When it comes to external parasites, ear mites are one of the most commonly seen on cats and dogs. Here, our Rancho Palos Verdes vets share some of the causes and symptoms of ear mites in cats and what can be done to relieve your cat of this pest.
Ear mites (also known as otodectes cynotis mites) are a parasite that is commonly found on cats but did you know that they are actually part of the arachnid family? This external parasite is incredibly contagious and primarily lives within the ear canal of the pets they infect.
While they can be quite small you can usually see their subtle movement if you look very closely. They have eight legs and a smaller set of thing legs. There are plenty of images on the internet of what ear mites look like as they infect cats.
These parasites cause significant irritation in our feline friends and, while ear mites are quite easy to treat, they can lead to severe skin and ear infections if they aren't caught early. When we see cats with ear infections, ear mites are often the underlying cause. Ear mites very rarely infect humans and are generally not considered a risk to the health of people.
Causes of Ear Mites in Cats
We know that this external parasite can make your cat feel pretty terrible, but how exactly is this pest transmitted?
Ear mites pass very easily from one animal to the next which makes them highly contagious. While they are most common in cats, ear mites can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time in boarding environments or outdoors and gets too close to another animal or touches a contaminated surface such as a grooming tool or bedding, ear mites can easily be transmitted.
If you get your new cat from a shelter you should be sure to have them checked out by your vet for ear mites and other parasites.
Symptoms of Ear Mites
Some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with ear mites include:
- Head shaking
- Scratching at ears
- 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
How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats
If your cat is infected with ear mites you will likely wonder what steps you should take to help clear up the infestation. Luckily with the help of your vet, you can help your kitty find relief quickly.
The medication used to treat ear mites in cats will be either in an oral or topical form. Your veterinarian will also likely clear your cat's ears out of the characteristic wax and discharge associated with these parasites and prescribe a course of antibiotics depending on how severe your cat's specific case is.
Your vet will also assess if there are any secondary infections present from the infestation and treat them as required. Your vet will probably suggest you return to the office in a week or two to ensure the mites are gone and that further treatment is not necessary.
Since ear mites can easily spread from one pet to the next your vet will likely recommend that every animal in your house be treated.
We do not advise using home remedies for ear mites in cats. While some methods are capable of killing mites, many at-home treatments don't kill the eggs of these parasites. So, while it appears that the mites are gone. The infestation will begin again when the eggs hatch.
How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats
Arranging frequent checkups and ear cleanings for your cat with your veterinarian will be a sure way of preventing more serious infestations of ear mites on your cat. Likewise, make sure that you clean your cat's kennel, bedding and your home to catch any stray mites. Speak with your vet to learn more about which parasite prevention products they recommend.
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.