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Ear Mites in Cats

While they are a common external parasite, ear mites are highly contagious. They can severely irritate both ears and skin in cats and dogs and lead to infections that cause excessive itching, scratching, and eventual health issues. They are more common in cats than dogs and are fairly easy to treat. Here, our Liberty Lake vets list symptoms, causes, and treatments for ear mites in cats. 

What are ear mites?

Ear mites (otodectes cynotis mites) are common arachnids found in cats. This highly contagious external parasite lives on the surface of the ear canal and, in rare cases, on the skin.

They're tiny, but if you have good vision, you might be able to see them as rapidly moving white spots. They have eight legs, with a noticeably smaller pair of hind legs (ear mites in cats images can be found using your favorite online search engine, and the thumbnail image for this post depicts a buildup of black wax inside the ear of a cat with ear mites).

They can irritate our feline companions considerably. Ear mites are relatively easy to treat, but if not treated, they can cause serious skin and ear infections. Ear mites are frequently the root cause of suspected ear infections in cats. Human ear mite infections are uncommon and not generally considered a health risk.

What causes of ear mites in cats?

You may become more knowledgeable about ear mites and wonder how these parasites get into your cat's ears and cause such misery. Some cat owners will ask their veterinarian, "What causes ear mites in cats?". Ear mites are extremely contagious and can easily spread from one infected animal to another. Cats are the most common host for ear mites, but they can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. Ear mites can be easily transmitted if your cat spends time in boarding facilities or outdoors and comes into contact with another animal or a contaminated surface, such as a grooming tool or bedding.

Shelter cats are also prone to ear mites, so check your newly adopted cat for them and schedule a routine exam with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Ear Mites

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

  • 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 
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at ears
  • 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.

Your veterinarian will also determine whether any secondary infections have developed as a result of the infestation and treat them accordingly. Your veterinarian will most likely recommend that you return in a week or two to ensure that the mites have vanished and that no additional treatment is required.

Because ear mites are contagious, your veterinarian will most likely recommend medication for any other household pets to keep the infestation from spreading.

It is not recommended to use homemade remedies for cat ear mites. While some methods are effective at killing mites, many at-home treatments do not eliminate the mites' eggs. So, while the mites appear to be gone, the infestation will return once the eggs hatch..

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

Ear mites can be prevented by scheduling a monthly checkup and ear cleaning with your veterinarian. To reduce the risk of an infection at home, set a bi-weekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and your house. Your cat's parasite prevention products can be recommended by your veterinarian at Legacy Animal Medical Center.

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. 

Do you suspect your cat may have ear mites? Contact our experienced Liberty Lake vets today to book an appointment.

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At Legacy Animal Medical Center, we are always accepting new patients! Our veterinary team's experience and passion make all the difference to the patients at our animal medical center in Liberty Lake. Contact us today to book your first appointment.

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