Yes, Cats Can Get Ear Mites, Too
Author, Darlene Wagner for Professional Pet Sitting Etc.
Yes, the ears of a cat are a prominent and distinctive feature, and, just like dogs, they can sometimes have problems. If you notice your cat has been scratching his ear often, or see a discharge coming from his ear, it could very well be due to an ear mite infestation.
What Are Ear Mites?
Ear mites are very small insects that can live inside an animal’s ear. They feed on debris in the ear, as well as your pet’s ear secretions and blood, and can infest both indoor and outdoor cats. Just like fleas, mites can travel very easily from one pet to another, and young kittens and senior cats are most prone to suffering from ear mites.
Ear Mite Diagnosis
Ear mites are the most common cause of cat ear infection and irritation, but there are other kinds of ear infections, so it’s best to make a positive identification of ear mites before beginning treatment. One way to be positively identify ear mites is to take a sample of the build-up in your cat’s ear, using a tissue, cotton ball or ear swab (be careful not to enter your cat’s ear canal). If you have a home microscope, study the sample and look for movement. Any movement indicates mites. Don’t have a microscope? Take a very bright light, or stand in the sunlight, and look carefully for movement. Still not sure? Your safest bet is to take your cat to your vet for an examination.
Other symptoms of ear mites include itchy ears, shaking of the head, and a bloody or red and irritated ear (due to excessive scratching of the ear). If the mite infection is bad enough, the debris may spread to the outside of the ear as well.
Ear Mite Treatment
There are many options for treatment, but, with any, the first step is to clean your cat’s ears well. Many pet supply shops have over-the-counter ear cleaners, but baby oil on a cotton ball works just as well. Gently swab the ear, remembering to never enter the ear canal, to remove as much debris as possible. Keep in mind, your cat’s ears are likely very sensitive, so be extremely careful and tender.
Next, you will need to apply miticide or a natural remedy to the ear. Miticide is an ear mite treatment that can be purchased from a pet supply shop, and may take up to a week or longer to remedy your cat’s infestation. Another alternative is a prescription miticide from your vet, which can get rid of mites in one dose. As well, there are natural remedies such as smothering the ear mites with olive, mineral, almond or baby oil.
No matter which treatment you apply, if your cat does not get well within a few weeks, have your vet check her for other issues. While ear mites are a likely culprit of ear discomfort, there are other possible ear infections that require diagnosis and treatment from your vet.
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