Don’t underestimate ear mites. These pesky little bloodsuckers can irritate ears causing itchiness, infection, skin lesions, hair loss, and waxy or crusty discharges. As if that weren’t enough, they are highly contagious and can quickly move from your cats to you.
Ear mites are difficult to detect so they can be challenging to deal with. They affect small animals, dogs, cats, and even humans. The good news is, they don't dig deep and can be treated and prevented.
What Are Ear Mites?
Ear mites are tiny creatures that are a common parasite in both cats and dogs. They resemble tiny white dots and are barely visible with the naked eye. Ear mites feed on ear wax and skin oils and live on the skin of the ear canal. Adults have a lifespan of about two months and multiply quickly.
So, how indoor cats get ear mites?
Home environment: Even if your cats spend the majority of their time indoors, they can become infected with ear mites if they are exposed to gardens and balconies with plants and grasses.
New cat: If you bring in a new cat, whether from the streets, a shelter, or a breeder, ear mites can easily switch hosts. This parasite can be picked up by your cat through direct contact or through contact with infected cats' toys or bedding.
Boarding & Grooming: If you frequently send your cats to grooming or boarding homes, they are likely to be infected from other cats.
Vet: Taking your cat to the vet may be another risk area for infection, especially with other infected pets roaming around freely.
How will you know if your cat has ear mites?
A cat with ear mites will continuously scratch and rub its ears, leading to wounds and cuts. You’ll also notice a funky and strong odor from your cat’s ears.
In some cases, scabs can form in cats’ ears and they may even have hair loss around the area. You’ll know your cat has ear mites because your cat’s ears will have a brownish discharge that looks similar to coffee grounds.
Did you know cats balance with their ears? The worst possible effect of ear mites in cats is the gradual deterioration of balance and hearing, a permanent condition caused by a blocked ear canal.
Ear Mite Treatment for Cats
Since ear mites are difficult to see, they’re challenging to detect early on. You’ll usually only be alerted to its presence once your cat starts scratching and suffering its adverse effects.
You’ll also need to be on the lookout for possible inflammation or infection in your cat’s ears. To find out for certain, you should visit the vet for a diagnosis on the matter and ear mite treatment.
How Will My Vet Treat Ear Mites?
After going in to see your vet, expect him or her to check for these white critters with a magnifying scope that’s specifically designed for ears. Upon confirmation of an infestation, the first course of treatment is to clean your cat’s ears thoroughly. This involves removing any wax in cats’ ears that may have settled there.
While you’re there, it’s a good idea to ask your vet to teach you how to clean cat ears since you may find yourself doing this activity regularly.
After a thorough cleaning, you’ll be prescribed ear mite medicine for cats which is usually in the form of a topical cream. To eradicate the mites, you’ll need to apply this on your cat's ears and the surrounding areas for 2 to 3 weeks. Instead of topical medicine, drops for cats’ ears may also be recommended.
Ways to Prevent Ear Mites
Thankfully, there are things we can do to prevent them from happening or at least catch them early on.
Regular Ear Cleaning
Take your cat to the vet for a bi-yearly check-up. During this time, set an ear cleaning schedule too so you can keep the nasty mites at bay. Otherwise, set yourself a monthly cleaning with your cat using tissue papers and cotton ear buds.
Check Your Cat’s Ears From Time to Time
Ear mites can easily be transferred from one pet to another. If your cat has interacted with another cat, promptly check their ears.
Keep Your Home Clean
Deep clean your house at least every week. Include your cats’ favorite napping spots, cat litter box, cat beds, cat trees in the cleanup process.
Vacuum your carpets, couches, and cushions. Wash cloth covers in hot soapy water to kill them.
Preventive Measures Are Best
With regular ear cleaning, ear checks, and house cleaning, you can prevent ear mite infestations. This saves your cat from uncomfortable scratching and other problems and keeps them from transferring to you.
Preventive measures are always the best option for avoiding problems like ear mites so perform them regularly and diligently.