Ear mites are relatively common external parasites among cats and can cause severe ear irritation. In this blog, our Novato vets discuss the causes and symptoms of ear mites in cats and explain how they can be treated.
Ear mites (also referred to as otodectes cynotis mites) are a common external parasite often seen in cats. They reside on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the surface of the skin.
Ear mites are very contagious and can cause severe irritation for your feline companion. Ear mites are fairly easy to treat, but if left untreated can cause severe ear and skin infections. When cats are brought into the vet with complaints of ear infections, ear mites are often the culprit.
How Cats Get Ear Mites
Ear mites are highly contagious and can be easily spread by infected animals. While they are seen more often in cats, these mites can also infect dogs and other animals in the wild. Your kitty can easily get ear mites if they go outside or if they stay in boarding facilities, where they can get too close to an infected animal or touch a surface that is contaminated such as grooming tools or bedding.
Since mites are very common in shelter cats, we highly recommend taking your newly adopted furry friend to the vet for a routine exam as quickly as possible so they can be checked for ear mites.
Symptoms & Signs of Cat Ear Mites
Below are the most common signs and symptoms of ear mites in cats:
- Scratching at ears
- Irritation or hair loss from excessive scratching around the ears
- A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds
Treating Ear Mites in Cats
Luckily, it's relatively straightforward to treat ear mites in cats. If your vet diagnoses your feline friend with ear mires they will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication. These medications can be given in either an oral or topical form. Your vet might also clean your kitty's ears with an appropriate cleaning solution.
Your vet will also look to see if there are any secondary infections present as a result of the infestation and treat them as required. Your veterinarian will probably ask you to return to the office in a week or two to see if the mites are gone and make sure that further treatment is not necessary.
As ear mites are extremely contagious, your vet will most likely provide you with medications for the other pets in your home in order to help stop or prevent the infestation.
We do not recommend using home remedies for ear mites. While there are some methods that can kill mites, lots of at-home treatments do not kill ear mite eggs. So, while it might seem like your cat no longer has ear mites, they will become reinfested when the eggs hatch.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.