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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are a type of external parasite that commonly affects cats and dogs. They can cause irritation and itching. Our veterinarians in North Providence can help you treat and prevent ear mites in cats.

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are a common external parasite found in cats. They belong to the arachnid class of animals and are highly contagious. They can make their home in the ear canal and sometimes on the ear's surface as well.

Although tiny, you may be able to spot them as quickly-moving white spots. They are eight-legged creatures with a smaller set of thin legs. You can search for pictures of ear mites in cats on your preferred search engine for reference.

Ear mites cause significant irritation in cats, and if not treated early, they can lead to severe skin and ear infections. In many cases, when cats have ear infections, ear mites are often the underlying cause. However, ear mites very rarely infect humans and are not considered a risk to human health.

What causes ear mites in cats?

Your cat can get infected with ear mites if it comes into contact with another infected animal or a contaminated surface,  like grooming tools or bedding. It is important to check newly adopted cats for ear mites as they are common in shelter cats. Schedule a routine check-up with your vet to prevent and treat ear mite infections in your pets.

Symptoms of Ear Mites

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching at ears
  • Inflammation 
  • 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 

How does a vet diagnose ear mites in cats? 

When you take your cat to the vet, they will first use an otoscope to check the inside of the ear canal. Then they will take a sample of the ear debris and examine it under a microscope to determine if the problem is caused by bacteria, yeast, or ear mites. Regular check-ups can help your vet detect early signs of infection before they become serious issues. We also have an in-house laboratory that enables us to conduct tests and obtain results quickly and efficiently.

How do you treat ear mites in cats?

If you are a cat owner, you may be wondering how to get rid of ear mites in cats. Fortunately, the treatment is quite simple.

Once your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, your veterinarian will prescribe antiparasitic medication in either a topical or oral form. Your vet will also clean your cat's ears to remove the characteristic wax and discharge associated with these parasites and may prescribe a course of antibiotics based on the severity of your cat's specific case.

Your vet will also check for any secondary infections resulting from the infestation and treat them as necessary. Your vet will likely recommend that you return to the office in a week or two to ensure that the mites are gone and that further treatment is not required.

Your vet may prescribe medication for any other pets in the household to prevent the spread of ear mites.

We strongly advise against using home remedies for ear mites in cats. Although some methods can kill mites, many at-home treatments are not effective against mite eggs. Therefore, while it may appear that the mites have disappeared, the infestation will return when the eggs hatch.

How long does it take to get rid of ear mites in cats?

The life cycle of an ear mite takes about 21 days. Treatment should continue for at least three weeks to ensure that all the mite eggs have been eliminated. That's why your vet will recommend a follow-up visit to ensure that the infection has completely cleared up.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

It's essential to schedule regular checkups for your cat as the veterinarian will examine their ears during the checkup. This can help prevent serious ear mite infestations. 

Also, make sure to clean your cat's ears by using a clean cotton ball dipped in alcohol. Avoid using alcohol in your cat's ear canal. Instead, gently massage the base of your cat's ear for 20 to 30 seconds to distribute the solution. After that, hold the ear flap and use a cotton ball or gauze to remove any debris. 

Apart from cleaning their ears, it's also crucial to clean your cat's carrier, bedding, and home regularly to hill any stray mites. Your vet can recommend parasite-prevention products that will keep your feline companion healthy and happy.

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. 

Do you suspect your cat may have ear mites? Contact Ferguson Animal Hospital today to book an appointment.

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Ferguson Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of North Providence companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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