Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

While ear mites are a fairly common external parasite, they are extremely contagious. They cause intense itching and scratching in cat's ears and skin. In this article, our Stanwood 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. 

You may be able to spot tiny white spots moving quickly if you have good eyesight. These spots have eight legs, with the hind legs being noticeably smaller. You can find pictures of ear mites in cats by searching online. The thumbnail image for this post shows black wax buildup in the ear of a cat with ear mites. Ear mites can cause severe irritation to our feline companions.

Although ear mites are relatively easy to treat, they can lead to severe ear and skin infections if left untreated. Often, when we see cats with suspected ear infections, the underlying cause is ear mites. Although human ear mite infections are rare, they are not generally considered a health risk.

What Causes of Ear Mites in Cats?

Have you ever wondered how ear mites find their way into your cat's ears and cause them so much discomfort? Many cat owners eventually ask their veterinarian, "What causes ear mites in cats?" These parasites are highly contagious and can easily spread from one infected animal to another. Although they are most common in cats, ear mites can also be found in dogs and other wild animals. If your cat spends time in boarding facilities or outdoors and comes into contact with another animal or a contaminated surface, such as a grooming tool or bedding, ear mites can quickly spread.

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

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

  • 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

If you're a pet owner dealing with ear mites in your furry friend, you may have searched for ways to get rid of them. Luckily, treating ear mites in cats is straightforward. Your vet will diagnose your cat and prescribe an anti-parasitic medication in either oral or topical form. They may also clean your cat's ears with a solution and prescribe antibiotics if the infection is severe.

Additionally, your veterinarian will determine if any secondary infections are present as a result of the infestation and treat them as necessary. Your veterinarian will almost certainly recommend that you return in a week or two to ensure that the mites have been eliminated and that no further treatment is required.

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 causing problems, scheduling a checkup and ear cleaning with your veterinarian once a month is a good idea. Additionally, you can establish a biweekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and house to minimize the risk of infection at your home. Don't hesitate to ask your veterinarian at Northwest Veterinary Clinic of Stanwood for recommendations on 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 experienced Stanwood vets today to book an appointment.