Fleas and ticks bother our pets, but they're not the only pests that can make a cat uncomfortable. Another one is a tiny parasite called the ear mite, which enjoys the oils and wax found inside a cat's ear. So how do cats get ear mites? Cats can catch ear mites from being outdoors or from interacting with other cats. They are most common in kittens, younger cats, strays and outdoor cats. Although ear mites don't seem dangerous, their presence and bites can be extremely harmful to your cat.
What are the symptoms of ear mites in cats?
Be on the look-out for these symptoms:
- frequent scratching of the ears, causing scabbing or inflammation
- frequent head shaking
- swollen ears
- ears oozing a greasy, black substance
- a strong odor coming from the ears
If left unchecked and untreated, ear mites can lead to serious issues, including deafness, coordination and balance issues and permanent ear scarring. Ear mites always cause an ear infection as well, so treatment isn't just about getting rid of the mites. The ear infection has to be treated, too.
What do ear mites in a cat look like?
Ear mites in cats are tiny, so seeing one on its own is difficult. Instead, look for a brown to black, crumbly substance that resembles dirt or coffee grounds. If you have difficulty seeing inside your cat's ears and suspect mites, your veterinarian can use their otoscope to see inside or take a swab of the ear and examine the sample under a microscope.
How do you get rid of ear mites in cats?
You'll definitely want to make a vet appointment to make sure that what's being treated are ear mites. The first step in getting rid of ear mites in cats is to thoroughly cleanse the ear canal, removing wax and any other build up. Use an ear cleaner, or better yet, have your veterinarian clean out the cat's ears to avoid causing any damage to the ear canal.
An ear mite treatment for cats involves a topical solution prescribed by your veterinarian. Since ear mites in cats are highly contagious, you should also treat any other cats or dogs in the home.
Ear mites are an annoyance for both cats and their owners, but early treatment will help prevent further damage to their ears and their overall health.