In this article, our veterinarians provide insight into ear mites, a frequently encountered parasite that can cause infections and itching in cats. We discuss the symptoms, causes, and appropriate treatments for this condition.
Ear mites (otodectes cynotis mites) are commonly found in cats and are part of the arachnid class of animals. This extremely contagious external parasite makes its home on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the skin's surface.
These creatures are small and move quickly, appearing as white spots if your eyesight is good. They have eight legs, but their hind legs are noticeably smaller. You can use your favorite online search engine to see pictures of ear mites in cats. The thumbnail image for this post depicts a buildup of black wax inside a cat's ear with ear mites.
Ear mites can cause severe irritation in cats and lead to skin and ear infections if left untreated. It's important to treat them promptly. When cats show signs of ear infections, it's often caused by ear mites. Ear mite infections in humans are rare and not considered a significant health risk.
What Causes of Ear Mites in Cats?
As a cat owner, you may start learning about ear mites and wonder how these parasites end up in your feline's ears and cause them distress. Many cat owners eventually ask their veterinarian, "What causes ear mites in cats?" Ear mites are highly contagious and can easily spread from one infected animal to another.
Although they are most common in cats, they can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time in boarding facilities or outdoors and comes into contact with another animal or a contaminated surface like a grooming tool or bedding, ear mites can be easily transmitted.
Shelter cats also commonly contract ear mites, so be sure to check your newly adopted cat for ear mites and schedule a routine exam with your vet as soon as possible.
Symptoms of 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
How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats
If your furry friend has ear mites, you may have searched for ways to get rid of them. Luckily, treating ear mites in cats is simple. If your vet confirms a diagnosis of ear mites, they will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication in either oral or topical form. Additionally, they may use a cleaning solution to clean your cat's ears and prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe.
Additionally, your veterinarian will determine if any secondary infections are present as a result of the infestation and treat them as necessary. Your veterinarian will almost certainly recommend that you return in a week or two to ensure that the mites have been eliminated and that no further treatment is required.
If your pet has ear mites, it is important to be aware that they are contagious. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe medication for any other pets in your home to prevent the mites from spreading.
It is not advisable to rely on home remedies for treating ear mites in cats. Although some methods may work against the mites, most at-home treatments do not eliminate the mites' eggs. Therefore, even if the mites seem to be gone, the infestation may reoccur once the eggs hatch.
How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats
To prevent ear mites from becoming a problem, it's recommended to schedule a monthly checkup and ear cleaning with your veterinarian. It's also important to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and house biweekly to reduce the risk of infection. If you're unsure about which parasite-prevention products to use for your cat, consult with your veterinarian at Jackson Animal Clinic for recommendations.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.