How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Cats
Cats, like all other pets, have unique health challenges and requirements. Although you may be unfamiliar with cat ear mite infestations, this health condition can be a miserable experience for your pet and should be taken seriously.
Cats aren't the only type of pet prone to ear mite infestations, but these parasites are one of the most common health problems cats may develop in their ears. While ear mites on cats often aren't a serious health concern, if left untreated, ear mites on cats can pose a long-term health risk to your cats' ability to hear.
Here's an overview of ear mites, how to spot the signs of infestation, and how to get rid of these parasites and end your cats' suffering.
What Are Ear Mites in Cats?
As their name implies, ear mites are a small form of mite that lives in the ears of cats and other small animals, including dogs and rabbits. Ear mites are transmitted from other animals and breed quickly once they lay eggs, with newly hatched mites growing into adults in three weeks.
Although ear mites are, per their name, most often found in the ears, they may also be found on other parts of your cat's body.
What Causes Ear Mites on Cats?
Direct transmission from another animal is the only way your cat will contract ear mites. The mite will often go onto another part of your cat's body and migrate toward the ear canal to lay eggs.
Mite infestations only occur when a mite successfully moves to the ear and reproduces, resulting in a colony that starts to grow and continues reproducing in your cat's ear, causing severe discomfort.
Signs and Symptoms of Eat Mites in Cats
The best way to identify ear mites is through your cat's symptoms. Common symptoms of ear mites include:
- Frequent scratching of the ears and/or shaking of the heat;
- Dark discharge from the ear;
- Burst blood vessels and/or open wounds from your cat's scratching at its ears;
- Hair loss around the ear;
- Abnormal sensitivity when you attempt to touch your cats' ears.
What Do Ear Mites Look Like in Cats' Ears?
Unfortunately, ear mites are extremely small and may not even be visible to the naked eye. In some cases, mites will appear in the ear like speaks of fine dirt.
A large colony may make it look like your cats' ears are dirty, but cat owners may not recognize this as an infestation unless they've spotted other signs that suggest ear mites have infected your cat.
In most cases, owners will identify—or at least suspect—the presence of ear mites based on other signs and symptoms rather than visual confirmation.
How to Check for Ear Mites in Cats
Due to the size of these parasites, the best way to check for ear mites is by identifying the symptoms of an ear mite infestation. From there, you can visit your local vet to have your cat professionally examined for ear mites. Your local vet office can identify ear mites using an otoscope, a specialized diagnostic device with a flashlight to investigate the inside of your cat's ear.
Your vet can also check for mites and eggs by swapping your cat's ear with a cotton swab and then sending off that sample for examination under a microscope.
How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Cats
If your cat has ear mites, you'll need the help of your veterinarian to address the problem. Unlike other conditions your cat may develop, there's no effective home remedy for ear mites in cats that can kill mites quickly and with full confidence that these parasites won't bounce back in the coming weeks.
Unlike fleas and other parasites that may latch on to your pets, ear mite eggs can't be killed off with medication. As a result, treatment interventions are focused on killing adult mites and larvae after they're hatched. Your veterinarian may recommend one of several medications for treatment, including topical treatments and injections. The recommended cat ear mite treatment may depend on the infestation's severity and your personal preferences as the cat's owner.
If your cat has caused damage to its ears or is suffering from extreme discomfort, your vet may also recommend cat ear mite treatment to alleviate itching and pain while the mites are killed and your ears gradually heal.
When you notice your cat scratching its ears or have any other reason to suspect your cat may be dealing with ear mites, it's important to take your cat to a vet to have the problem diagnosed and promptly treated. A fast response will minimize untreated ear mites in cats suffering and even reduce the medical complications from this annoying infestation.