Is your cat shaking their head repeatedly or pawing at their ears? It could be ear mites. Today our Rainbow City vets discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for ear mites in cats.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites - or otodectes cynotis mites - are a common external parasite found in cats. They live on the surface of your cat's ear canal and sometimes even on the surface of the skin.
Ear mites are extremely contagious and can cause severe irritation for your four-legged friend. Thankfully ear mites are relatively easy to treat, but if they are left untreated ear mites can cause severe ear and skin infections. When cats are brought into the vet with complaints of ear infections, ear mites are often the culprit.
Causes of Ear Mites in Cats
Ear mites are highly contagious and can easily spread from one infected animal to another. Although most prevalent in cats, ear mites can be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time outside or in boarding facilities they could easily pick up ear mites from getting too close to another animal or through touching contaminated surfaces like bedding or grooming tools.
Mites are common in shelter cats. Be sure to check newly adopted cats for ear mites and bring them to your vet for a routine exam as soon as possible.
Signs That Your Cat May Have Ear Mites
If your cat is displaying one or more of the following symptoms there is a good chance that your kitty has ear mites.
- Repeated head-shaking
- Scratching or pawing at ears
- A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear that looks somewhat like coffee grounds
- Inflammation or redness in the ear
- Irritation or hair loss from excessive scratching around the ears
How to Get Rid Of Ear Mites in Cats
Thankfully, when it comes to ear mites in cats, the treatment is pretty straightforward. If your cat is diagnosed with ear mites your vet will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication. Medications are available in topical or oral form. Your veterinarian may also clean your cat’s ears with an appropriate cleaning solution.
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.
Due to the contagious nature of ear mites, your vet will probably also prescribe medication for any other household pets to ensure the infestation doesn't continue.
Home remedies for ear mites are not advisable. While there are some methods that can kill mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the eggs of the mites. So while it may appear that the mites are gone, the infestation will start again when the eggs hatch.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.