Ear mites are usually easy to treat but can lead to extreme irritation in cats and other infected animals. In this post, our Southern Wisconsin vets share the causes, symptoms, and treatments for ear mites in cats.
Ear mites are highly contagious external parasites part of the arachnid class of animals. These mites embed themselves in the ear canal or skin of animals, irritating them and sometimes leading to open wounds.
While ear mites are tiny, you may notice them as quickly moving white spots if you have good eyesight. They are eight-legged creatures, with a smaller set of thin legs.
Though ear mites are relatively easy to treat, they can cause significant irritation to your pet, leading to severe skin and ear infections if they aren't caught early.
When our vets diagnose cats with ear infections, ear mites are often the underlying cause. Humans rarely become infected with ear mites; they are generally not considered a health risk for people.
Causes of Ear Mites
"What causes ear mites in cats?" you might ask. How do these parasites get into a cat's ears in the first place? How does the infection and transmission occur?
Because they are so contagious, ear mites can spread easily from one four-legged creature to another. They are most common in cats, but ear mites can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. Cats who spend time in boarding environments or outdoors are at risk if they get too close to another animal or touch a contaminated surface such as 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:
- Scratching at ears
- Head shaking
- 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.
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
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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.