While they are a common external parasite, ear mites are highly contagious. They can severely irritate both ears and skin in cats and dogs and lead to infections that cause excessive itching, scratching, and eventual health issues. They are more common in cats than dogs and are fairly easy to treat. Here, our Glendale vets list symptoms, causes, and treatments for ear mites in cats. 

Ear Mites 

Ear mites (otodectes cynotis mites) are arachnids that are commonly found in cats. This highly contagious external parasite lives on the surface of the ear canal and, on rare occasions, the skin.

They're tiny, but if you have good eyesight, you might notice them as rapidly moving white spots. They have eight legs, with a noticeably smaller pair of hind legs (ear mites in cats images can be found by using your favorite online search engine, and the thumbnail image for this post shows a buildup of black wax inside a cat's ear with ear mites).

They can irritate our feline companions greatly. While ear mites are relatively easy to treat, they can cause serious skin and ear infections if left untreated. Ear mites are frequently the underlying cause of suspected ear infections in cats. Human ear mite infections are uncommon, and they are not generally regarded as a health risk.

What causes ear mites in cats?

You may begin to learn more about ear mites and wonder how these parasites get into your cat's ears and cause such anguish. 'What causes ear mites in cats?' will be a question some cat owners will ask their veterinarian. Because of their high contagiousness, ear mites can easily spread from one infected animal to another. Ear mites are most commonly found in cats, but they can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. Ear mites are easily transmitted if your cat spends time in boarding facilities or outdoors and gets too close to another animal or touches a contaminated surface such as a grooming tool or bedding.

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. 

Symptoms of Ear Mites

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

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

How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats

Many a pet owner who has dealt with ear mites in their furry friend has likely frantically typed 'How to get rid of ear mites in cats' into their favorite search engine, looking for solutions. Fortunately, when it comes to ear mites in cats, treatment is relatively straightforward. If your vet diagnoses your cat with ear mites, an anti-parasitic medication will be prescribed. These medications are available in oral or topical form. The veterinarian may also clean your cat's ears with a cleaning solution designed for this purpose and prescribe a course of antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection.

In addition, your veterinarian will determine whether any secondary infections have developed as a result of the infestation and treat them as needed. Your veterinarian will almost certainly advise you to return in a week or two to ensure that the mites have vanished and that no additional treatment is required.

Because ear mites are contagious, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe medication for any other household pets to prevent the infestation from spreading.

It is not recommended to use home remedies for ear mites in cats. While some methods are effective at killing mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the mites' eggs. So, while the mites may appear to be gone, the infestation will resume once the eggs hatch.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

Ear mites can be prevented by scheduling a monthly pet checkup and ear cleaning with your veterinarian. To reduce the risk of an infection at home, set a bi-weekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and your house. Your cat's parasite prevention products can be recommended by your veterinarian at Limehouse Veterinary Clinic.

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. 

Do you suspect your cat may have ear mites? Contact our experienced Glendale vets today to book an appointment.