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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites in cats are relatively easy to treat, but they can severely irritate the ears and skin. Today, our Seattle vets list the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ear mites in cats.

Ear Mites

Ear mites, scientifically known as otodectes cynotis mites, are highly contagious external parasites that belong to the arachnid family. They primarily reside on the surface of the ear canal or the skin.

Despite their tiny size, you might be able to spot ear mites as fast-moving white spots if you have sharp vision. These creatures have eight legs and a smaller pair of thin legs.

Although treating ear mites is relatively straightforward, they can cause significant discomfort to your pet. If left untreated, they can lead to severe skin and ear infections.

Ear mites are often the underlying cause of ear infections in cats diagnosed by our veterinarians. However, it's worth noting that humans rarely contract ear mites, and they are generally not considered a health risk for people.

Causes of Ear Mites 

If you're curious about what causes ear mites in cats, it's important to understand how these parasites find their way into a cat's ears and cause such discomfort. Additionally, knowing how the infection develops and how ear mites are transmitted from one animal to another can shed light on the matter.

Ear mites are highly contagious, making it easy for them to spread from one animal to another. While they are most commonly found in cats, they can also affect dogs and other wild animals.

Cats that spend time in boarding facilities or roam outdoors are particularly at risk if they come into close contact with an infested animal or come into contact with contaminated surfaces like bedding or grooming tools.

Shelter cats also often contract ear mites, so make sure to have your newly adopted cat checked for ear mites and book a routine exam with your vet as soon as possible. 

Signs of Ear Mites in Cats

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

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

Treating Ear Mites in Cats

Many pet owners who have dealt with ear mites in their furry friends have surely wondered about how to get rid of ear mites in cats. Thankfully, treatment is relatively straightforward. 

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. 

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. 

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.

Preventing Ear Mites in Cats

To ensure your cat is protected from severe infestations of ear mites, it's important to schedule regular checkups and ear cleanings with your veterinarian. These preventative measures can go a long way in safeguarding your cat's health.

Additionally, don't forget to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and your home regularly to detect and eliminate any stray mites that may be present. Consulting with your vet will also provide you with valuable recommendations on effective parasite prevention products to keep your feline companion protected.

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.

Is your cat showing signs of ear mites? Contact our Seattle vets to book your kitty an appointment.

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