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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are a type of external parasite that can cause severe itchiness and scratching in cats' ears and skin. They are highly contagious and can lead to infection and other health problems if left untreated. Although they are more common in cats than dogs, they are generally easy to treat. In this blog post, our veterinarians in Los Angeles County will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for ear mites in cats.

Ear Mites 

Ear mites, also known as Otodectes cynotis mites, are common external parasites found in cats. These tiny mites, highly contagious and belonging to the arachnid class of animals, usually make their home on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the skin's surface. Although they are small, they can be easily spotted as white spots and move quickly if you have good eyesight.

Ear mites have eight legs, with the hind legs being noticeably smaller. You can find pictures of ear mites in cats using your favorite online search engine. The thumbnail image for this post shows a buildup of black wax inside a cat's ear with ear mites.

Ear mites can cause severe irritation to our feline companions. Although they are relatively easy to treat, they can cause severe skin and ear infections if left untreated. In many cases, cats with suspected ear infections are found to have ear mites. While human ear mite infections are rare, they are not generally considered a health risk.

What causes ear mites in cats?

Ear mites are a common cause of discomfort in cats, and it's natural to wonder how they get into your cat's ears and what causes them. These parasites are highly contagious and can spread easily from one animal to another.

While cats are the most commonly affected, ear mites are also found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time outdoors, in boarding facilities, or comes into contact with infected animals, they are at risk of contracting ear mites.

It's also common for shelter cats to have ear mites, so check your newly adopted cat 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 
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at ears
  • Pus 
  • Inflammation 

Do ear mites affect people?

It is unlikely that humans will suffer from the long-term effects of ear mites, as these mites cannot survive for long on the human body. Although there have been a few reported cases of pet owners developing a rash due to mites, such occurrences are uncommon. However, ear mites are highly contagious between pets and can easily be transmitted from one pet to another.

How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats

If you are a pet owner who has faced ear mites in your cat, you may wonder how to get rid of them. Fortunately, treating ear mites in cats is relatively easy and straightforward. When your veterinarian diagnoses the ear mites, they will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication, which may come in either oral or topical form. They may also use a cleaning solution to clean your cat's ears and prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe.

Additionally, your veterinarian will examine your cat for possible secondary infections that may have occurred due to the infestation and provide the necessary treatment. It is advisable to return to the veterinarian after a week or two to ensure that the mites are gone and there is no further need for treatment.

Ear mites are highly contagious, so your vet will likely prescribe medication for all other pets living with you to prevent the infestation from spreading. It is not recommended to use home remedies for ear mites in cats as most of them do not kill the mites' eggs, which may lead to a resumption of the infestation once the eggs hatch.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

We recommend scheduling a monthly checkup and ear cleaning with your veterinarian to prevent ear mites from establishing themselves in your cat's ears. Additionally, cleaning your cat's kennel, bedding, and house at least twice a week is important to avoid infections at your residence. You can also get parasite-prevention product recommendations for your cat from your veterinarian at Animal Hospital of Redondo Beach. 

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. 

Are you seeking more information about vaccinations and preventive healthcare for your cat? Contact our experienced Los Angeles County vets today to book an appointment.

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