How to Detect and Treat Ear Mites in Cats
7 July, 2015
Ear mites in cats are very common and can be treated and detected upon onset. Ear mites are microscopic parasites which can infect the ears of a cat. They like to live in the warm, dark environment of the cat’s ear canal where they feed on skin debris. The mites create irritation and itchiness, which cause the cat to scratch its ears which can then cause problems such as skin infections or a swollen ear flap, which need veterinary attention.
Catching and treating ear mites quickly can avoid problems later and ensure a healthy, happy cat. Below are the most common symptoms of ear mites in your cat:
1. Excessive scratching of the ears
2. Fresh or dried blood inside of the ear canal which may resemble coffee grounds.
3. Small white or black dots which are the actual mites.
4. Excessive shaking of the head
5. Dizziness and loss of balance
6. Flattened ears and/or unpleasant odor
Look out for excess wax in your cat’s ears
Ear mites cause the lining of the ear canal to produce excessive amounts of wax. This wax is typically a dark brown/ black color, and can sometimes look like waxy dirt in the ear. A cat with healthy ears will have minimal earwax. If you see something that looks like coffee grounds or flecks of black dirt in the ear, this is a sign of a possible ear health problem.
The cat’s ear produces this wax as a defense against the impact of the infestation. You can sometimes also detect a foul smell coming from your cat’s ear.
If you suspect your cat has ear mites, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately
Ear mites are not just found in cat’s ears but this yucky parasite can travel all over the cat’s body. Without treatment, your cat’s ear mite infestation can spread to other cats or dogs in your home. All family pets have to be treated if mites are found on just one animal. That’s why a trip to your veterinarian should be scheduled if you suspect ear mites.
Ear mites are extremely tiny and not always visible to the naked eye, so a vet will have to examine your cat’s ears with a special instrument known as an otoscope. A secondary infection can result if the ear mite infestation is not treated. The sooner you bring your cat to the vet, the better.
Treatment and prevention of ear mites
First you must treat the ears. Clean your cat’s ears, then apply ear mite drops to the ear canal for seven days. Ear mite medications are safe and can even be applied to kittens. Your vet will probably begin the treatment after diagnosis and then have you continue applying the drops from home over the next week.
Because mites can be located outside the ear area, the entire body of the cat should also be treated. Your cat should be bathed with an anti-parasite shampoo. These products are available everywhere – pet stores, on-line or from your vet.
One of the most effective treatments for ear mites in your cat is prevention. There are different topical solutions on the market that your vet can recommend which prevent ear mites. If you apply an ointment to your cat’s ears’ monthly, it is unlikely that he or she will ever get ear mites.
The duration of ear mites in your cats
The ear mite life cycle from eggs to adult takes about 21 days. From the time your cat becomes infected to the time the ear mites reach maturity, your cat might be infested with hundreds or thousands of mites. But, again, this can be treated.
Make sure to check all your pets for ear mites
If you have more than one pet and suspect one of them has ear mites, check all their ears. Ear mites spread easily between animals if they sleep together or groom each other. If you only treat the affected animal, it might be that other pets harbor the parasite but don’t show signs, and can act as a reservoir for re-infection.
If one pet has ear mites, it is more than likely that you will need to treat all the pets in the house to get rid of the infection.
If you check your pets’ ears regularly and make sure they are clean, you are likely to beat ear mites before they get to your cat.