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Ear Mites in Cats - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Ear mites can cause severe irritation to a cat's ears and skin, but fortunately, this common parasite is relatively easy to treat. Today, we provide information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ear mites in cats.

What are ear mites? 

Ear mites, known as otodectes cynotis mites, commonly infest cats and belong to the arachnid class of animals. These highly contagious external parasites inhabit the surface of the ear canal and sometimes the skin.

These minuscule creatures can be detected as fast-moving white spots, especially if you have good eyesight. They possess eight legs, with a noticeably smaller pair of hind legs. When a cat has ear mites, you will begin to notice a buildup of black wax that looks much like old coffee grinds. See the images below for more details.

Ear mites can cause severe irritation in our feline companions. Although they are relatively easy to treat, neglecting them can lead to severe skin and ear infections. Suspected ear infections in cats are often attributed to ear mites. It's important to note that human ear mite infections are rare and generally not considered a health risk.

What causes ear mites in cats?

As you begin reading about the world of ear mites, you might wonder how these parasites infiltrate your cat's ears, causing distress. Some cat owners will eventually ask their veterinarians, "What causes ear mites in cats?" Ear mites spread easily from one infected animal to another due to their high contagiousness. While cats are most commonly affected, dogs and other wild animals can harbor these pests. If your cat frequents boarding facilities or the outdoors, coming into contact with other animals or contaminated surfaces like grooming tools or bedding can lead to the transmission of ear mites.

Shelter cats often fall victim to ear mites, so it's crucial to examine your newly adopted cat for signs of infestation and promptly schedule a veterinary check-up.

How can I tell if my cat has ear mites?

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

  • Hair or loss or irritation due to excessive scratching around the ears 
  • Dark crusty or waxy discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds 
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at ears
  • Pus 
  • Inflammation 

Ear Mites in Cats - Pictures

How do you get rid of ear mites in cats?

Many pet owners wondering how to treat ear mites in cats find themselves frantically searching for solutions online. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to get rid of ear mites in cats. Following a diagnosis of ear mites, your vet will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication for your cat. This medication is available in oral or topical forms. The vet may also clean your cat's ears with a designated solution and may prescribe antibiotics based on the infection's severity.

Additionally, your vet will check for any secondary infections resulting from the infestation and treat them as needed. A follow-up appointment in a week or two will likely be recommended to ensure complete mite elimination and assess the need for further treatment. To prevent the infestation from spreading, your vet will likely prescribe medication for any other household pets due to the contagious nature of ear mites.

Using home remedies for ear mites in cats is not advisable because many fail to eliminate mite eggs. Consequently, even if the mites seem gone, the infestation can reoccur when the eggs hatch.

How can I prevent my cat from getting ear mites?

If ear mites are a problem for your cat, you may want to schedule a monthly check-up and ear cleaning with your veterinarian or learn to clean your cat's ears at home. Your vet can provide you with guidance and recommend a suitable cleaning solution for your cat's ears. Set a biweekly reminder to thoroughly clean any areas in your home where your kitty likes to spend a lot of time. Consult your veterinarian at Guilford-Jamestown Veterinary Hospital for parasite-prevention product recommendations for your cat.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

Is your cat showing signs of ear mites? Contact our Greensboro vets today to book an examination for your kitty.

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