Ear mites are incredibly common external parasites that may cause serious irritation to the ears and surrounding skin of cats. Here, our Lebanon vets share some of the causes, symptoms and treatments for ear mites in our feline companions.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites, or otodectes cynotis mites, are a common external parasite found in cats. They live on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the surface of the skin.
Ear mites are incredibly contagious and may cause severe irritation in the ears and skin of your feline friend. Ear mites are pretty easy to treat, but if they are left for long, they may cause very serious infections in your cat's ears and skin. When cats are brought into the vet with complaints of infections in their ears, ear mites are often the culprits.
Causes of Ear Mites in Cats
Ear mites are hugely contagious and may spread between animals very easily. While these parasites are most prevalent in cats, they may also be found in dogs or in wild animals. If your cat spends time outside or in boarding facilities, they may easily pick up ear mites if another animal is infected or if there is a contaminated surface such as bedding or grooming tools where they are staying.
Mites are common in shelter cats. Be sure to check newly adopted cats for ear mites and bring them to your vet for a routine exam as soon as possible.
Symptoms of Ear Mites
The most common signs of ear mites in cats are:
- Scratching at ears
- Irritation or hair loss from excessive scratching around the ears
- A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds
How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats
Thankfully, when it comes to ear mites in our feline friends, treatment is straightforward. When your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, your vet will prescribe them with an anti-parasitic medication. These medications are both available in topical and oral forms. Your vet will also clean your cat's ears with a special cleaning solution.
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 cannot recommend that you use any kind of home remedy for ear mites. While there are some methods that can kill adult mites, many at-home treatments don't kill the eggs of the mites. So, while it may seem like the mites are gone, the infestation will arise again once the eggs hatch.
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.