Ear Mites: External Parasitic Infections in Cats
Ear mites (also known as otodectes cynotis mites) are commonly found in cats and are part of the arachnid class of animals. These external parasites are incredibly contagious, making their home in the ears and on the skin of pets and making their way from one pet to another.
While ear mites are tiny parasites, those with good eyesight will likely be able to see them moving around in their cat's ears. They have eight legs and a smaller set of thing legs. If you would like a better idea of what they look like you can search the internet for 'ear mite in cats pictures'.
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. The good news is that ear mites are not known to infect humans so you and any other family members although any pets will need to be treated along with the infected cat.
How Cats Get Ear Mites
The first question that you may after learning about these pests is how your cat became infected with them. So what is the cause of their infection and how are they transmitted from one pet to another?
Due to being highly contagious, ear mites can spread easily 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 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.
Signs & Symptoms of Ear Mites in Cats
The ear mite symptoms that are most commonly seen 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
Treating Ear Mite Infestations in Cats
Many pet owners who have dealt with ear mites in their furry friends have surely wondered about how to treat ear mites in cats. Luckily, treating cats who are infected with ear mites is a pretty simple process.
When ear mites infect cats, the vet will recommend treatment using 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.
This medication will also be recommended for any and all pets that live in the house due to the highly infectious nature of these pests.
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.