Ear mites can cause severe irritation to a dog's ears and skin. However, the good news is that they are relatively easy to treat. Our veterinarians in Tucson have compiled a comprehensive guide that covers the potential causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for ear mites in cats.

What are ear mites?

The medical term for ear mites is Otodectes cynotis mites. These contagious external parasites belong to the arachnid class of animals and usually live on the surface of the ear canal or the skin. Although ear mites are tiny, you can spot them as quickly moving white spots with good eyesight. They have eight legs and a smaller set of thin legs.

Ear mites can cause your pet a lot of discomfort, and if left untreated, they can lead to severe ear and skin infections. However, with proper treatment, they can be easily taken care of. It's important to catch them early to prevent any further complications.

Do ear mites affect people?

It is common for vets to attribute ear infections in cats to ear mites. However, it's important to note that humans are not at risk of contracting ear mites and are unlikely to be affected by them.

What causes ear mites in cats? 

As you learn more about ear mites, you may wonder, "What causes ear mites in cats?" How do these parasites get into a cat's ears and make them so miserable? How does the infection develop, and how are they transmitted from one animal to another?

Ear mites are highly contagious and can easily spread from one four-legged creature to another. Although they are most common in cats, they can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. If cats spend time in boarding environments or outdoors and come into close contact with other animals or contaminated surfaces like bedding or grooming tools, they are at risk of contracting ear mites.

Shelter cats also often contract ear mites, so 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

Some of the most common indications of ear mites in cats are:

  • 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 

How long does it take to get rid of ear mites?

Pet owners who have experienced ear mites in their cats may wonder how to get rid of them. Fortunately, treatment is straightforward. If your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, your vet will prescribe antiparasitic medication in either a topical or oral form. Your veterinarian may also remove any wax and discharge from your cat's ears associated with these parasites and prescribe antibiotics based on the severity of their case. 

After examining your pet, the vet will check for any additional infections caused by the infestation and provide treatment if necessary. They may recommend a follow-up appointment in one to two weeks to confirm that the mites have been eradicated and determine if further treatment is needed. 

As ear mites are contagious, the vet may also prescribe medication for other pets in the household to prevent the infestation from spreading. Home remedies for ear mites in cats are not recommended. Although some methods can eliminate the mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the eggs of these parasites. As a result, the infestation may reoccur when the eggs hatch.

Preventing Ear Mites in Cats

Frequently scheduling checkups and ear cleanings for your cat with your veterinarian is an effective way to prevent serious ear mite infestations. It is also important to regularly clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and your home to eliminate any stray mites. Your vet can also suggest parasite-prevention products to keep your feline companion safe and healthy.

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 Tucson vets to schedule an appointment.