Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are highly contagious and can cause severe itchiness and scratching in cats. Ear mites are more prevalent in cats than dogs and are relatively straightforward to treat. In this section, our Vancouver veterinarians discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of ear mites in cats.

Ear Mites 

Ear mites (otodectes cynotis mites) are commonly found in cats and are part of the arachnid class of animals. This extremely contagious external parasite makes its home on the surface of the ear canal and sometimes on the skin's surface. 

Although they are small, those with good eyesight may notice them as quickly moving white spots. With eight legs, ear mites in cats have a noticeably smaller pair of hind legs. By using your favorite online search engine, pictures of ear mites in cats can be easily found. The thumbnail image for this post shows a buildup of black wax inside a cat's ear with ear mites.

These tiny mites can severely irritate our feline companions. While ear mites are relatively easy to treat, they can cause severe skin and ear infections if left untreated. Ear mites frequently cause suspected ear infections in cats. Human ear mite infections are uncommon and pose no significant health risk.

What Causes of Ear Mites in Cats?

As a concerned cat owner, you may find information about ear mites and wonder how they can cause discomfort to your furry friend. Eventually, you may ask your veterinarian, "What causes ear mites in cats?" These pesky parasites are highly contagious and can easily spread from one infected animal to another.

Although cats are most commonly affected, ear mites can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. Your cat can easily contract ear mites if they spend time in boarding facilities, outdoors, or come into contact with other animals or contaminated surfaces such as grooming tools or bedding.

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

Some indications that a cat may have ear mites are:

  • 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 

How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats

Pet owners who have dealt with ear mites in their cats may have searched for solutions online. Fortunately, treating ear mites in cats is straightforward. When a vet diagnoses an anti-parasitic medication, available in oral or topical form, it will be prescribed. The veterinarian may also clean the cat's ears with a specialized solution and prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe.

Additionally, the vet will check for any secondary infections and treat them accordingly. A follow-up appointment will be recommended to ensure the mites are eliminated, and no further treatment is necessary.

Due to ear mites' contagious nature, your veterinarian will almost certainly prescribe medication for any other household pets to ensure the infestation does not spread.

It is not recommended to use home remedies for ear mites in cats. While some methods are effective against mites, many at-home treatments do not kill the mites' eggs. Thus, even if the mites appear to be gone, the infestation will resume when the eggs hatch.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

To prevent ear mites from infesting your cat, it's advisable to schedule a monthly checkup and ear cleaning with your vet. Additionally, to reduce the risk of infection at your home, set a biweekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and living area. You can also consult with a veterinarian at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital for recommended parasite-prevention products for your cat.

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 dog? Contact our vets in Vancouver today to book an appointment.