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Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are a highly contagious type of external parasite commonly found in cats. They can cause itching, inflammation, and hair loss. Today, our vets in Johns Creek discuss how we can treat and help prevent ear mites in cats. 

What are ear mites?

Ear mites, which belong to the arachnid class of animals and can live in the ear canal (and sometimes on the ear's surface), are commonly diagnosed in cats. 

Although ear mites are tiny, you might be able to spot them as quickly-moving white spots. These eight-legged creatures have small, thin legs. You can use your preferred search engine to search for pictures of ear mites in cats for reference. 

Ear mites often cause significant irritation in cats. If not treated early, ear mite infections can lead to severe skin and ear conditions. In many cases, ear mites may be an underlying cause of ear infection. However, ear mites very rarely infect humans and are not considered a human health risk. 

Symptoms of Ear Mites 

Common signs of ear mites in cats include:

  • Pus in the ear 
  • Scratching at ears 
  • Inflammation in the ear 
  • Dark, crusty, or waxy discharge from the ear that looks like coffee grounds 
  • Hair loss or irritation due to excessive scratching around the ears 

What causes ear mites in cats?

A cat can become infected with ear mites if it comes into contact with another infected animal or contaminated surface, like bedding or grooming tools. Always check newly adopted cats for ear mites as they are common in shelter cats. Book a routine checkup with your vet to prevent and treat ear mite infections in cats and dogs. 

How does a vet diagnose ear mites in cats?

A veterinarian will first use an otoscope to check the inside of your cat's ear canal, then take a sample of ear debris to examine under a microscope. This will help the vet determine whether the problem is caused by ear mites, yeast, or bacteria. 

Bringing your cat in for regular checkups gives your vet the chance to check for any early signs of infection before they become serious issues. We also have an in-house vet laboratory that allows us to complete tests and obtain results quickly and efficiently. 

How do you treat ear mites in cats?

If you are a cat owner, you may be wondering how to treat or get rid of ear mites in cats. Fortunately, the treatment is quite simple.

Once your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, your veterinarian will prescribe antiparasitic medication in either a topical or oral form. Your vet will also clean your cat's ears to remove the characteristic wax and discharge associated with these parasites and may prescribe a course of antibiotics based on the severity of your cat's specific case.

Your vet will also check for any secondary infections resulting from the infestation and treat them as necessary. Your vet will likely recommend that you return to the office in a week or two to ensure that the mites are gone and that further treatment is not required.

Your vet may prescribe medication for any other pets in the household to prevent the spread of ear mites.

We strongly advise against using home remedies for ear mites in cats. Although some methods can kill mites, many at-home treatments are not effective against mite eggs. Therefore, while it may appear that the mites have disappeared, the infestation will return when the eggs hatch.

How long does it take to get rid of ear mites in cats?

The life cycle of an ear mite takes about 21 days. Treatment should continue for at least three weeks to ensure that all the mite eggs have been eliminated. That's why your vet will recommend a follow-up visit to ensure that the infection has completely cleared up.

How to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

It's essential to schedule regular checkups for your cat as the veterinarian will examine their ears during the checkup. This can help prevent serious ear mite infestations. 

Also, make sure to clean your cat's ears by using a clean cotton ball dipped in alcohol. Avoid using alcohol in your cat's ear canal. Instead, gently massage the base of your cat's ear for 20 to 30 seconds to distribute the solution. After that, hold the ear flap and use a cotton ball or gauze to remove any debris. 

Apart from cleaning their ears, it's also crucial to clean your cat's carrier, bedding, and home regularly to hill any stray mites. Your vet can recommend parasite-prevention products that will keep your feline companion healthy and happy.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you suspect your cat may have ear mites? Contact our Johns Creek vets to book an appointment for an exam.

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