cat.

Cats will find it irritating and lick and groom the area heavily, which can lead to a secondary (bacterial) infection.

A visitor to the Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic Flickr channel says that he used peroxide to remove the warble. He filled a syringe with it and squirted it into the wound. Warbles don’t like it and they leave or are killed. He applied neosporin to the wound afterward. It healed well apparently. Note: please seek veterinary advice. This is vet’s work as it can go wrong trying to do it yourself unless you have proven skills.

Associated Pages:

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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