Have you ever noticed that your feline friend is behaving unusually than on normal days? Is she shaking her head frequently or scratching at her ears a lot? If yes, then your cat probably has ear mites that create irritation and itching and causes her to scratch its ears. Not only mites can give deep wounds to your cat due to excessive scratching, but in the worst cases, they can also lead to deafness.
So, what are ear mites? How do cats get ear mites? What are its symptoms? How to cure and prevent them? Well, this guide contains answers to all these questions. Without wasting much time, let’s get started.
What are ear mites?
While ear problems and infections are uncommon in cats, ear mites are the main problems. In medical terms, ear mites are known as Otodectes cynotis mites; it is a common parasite that can be found in cats, dogs as well as humans. The mites are infectious organisms that look like tiny white dots and usually live inside the pet’s ear canal. They are so small in size that one needs a microscope to see them clearly. They feed on skin debris, cell fluids, and blood.
They can lead to discomfort and result in complications and intense irritation, especially if your cat is super sensitive to them. Hence, diagnosing mites and knowing how to treat them is crucial for the well-being of your feline friend.
How to detect ear mites?
While ear mites are not fatal, they could cause discomfort and create itchiness, which causes the cat to scratch its ears. Hence, if your cat is itching its ears with paws or shaking its heads excessively, then it is a sign that she has ear mites. The ears of your cat’s ears will turn red and inflamed along with blackish discharge stuck in the inner parts of your ear canal. Sometimes, there may be a foul smell.
However, sometimes irritation in a cat’s ear can also be due to other allergies. So, it is vital to know the real cause and get your pet to the vet for a proper diagnosis. The vet will confirm the presence of ear mites using a microscope and prescribe the medicine according to the severity of the case. Sometimes many pet owners are unaware that their pet is suffering from bacterial or yeast ear infections and try to remove ear wax on their own, but it can make the condition worse.
Different types of parasites that can affect your pet
There are different types of parasites that can be found in different parts of your pet’s body. It includes ear mites, fleas, and ticks. However, one must remember, ear mites and fleas are different from each other, and both of them are present in different areas of a cat’s body. For instance, fleas are present in the cat’s body, and they survive on the blood of your kitty. It can lead to anemia in your cat. But ear mites are present in the cat’s ear canal, and they cause excessive itching in the ears and lead to inflammation. Another pestering parasite that can be found in cats is ticks. It is a myth that ticks do not affect cats; while it is more predominant in dogs than cats, cats can still be affected by it.
The table given below will help you understand the difference between the three in more detail.
|Parasites in a cat’s ear
|Parasites in a cat’s body
|Parasites in a cat’s body. Mostly found around the neck, ears, feet, and legs.
|It causes itching and inflammation
|It causes anemia
|It causes tick-borne diseases such as anemia.
|Curable with ear drops or on-spot treatment
|Curable with sprays. It requires deworming.
|Curable with a bath with tick prevention shampoo, sprays, medications, etc.
|Requires veterinary assistance
|Veterinary assistance is required if the fleas are severe. Or else, you can deworm your kitten, and it should be fine.
|Veterinary assistance is not required if bathing and sprays work.
What are the symptoms of ear mites?
- Itching the ears with paws
- Excessive scratching at ears and around the head
- Shaking the head excessively
- Thick brownish discharge formed in the outer areas of your cat’s ears
- Blackish bumps in the outer area of the ear canal
- Scratches on the backside of the ears due to excessive itching
- Inflamed and red ears
While these symptoms are prevalent from the onset of ear mites, the symptoms increase over time. If left untreated, they can lead to serious issues, such as permanent ear scarring, deafness, wounds, etc. They can create a serious infection. Hence, it is crucial to treat ear mites and take preventive measures in the future.
When should you visit your vet?
If you see your cat excessively itching her ears, you should visit the vet immediately. No matter the severity of the symptoms, a visit to the vet will only relieve your cat from further discomfort. Once you visit the vet, your vet will do a complete physical examination of your cat. It includes blood tests and the health history of your cat. Your vet will first use an otoscope (a medical device used to check inside the ears) to examine the mites. But if your cat is sensitive and won’t allow the vet near her, then your vet will try taking a sample with the help of a cotton swab and examine it.
Most vets offer on-the-spot treatment for your kitty. If you do not opt for that, then there are ear drops as well and other topical medicines, which take 14-21 days to work.
How to cure ear mites?
While going to the vet is always advisable, you can also opt for these immediate remedies to cure mites:
- Try to clean as many critters as possible from your cat’s ear canal. It will help you to get rid of the easily accessible one. This process also includes cleaning the black discharge in your cat’s ears.
- Put an ear cleaning solution in your cat’s ears and massage gently to get the mites out as much as possible. Then clean with earbuds.
- After cleaning, administer any insecticide that has pyrethrin in it. It will help remove other insects. However, consult with your vet before following this remedy.
- The final step is to avoid your cat from getting re-infected. Don’t allow your cat to mingle with outdoor cats or any other infected cats or dogs as this infection spreads easily.
1. How do pets get ear mites?
Ear mites can’t hop or fly, but they can crawl. Hence, they can move between animals through close physical contact
2. Are ear mites contagious to other pets?
Yes. If you have other pets such as dogs and other cats, they have a higher chance of getting ear mites as well. So, the faster you take your cat to the vet, the faster your other pets won’t be affected by it.
3. Can pet owners get ear mites from pets?
If you have a fear that whether you can get ear mites from your cats or not, then the answer is no. But there have been reported cases of skin rashes, which are extremely rare.
Ear mites are annoying not just for your cat but for you as well. You love your cat, and you would not want your cat to suffer or go through discomfort. So, it should be your priority to get your cat rid of those pestering critters, and ear mites. Though you could take a cotton earbud and take a little discharge out to confirm whether your cat has ear mites or not, it is always wise to take your pet to the vet and get it checked by a professional. Your vet will either recommend immediate treatment or give you ear drops according to the severity of the case.