What Are Ear Mites in Cats?

Ringworm in Cats

Ear mites are tiny, spider looking parasites that like to eat wax and oils found in a cat’s ears. While there are many kinds of ear mites, the type your cat will most likely get is Otodectes cynotis. Each ear mite usually lives about 3 weeks and is rarely seen with your bare eye. Ear mites can infect your cat’s inner and outer ear canal by causing inflammation and irritation, which can lead to serious skin and ear infections without proper treatment.

Ear mite infections, usually present with a dark discharge that looks like coffee grounds, and in a severe case it can cause an obstruction in the cat’s ear. As if this weren’t enough, ear mites in cats can also cause the blood vessels in the ear to burst from all the head shaking and scratching. This problem is called an aural hematoma and most often needs surgery to be corrected.

How Do Cats Get Ear Mites?

Cats usually get ear mites from contact with other animals that already have and ear mite infestation. Ear mites are very contagious and do not discriminate between outside cats or indoor cats.

Ear mites can take hold in dogs and cats, but present more in cats and cause more than 50% of ear infections. These ear mites can be found in cats young and old but are found mostly in kittens and stray or outdoor cats. Humans however, are normally exempt from getting ear mites.

How Do You Spot Ear Mites in Cats?

There are some usual signs of an ear mite infestation, but do not try to diagnose and treat and ear mite infection without a veterinary consult. Ear mite infestation can have these symptoms, extreme scratching, or rubbing of ears, head shaking, dermatitis and hair loss, brown or black waxy discharge, strong odor, scabs or scratches in or around the ears, and ear canal blockage that appears like coffee grounds.

How Do You Treat Ear Mites in Cats?

Treatment for ear mites in cats starts with a visit to a veterinarian to receive an accurate diagnosis. A swab sample of the discharge in your cat’s ear will be looked at under a microscope. If the swab is positive, your vet will prescribe products or medications that will go in the ear or on your cat’s skin.

Debris build-up or an ear infection could mean that a cleaning needs to be done, using cotton and ear cleanser. You may receive ear drops that are medicated or antibiotics to treat any infections. Your feline should feel better shortly after treatment is started, but you should complete the entire course of treatment to make sure the ear mites are all exterminated.

How Do You Prevent Ear Mites in Cats?

Cleaning your feline’s ears regularly will help you notice if there are any signs of an ear mite infestation. If your cat has just gotten through an ear mite infestation, then you should clean all your cat’s bedding and check all other pets in the house for signs of an infestation.