If you are a pet owner, it is probably that you are already aware that your cat can get ear mites. For most people, this is something that they might not necessarily be that concerned about because it only happens on only a very few cats. In the case of kittens and cats under a year old, there is a 90% chance that they will develop them. So, how do cats get ear mites?
There are several causes of ear mites in cats. One of the most common causes is the presence of a fungus or bacteria on the cat’s ear. Cats who constantly scratch the ears can develop an infection. Cats who constantly have hair hanging out the back of their ears are also at risk for developing ear mites. But, there are other causes as well.
What Are Ear Mites?
According to the VCA, Ear mites are surface mites that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. Mites are usually found in the ear canal but can also live on the skins surface. Ear mites are highly contagious, and animals become infested by direct contact with another infested animal. The mite is very hard to see with the naked eye due to their small size, however if you look closely you might see a white speck moving against a dark background.
Unfortunate ear mites don’t die off as quickly as some other bugs. In fact, it takes about 3 weeks for a mite to develop from an egg to an adult in which they go through a total of 5 stages. An adult ear mite can live for about 2 months and during this time they continually reproduce. If left untreated, a small ear mite problem can really multiply and get out of hand quickly.
How are Ear Mites Treated?
Getting rid of ear mites isn’t difficult, however It’s important to follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions without missing steps. Once a cat has been properly diagnosed with ear mites, treatment generally begins with a thorough cleaning of the ears. This is needed to remove any wax or debris that may shield the ear mites from topical medications that are applied directly in the ear and the areas around it. These topical medications are typically prescribed for a period of 2 to 3 weeks and work in a way very similar to that of lice shampoo in humans to eliminate ear mites.
When cats have ear mites, It’s common to have a higher risk of infection. Because of this, veterinarians often prescribe ear drops along with a treatment of antibiotics to help relieve any infection that may be present. The treatment of infection usually only lasts 1 month, but it’s important to schedule follow up visits with your veterinarian. The last thing you’ll want is those pesky ear mites coming back
It’s also very important to remember that ear mites are very contagious. Because of this, all of your animals inside your household should be checked, and if needed, treated for ear mites. Luckily ear mites in animals are not a risk to humans, but it’s important to keep other animals away from the infected cat as much as possible.
How Your Cat Probably Got Ear Mites
Cats love getting into trouble, every cat owner knows that. But I’m sure the last thing you would expect is for your cat to come home with ear mites. But exactly how did that happen?
As we said before, ear mites are quite contagious and there are a variety of ways that you cat could have gotten them. Ear mites can easy transfer from an infected cats ears to another cats ears when they are close to each other. This is probably the most likely cause for your cats ear mites. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to catching ear mites due to the fact that they are more likely to interact with more cats.
Indoor cats can also get ear mites from toys, bedding, and other infected cats. Kittens are very vulnerable to getting ear mites as well as shelter cats. It’s always a good idea to make sure that a cat is free of ear mites before you bring your new best friend home.
Cat Ear Mite Symptoms
Ear mites are very small, so seeing these foul bugs are is not an easy task. And unfortunately your cat isn’t going to be able to be like “hey Sarah my ears itch”. So it’s important to know some of the symptoms and signs that your cat might have ear mites. Some of these signs of ear mites are head shaking and constant scratching. Here are are a few more of the most common ear mite symptoms you should be on the lookout for.
- Scratching at their ears
- Shaking their head
- Dark, dry discharge from the affected ear
- Red, inflamed appearance of ears
- Scratch marks on the pinna (outer ear)
- Skin lesions around the ear
Infestations are a quite common problem in puppies and kittens, although pets of any age can be affected. Common signs of infestation vary in severity from one pet to another, and may include combinations of the following:
- Ear irritation, leading to scratching at the ears or head shaking.
- A dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear.
- Areas of hair loss resulting from self-trauma caused by the dog’s scratching or excessive grooming.
- A crusted rash around or in the ear.
- An aural hematoma (a large blood blister on the ear, caused by rupture of small blood vessels between the skin and cartilage); this occurs due to the dog scratching at their ears.
Cat Ear Mite Prevention
This may not be surprising, but regular checkups and good hygiene are the 2 best ways to prevent your cat from getting ear mites. It may also be a good idea to keep your cats bedding and toys clean along with checking your cats ears on a regular basis. If your cat is frequently playing with other cats, It’s a good idea to check their ears more often.
Deworming your cat on a regular basis is also recommended, especially if your cat likes to take long trips outdoors. Above all, stay vigilant and keep a lookout for signs that you cat might have the dreaded ear mites.
Has your cat ever had ear mites before? If so how did you treat it? What were the signs that told you your cat might have them? Let us know in the comments below and as always feel free to checkout our other cat article.