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?
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?
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
- Ear tilt down or to the side
- Ear hematomas
- Ear wax buildup
- Obstruction of the ear canal with dark discharge
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
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):