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Cat Ear Mites: Causes, Symptoms, and How to Treat Them (2018 Update)

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Here are the best treatment options for cat ear mites:

Ear mites are a common issue in pets, but especially in cats.

They make their home in your kitty’s ears causing them lots of irritation and discomfort.

The irritation is usually mild. But, if left untreated, ear mites can lead to much more serious infections.

In this article, we’re going to break down what ear mites in cats are, what causes them, the symptoms, treatment options, and more.

By the end, you should be fully prepared to identify and treat ear mites.

What Are Ear Mites?

Ear Mites in Cats Image

Cat ear mites are tiny parasites that like to live in the outer part of the ear and internal canal.

The most common form in cats is otodectes cynotis. This eight-legged mite is found throughout the world and is common in other animals as well. The mites are non-burrowing, which means they can be seen by the naked eye, although barely.

However, the most tell-tale sign of ear mite presence is the dark-colored discharge they leave behind.

What Causes Ear Mites in Cats?

Orange Cat

Ear mites are usually contracted by exposure to them.

Once exposed through another animal, contaminated area, or an object containing the mites, the mites then transfer to the cat and multiply, making them highly contagious.

While causing discomfort, they are also one of the most common causes of feline ear infections.

Ear mites cannot infect humans, and usually die within a few weeks of living on a human host.

The Symptoms of Cat Ear Mites

Here are some of the most common symptoms of ear mites in cats:

  • - Frantic scratching of ears
  • - Head shaking
  • - Dark discharge or residue around the ear
  • - Odor
  • - Ear tilt down or to the side
  • - Ear hematomas
  • - Ear wax buildup
  • - Inflammation
  • - Obstruction of the ear canal with dark discharge
  • - Hair loss around the ears

Source: PetWave

Diagnosing Ear Mites

This infection can often be diagnosed with a physical inspection. You will either see the mites themselves, the redness, or the dark discharge they leave behind.

However, even if you believe your cat has ear mites, it is still imperative that you take him or her to the vet and get a professional opinion. They will perform lab tests to make sure it is actually ear mites and they will check for other diseases as well that may have arisen as a result, like skin and yeast infections.

The Dangers of Ear Mites

Cat Laying

Ear mites themselves typically only cause itching and irritation, but they can lead to more serious bacterial or fungal infections.

Itching and scratching can lead to open sores. These sores are the perfect avenue for more serious infections to take hold.

The discharge that ear mites leave behind can also become so prevalent that it partially or completely blocks the cat’s ear canal, leading to hearing problems.

Because of these issues, it’s important that ear mites are treated as soon as possible.

Which Cat Breeds Are Most Prone?

Ear mites can affect any cat, no matter their breed.

However, outdoor cats and kittens are more likely to make contact with ear mites. Therefore, it is most common in cats that are frequently outdoors.

The Best Treatment Options for Cat Ear Mites

If you believe your cat has ear mites, the first thing you should do is take him or her to the vet. Their, your vet can precisely diagnose what’s going on and prescribe anti-parasitic and/or anti-inflammatory medication.

They can also help clean out your kitty’s ear of any debris buildup.

The following solutions can also help cleanse your cat’s ear and keep it clean. (They are excellent preventative measures, but might not be alternatives to prescription medication):

1. Zymox Otic – Best Overall Ear Cleanser

Zymox Otic

Zymox Otic is the best ear cleanser on the market. It works to clear ears of debri, relieve inflammation, and protect against harmful bacteria, fungus and yeasts that cause ear infections.

They use the LP3 Enzyme System with enzymes that are naturally occurring. They have powerful antimicrobial properties, and do not contain antibiotics (for pets with sensitive ears).

Zymox is safe to use on cats, dogs, and small pets.

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2. Otomite Plus Ear Mite Treatment


Otomite is an excellent solution for eliminating ear mites without irritation.

It contains the highest levels of synergized pyrethrins available (an insecticide that targets the nervous system of insects) and can be used on cats of any age.

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3. Otiderm Ear Cleanser


Otiderm is great for pets with sensitive ears, as it is specifically designed to deodorize and gently clean ears.

At the same time, it also acidifies the pet’s ear canal and dries on its own. Clean and dry is the ideal environment for healthy ears.

It’s an anti-irritant forumal with neutral pH and aloe vera, and it can be used safely in conjunction with ear medications.

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4. ProLabs Ear Mite Killer Lotion

ProLabs Lotion

ProLabs is an ear mite killer that repels ear mites as well as a host of other pests: flies, gnats, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, lice, and mange mites.

The lotion can be used on cats, dogs, horses, foals, puppies, or kittens.

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Are There Home Remedies?

Yes, there are a few home remedies for treating feline ear mites. While they aren’t as recommended as prescription medication or ear cleansing products, they can work.

  • - Mineral oil: removal of mites
  • - Olive oil: removal of debris
  • - White vinegar: kills mites
  • - Hydrogen peroxide: kills mites
  • - Honey: antibacterial and antiseptic
  • - Green tea: natural antiseptic

You can learn more here.

How to Prevent Mites from Coming Back

Mites struggle to live in clean, dry environments, so the best preventative measure is to clean your cat’s ears on a regular basis and make sure they are free of moisture.

To Wrap It Up

Ear mites are pesky creatures. They can cause lots of irritation for your cat, and they can lead to worse infections if not taken care of.

Luckily, you now know how to treat ear mites in your cat.

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