Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites, a prevalent external parasite, spread easily among animals. They provoke irritation in the ears and skin of dogs and cats, resulting in discomfort, itching, scratching, and potential health complications. Cats are more susceptible to these parasites than dogs. Fortunately, treating them is generally straightforward. In this article, our Sharpsburg vets explain the causes and ways to prevent ear mites in cats.

Ear Mites 

Ear mites are an extremely contagious external parasite. They live on the skin of cats and in their ear canal.

Ear mites have eight legs and a smaller pair of appendages. These tiny parasites cause significant irritation in our feline friends and, while ear mites are quite easy to treat, they can lead to severe skin and ear infections if they aren't caught early. When we see cats with ear infections, ear mites are often the underlying cause. Ear mites very rarely infect humans and are generally not considered a risk to the health of people. If you are looking to see a photo of what these creatures look like, try searching for ear mites in cats pictures on your local search engine. 

What Causes Ear Mites in Cats

You may read about ear mites and wonder about how these parasites make their way into your pet's ears in order to make them so miserable. 

Ear mites can transfer from one infected animal to another. Although prevalent in cats, they can also affect dogs and other wildlife. If your cat frequents boarding facilities or outdoor environments and comes into contact with other animals or contaminated surfaces like grooming tools or bedding, ear mites can be easily transmitted.

Shelter cats also commonly contract ear mites, so be sure to check your newly adopted cat for ear mites and schedule a routine exam with your vet 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 
  • Pus 
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at ears
  • Inflammation 

How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats

Many pet owners who have dealt with ear mites in their furry friends have surely wondered how to get rid of ear mites in cats. Thankfully, for ear mites in cats, treatment is relatively straightforward. 

Upon diagnosis of ear mites in your cat, your veterinarian will administer antiparasitic medication in topical or oral forms. Additionally, they will likely cleanse your cat's ears to remove the characteristic wax and discharge linked with these parasites. Depending on the severity of your cat's case, your vet may also prescribe a course of antibiotics.

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 do not advise using home remedies for ear mites in cats. While some methods are capable of killing mites, many at-home treatments don't kill the eggs of these parasites. So, while it appears that the mites are gone. The infestation will begin again when the eggs hatch.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

Regularly scheduling checkups and ear cleanings for your cat with your veterinarian is a reliable method for preventing more severe infestations of ear mites. Similarly, ensure thorough cleaning of your cat's kennel, bedding, and your home to eliminate any lingering mites. Additionally, your vet can offer recommendations for parasite prevention products tailored to your feline companion's needs.

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. 

If your cat has been repeatedly scratching and you think they may have ear mites, contact East Coweta Veterinary Hospital today to book an appointment.