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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Pests among pets can be fairly common. One of the most common are tiny mites that live inside the folds of your pet's ears. Here, our Sacramento vets discuss the causes of ear mites in cats, the symptoms they may experience, and how they can be treated.

Ear Mites in Cats

Ear mites (also known as otodectes cynotis mites) are a parasite that is commonly found on cats but did you know that they are part of the arachnid family? This external parasite is incredibly contagious and primarily lives within the ear canal of the pets it infects.

These pests are very small but you should still be able to see them moving if you look close enough. 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.

What causes ear mites in cats?

Ear mites can cause serious discomfort for your cat but how exactly are they 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. 

You should always have new cats checked out by your vet for ear mites and other parasites.

What are the symptoms of ear mites in pets?

Some of the typical symptoms that a cat may experience with ear mites include:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at ears
  • Inflammation 
  • 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 
  • Pus 

If you would like a more in-depth look at what the symptoms are and what ear mites look like, you can search the internet for 'ear mites in cats pictures'.

How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Cats

For ear mites in cats, the treatment is pretty straightforward. Your vet will be able to prescribe medication that can help to treat your cat and rid them of this pest.

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. 

In some cases, secondary infection or complication may occur so your vet will diagnose and treat those as necessary as well. 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. 

Ear mites are contagious and will quickly move to a new host, so all pets in your home should be treated at the same time.

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.

Preventing Ear Mites in Cats

With routine checkups, your vet can examine your cat's ears and check for any signs that your feline friend is experincing an infestation. 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. 

Are you concerned that your cat may be suffering from an ear mite infection? Contact Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital today to schedule an examination for your feline friend.

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