Ear Mites in Cats How You Know and What To Do

About Lorie Huston, DVM

Lorie Huston is an accomplished veterinarian, an award winning blogger, a talented author and a certified veterinary journalist. She is available for writing assignments, blogging and social media consultation, and SEO strategy.

– See more at: http://www.pet-health-care-gazette.com/#sthash.EHDBEnJm.dpuf

About Lorie Huston, DVM

Lorie Huston is an accomplished veterinarian, an award winning blogger, a talented author and a certified veterinary journalist. She is available for writing assignments, blogging and social media consultation, and SEO strategy.

– See more at: http://www.pet-health-care-gazette.com/#sthash.EHDBEnJm.dpu

Annie at home

Sweet Annie!

Dr. Lorie Huston Talks To Us About Ear Mites in Cats

While getting treatment for Annie’s ear mites from our local veterinarians, I wondered if you might be curious about what to look for and what to do if your cat becomes infected with these troublesome parasites. This is the first time we have experienced ear mites in cats so  I thought you might be interested in learning more about these little bugs too.

I asked our good friend and veterinarian, Dr. Lorie Huston if she would like to guest post on The Tiniest Tiger’s Conservation Cub Club. Dr. Lorie is an accomplished veterinarian, an award winning blogger, a talented author and a veterinarian journalist.  She also shares her home with her much loved cats.

Dr. Lorie was gracious enough to help us all learn more about these little bugs that can cause our cats so much grief.

Ear Mites in Cats

 I am honored to be asked to talk to The Tiniest Tiger’s readers about ear mites in cats. But first, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Eddie and Annie to their new home. We’ll all miss Gracey, her human mom and dad most of all. But I’m so happy that these wonderful people have opened their home to Eddie and Annie. I know these two orphans will be well cared for and cherished for a long time to come.

Now, onto the juicy stuff…

So, let’s talk a bit about ear mites, what they are, how to tell if your cat has them, and how they can be treated.

What Are Ear Mites?

Ear mites are parasites. Technically known as Otodectes cynotis, they are tiny eight-legged bugs that live inside of your cat’s ear canals and on the skin and fur surrounding the ears. They are contagious and are easily passed from one cat to another. Typically, they are found in both ears when a cat is infected with these parasites. They can infect cats of any age but are commonly seen in kittens and in cats that live at least part of their lives outdoors. Ear mites can also infect dogs but they do not seem to be as common in dogs as in cats. In cats, ear mites are the most common cause of ear disease.

What Are the Symptoms?

 Ear mites most frequently cause the following symptoms:

  • Your cat may scratch excessively at his ears, face, and neck.
  • Your cat may shake his head frequently.
  • You may see scabs and hair loss around the ears.
  • You will see a black discharge in the ear canals that looks like coffee grounds. In severe cases, this discharge may completely fill the ear canal.

In some cases, ear mites can be responsible for causing an aural, or ear, hematoma. This is essentially a swelling of the flap of the ear. The swelling is actually a pocket of blood trapped within the flap of the ear. This results from rupture of the blood vessels in the ear and is due to the trauma of scratching the ears and shaking of the head. Surgery is often required to treat this complication if it occurs.

How Are Ear Mites Diagnosed?

 The diagnosis of ear mites is usually pretty straight forward based on the symptoms and appearance of the characteristic black discharge within the ear canals. However, yeast infections and other ear diseases can cause similar symptoms. So it is best to consult with your veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis before beginning treatment for your cat.

Your veterinarian will examine your cat’s ears with an otoscope (a special device that allows a visual examination of the depths of the ear canal). In some cases, your veterinarian may collect a sample of the ear debris for microscopic examination, looking for the mites in the debris.

What Is the Best Treatment for Ear Mites?

 There are several different treatments that are successful for eradicating ear mites. Some of the monthly topical flea preparations, such as Revolution and Advantage Multi for Cats are quite effective in killing the ear mites. These products are applied to your cat’s skin. There is also a topical preparation that contains ivermectin called Acarexx that is applied directly to the ear canals.

Your cat’s ears may also need to be cleaned to remove the debris and discharge from the ear canals. In addition, your veterinarian may dispense ear medications to reduce irritation inside the ear and/or antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections. Follow any directions from your veterinarian carefully.

Thank you to Dr. Lorie for chatting with us about ear mites.

Remember that all cats need to visit their veterinarian.

Each cat is an individual and unique requiring a one on one consultation with a veterinarian when any health concerns arise.

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  1. It’s been so long since I had a cat that had ear mites that I forgot about them. Always good to have a remember as I noticed there are new treatments from your post. I was only told about drops way back when. I never realized they could get so bad too. Hopefully we never have any. Thank you for the post.
    Sue B

  2. My Claude has had ear mites, which is odd, because he’s an indoor cat, but who knows. It was exactly as Dr. Lorie said – coffee grounds. YUCK! I had to put drops in once or twice a day and rub it around inside his ear – which he rather liked because his ears itched so much. Cleared up in a few weeks and he again has pretty pink and white ears >^..^<

  3. Melissa White says

    We rescued a litter of 8 kittens that had been dumped in a friend of my mother’s shrubbery. When my husband took them to the vet, Dr. Lane said looked in their ears and said, “You could grow mushrooms in there!” They all had mites! Dr. Lane treated them. We adopted two (Digit and Roger the Shrubber) and the rest were adopted from Dr. Lane’s clinic. They (along with two older cats) are indoors only and have not had a case of mites since.

  4. Christine Johnston Dutton Beeh says

    Thank you, Dr. Lorie, for sharing your wisdom and for caring for our beloved Gracey, and now Annie, Eddie, and Maggie.

  5. Shadow Dance Ranch Kittehs says

    What a great article. Thank you for sharing it with us. Most of us here are very lucky because we don’t ever go outside, but our Momma does use Revolution on the barn SDR Kittehs to keep all the fleas, ticks and mites away. We hope Annie is all better and done with her treatments. xoxoxo

  6. Retta Shanahan says

    One of my kitties had ear mites and our vet let me look at them under the microscope! EWWW!! They were so gross! I will never put off getting them treated!