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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are parasites that are relatively easy to treat in dogs, however, they can still cause a great deal of irritation and damage. In this post, our White Hall vets share the causes, treatment, and prevention methods of ear mites in cats that owners should be aware of.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are an external parasite part of the arachnid class, and they make their home and get their nutrients from the ear canals and skin surfaces of mammals, commonly including domestic cats.

While ear mites are tiny, you may notice them as quickly moving white spots if you have good eyesight. They are eight-legged creatures, with a smaller set of thin legs.

Though ear mites are relatively easy to treat, they can cause significant irritation to your pet, leading to severe skin and ear infections if they aren't caught early.

When our vets diagnose cats with ear infections, ear mites are often the underlying cause. Humans rarely become infected with ear mites; they are generally not considered a health risk for people. 

Causes of Ear Mites 

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?

Because they are highly contagious, ear mites can spread easily from one four-legged creature to another. They are most common in cats, but ear mites can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. Cats who spend time in boarding environments or outdoors are at risk if they get too close to another animal or touch a contaminated surface such as bedding or grooming tools. 

Shelter cats also often contract ear mites, so make sure to 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

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

  • Inflammation 
  • 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 
  • Scratching at ears
  • Head shaking 

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your feline friend, contact the vet right away.

Treating Ear Mites in Cats

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

If your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, your vet will provide antiparasitic medication in either a topical or oral form. Your veterinarian will also likely clear your cat's ears out of the characteristic wax and discharge associated with these parasites and prescribe a course of antibiotics depending on how severe your cat's specific case is. 

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. 

Preventing Ear Mites in Cats

On top of consistent routine exams, getting your cat's ears professionally cleaned is a good method of preventing ear mites.

You can clean your cat's ears at home using vet-approved methods and gentle water solutions. If you'd like them to have a more thorough cleaning, consult your groomer or veterinarian about it next time you bring your kitty in!

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.

If your kitty is exhibiting signs of ear mites, contact our White Hall veterinarians today to book a physical exam!

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