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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

While ear mites can cause severe irritation to a cat's skin and ears, they are relatively easy to treat. Our vets in Queens discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of ear mites in cats in this post. 

Ear Mites

Ear mites (otodectes cynotis mites) are a fairly common and extremely contagious external parasite found in cats. They are part of the arachnid class of animals. These mites make their home on the surface of a cat's ear canal, and sometimes on the surface of the skin. 

While ear mites are tiny, you may be able to notice them as quickly moving white spots if your eyesight is exceptional. They have eight legs, including a noticeably smaller pair of hind legs. You can find ear mites in cats pictures by using your favorite online search engine. Also take a look at the thumbnail image for this post, which shows a buildup of black wax in the ear of a cat with ear mites). 

Your cat may develop severe skin and ear infections if this parasite infection is left untreated. In cats with suspected ear infections, ear mites are frequently identified as the underlying cause. Ear mite infections in people are uncommon and are not generally regarded as a health risk. 

What causes ear mites in cats?

You might find yourself reading about ear mites and wonder how these parasites get into your cat's ears to wreak such havoc. Ear mites can easily spread between animals due to their contagiousness.  

While this parasite is most prevalent in cats, they are also found in dogs and other wild animals. Your cat can easily catch ear mites if they spend time in boarding facilities or outdoors, and interact with another animal or contaminated surface such as bedding or a grooming tool. 

Ear mites also often plague shelter cats, so be sure to have your newly adopted cat checked for ear mites and book a routine exam with your vet as soon as possible. 

Symptoms of Ear Mites 

The most common signs of ear mites in cats are:

  • Irritation or hair loss due to excessive scratching around the ears 
  • Dark, waxy, or crusty discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds 
  • Scratching at the ears 
  • Head shaking 
  • 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.

Additionally, your veterinarian will determine if any secondary infections are present as a result of the infestation and treat them as necessary. Your veterinarian will almost certainly recommend that you return in a week or two to ensure that the mites have been eliminated and that no further treatment is required.

Due to ear mites' contagious nature, your veterinarian will almost certainly prescribe medication for any other household pets to ensure the infestation does not spread.

It is not recommended to use home remedies for ear mites in cats. While some methods are effective against mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the mites' eggs. Thus, even if the mites appear to be gone, the infestation will resume when the eggs hatch.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

By scheduling an annual checkup and monthly ear cleaning with your veterinarian, you can help prevent ear mites from establishing a foothold. Establish a biweekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and house to minimize the risk of an infection occurring at your residence. Your veterinarian at Queens Animal Hospital 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.

Are you looking for more information about vaccinations and preventive healthcare for your cat? Contact our veterinary team in Queens to book an appointment.

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