Ear mites are a common external parasite that can cause severe irritation to the ears and surrounding skin in both cats and dogs, although they are more common in cats. Today our O’Fallon vets share the symptoms, causes, and treatments available for ear mites. 

What are ear mites?

Ear mites, or otodectes cynotis mites, are a common external parasite found in cats. They live on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the surface of the skin. 

Ear mites are highly contagious and can cause severe itchiness in your feline companions. Ear mites are relatively simple to treat, but if left untreated, they can cause serious ear and skin infections. Ear mites are frequently the culprit when cats are brought to the vet with complaints of ear infections.

What causes ear mites in cats

Ear mites are highly contagious and can easily spread from one infected animal to another. Although most prevalent in cats, ear mites can be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time outside or in boarding facilities they could easily pick up ear mites from getting too close to another animal or by touching contaminated surfaces like bedding or grooming tools. 

Mites are common in shelter cats. Be sure to check newly adopted cats for ear mites and bring them to your vet for a routine exam as soon as possible. 

Symptoms of Ear Mites

The most common signs of ear mites in cats are:

  • Head-shaking
  • Scratching at ears
  • A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation or hair loss from excessive scratching around the ears 
  • Pus

You can also google "pictures of ear mites in cats" to see if your cat's ear matches what you see.

How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats

Thankfully, when it comes to how to get rid of ear mites in cats, the treatment is pretty straightforward. If your cat is diagnosed with ear mites your vet will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication. Medications are available in topical or oral form. Your veterinarian may also clean your cat’s ears with an appropriate cleaning solution.

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. 

Home treatments for ear mites in cats are not advisable. While some methods can kill mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the eggs of the mites. So while the mites may be gone, the infestation will start again when the eggs hatch. 

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.

Do you suspect your cat is suffering from ear mites? Contact Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital today to book an appointment and have your pet treated by our qualified O’Fallon vets.