The ear mite is the most common cause of ear infections in cats, quickly spreading from one cat to another through direct contact.
Ear mites are exactly what they sound like -- little parasites that crawl around and multiply, most commonly in the ear canal of cats. These little mites are quite contagious and can cause an extremely itchy and uncomfortable situation for your cat. Unlike other mites, these can be seen with the naked eye. They are usually seen as very tiny white specks against a black background.
SOURCE & CAUSES OF EAR MITES IN CATS
The ear mite is a surface mite that generally lives on your cat under normal conditions. However, if the environment is right, these mites multiply and become too high in number, resulting in an ear mite infestation.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF EAR MITES IN CATS
The most common symptoms of ear mites are:
- Scratching ears excessively
- Shaking head
- A thick, black, crusty residue present inside of ears
DIAGNOSIS & TESTS FOR EAR MITES IN CATS
If your cat is showing these symptoms, your veterinarian will most likely do the following:
- Compile a complete history to determine whether or not your cat has been exposed to other cats with ear mites
- Ear swab and Cytology - A sample of the material that is in the ear will be examined under a microscope in order to determine if there are mites, bacteria, or yeast in the ear. Based on the findings a variety of treatments will be recommended.
- Ear exam with Otoscope - This is an instrument that will allow for visualization of the ear canal and the eardrum. This is normally a painless procedure, however your cat may say otherwise if his/her ear is infected. It may be necessary to sedate your cat if it does prove too painful. The otoscope is useful to determine if there is any foreign body in the ear.
TREATMENT & MANAGEMENT OF EAR MITES IN CATS
The good news about ear mites is they are easy to treat. The most common treatment is done with a medication called Acarexx TM. This medication is instilled into both ears and usually takes one dose to kill the mites. Veterinarians not using this drug will clean the ears and instill another ear medication that may need multiple treatments.
PREVENTION & HELPFUL TIPS FOR EAR MITES IN CATS
Ear mites can be prevented with the use of a monthly heartworm preventive that includes an ear mite preventive. Keeping your cat from being exposed to other cats that have ear mites is the obvious prevention method.
- Ear mites cause over half of all feline ear infections
- Ear mites have been known to cause a rash on people, but it usually resolves itself on its own
- The entire ear mite life cycle takes place on animals