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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are common external parasites that are highly contagious. They can cause severe itching and scratching in cats' ears and skin, leading to infections and other health issues. Ear mites are more common in cats than in dogs, but they are relatively easy to treat. Our veterinarians in Madison discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of mites in cats in this section.

Ear Mites 

Ear mites (otodectes cynotis mites) are commonly found in cats and belong to the arachnid class of animals. This highly contagious external parasite resides on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the skin's surface. They are very small, but if you have excellent eyesight, you might be able to see them as white spots that move quickly. They have eight legs, with the pair of hind legs noticeably shorter than the other pair. They can cause our feline companions significant irritation.

They have the potential to cause our feline companions a great deal of irritation. Ear mites aren't particularly difficult to treat, but if left unchecked, they can lead to serious skin and ear infections. We often find that ear mites are the underlying cause of ear infections in cats that we initially thought had ear infections. Infections caused by ear mites in humans are extremely rare and are not considered to pose a significant health risk.

What Causes Ear Mites in Cats?

Ear mites, being tiny parasites, can easily spread from one infected animal to another, causing misery for cats. They are most common in cats but can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. Cats that spend time in boarding facilities or outdoors, as well as those living in shelters, are at higher risk of acquiring ear mites. It's important to check newly adopted cats for ear mites and schedule a routine exam with a 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

If your furry friend has ear mites, you might be searching for ways to get rid of them. Fortunately, treating ear mites in cats is relatively simple. Your vet will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication, which can be in oral or topical form. They may also clean your cat's ears with a special solution and prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe.

Your vet will check for any secondary infections and treat them if necessary. You'll likely need to return for a follow-up to ensure the mites are gone and that no further treatment is needed. Since ear mites are contagious, your vet may recommend treating other pets in your home to prevent the infestation from spreading.

It's important not to use home remedies for ear mites in cats. While some may work against the mites, many at-home treatments don't kill the mites' eggs. This means the infestation will come back when the eggs hatch, even if the mites seem to be gone.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

Remember to schedule a monthly checkup and ear cleaning with your veterinarian to prevent ear mites. Also, set a biweekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and living space to reduce the risk of infection in your home. Your veterinarian at Best Friends 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 people or pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Seeking more information about vaccinations and preventive healthcare for your cat? Contact our Madison vets today to book an appointment.

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Best Friends Animal Hospital is always accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary team is passionate about the health and comfort of companion animals. Get in touch today to learn about the difference our expertise makes.

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