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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are a common, highly contagious external parasite, but are fairly easy to treat. They can cause severe irritation in both ears and skin in cats and dogs, and lead to infections that cause excessive itching, scratching and eventual health issues. Cats are diagnosed with them more often than dogs. Our Gold Canyon vets list symptoms, causes and treatments for ear mites in cats. 

Ear Mites in Cats

Ear mites (otodectes cynotis mites) are often found in cats and are classified under the arachnid animal class. This extremely contagious external parasite lives on the surface of the ear canal, and sometimes on the skin's surface. 

While ear mites are tiny, you might see quickly moving white spots if you've got good eyesight. These eight-legged parasites have noticeably smaller hind legs (find ear mites in cats pictures by using your favorite online search engine. The thumbnail image for this post shows a buildup of black wax inside the ear of a cat with ear mites).

Left untreated, ear mites can cause severe irritation in our feline companions and lead to severe skin and ear infections. Ear mites are also often an underlying cause of ear infections in cats. Ear mites are not considered a risk to people as ear mite infections in humans are rare. 

Causes of Ear Mites in Cats 

If you've started to read about ear mites and are wondering how these parasites get into your cat's ears to cause havoc. Some cat parents will ask their vet, 'What causes ear mites in cats?'. 

Because they are highly contagious, ear mites can easily spread from one infected animal to another. While they are most common in cats, ear mites can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time outside or in boarding facilities and gets too close to another animal or touches a contaminated surface such as bedding or a grooming tool, ear mites can easily be transmitted. 

Shelter cats are also often afflicted with 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 

Here are some common signs of ear mites in cats:

  • Scratching at ears
  • Inflammation
  • Hair loss or irritation due to excessive scratching around the ears 
  • Pus 
  • Head shaking 
  • Dark crusty or waxy discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds 

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.

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. 

Using home remedies for ear mites in cats is not advisable. While there are some methods that can kill mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the eggs of the mites. So it while it may appear that the mites are gone, the infestation will start again when the eggs hatch. 

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

Arranging a monthly checkup and ear cleaning with your vet will help to keep ear mites from gaining a foothold. Set yourself a bi-weekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding and house to reduce the risk of an infection occurring at home. Your vet at Companion Pet Clinic of Arizona can recommend parasite prevention products for your cat.

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.

Do you think your cat may have ear mites? Contact Companion Pet Clinic of Arizona today to book an appointment.

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