Ear mites commonly affect dogs and cats of all ages and breeds. They are extremely contagious yet fairly easy to treat. Here, our East Setauket vets share the symptoms, causes and treatment options for ear mites in cats.
Ear Mites in Cats: What are they?
Ear mites (also known as otodectes cynotis mites) are commonly found in cats and are part of the arachnid class of animals. This external parasite lives in the ear canal of the host animal and is extremely contagious moving easily from one animal to the next.
Ear mites are tiny, but you may be able to notice them as quickly moving white spots if you have good eyesight. They have eight legs and a smaller set of legs. For reference, pictures of ear mites in cats can be found using your search engine of choice.
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.
The Causes of Ear Mites in Cats
You may be wondering 'What causes ear mites in cats?'. What is the cause of their infection and how are they transmitted from one pet to another?
Ear mites will make their way from one animal to the next infecting each one and causing uncomfortable symptoms. 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.
Shelter cats also commonly contract ear mites, so be sure to check your newly adopted cat for ear mites and schedule a routine exam with your vet as soon as possible.
The Common Symptoms of Eat Mites in Cats
The most common signs of ear mites in cats 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
Ear Mites in Cats Treatment Options
If you have a pet dog or cat then you may have needed to look into the treatment for ear mites. Luckily treatment is pretty simple.
If your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, your vet will provide antiparasitic medication in either a topical or oral 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.
Because ear mites are contagious it is likely that each pet in your home will need to 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.
The Prevention of 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. Your vet will also be happy to recommend parasite prevention products for your feline companion.
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.