A photo of an orange cat laying on the ground and itching around their face

Health & Wellness

The best way to remedy your cat’s ear mites

Those cute ears shouldn't be irritated

Cats are master groomers, so if you notice that your pet’s ears are irritated and itchy, dirt may not be the problem — but, ear mites could be. 

Ear mites, which are highly contagious arachnids that live on cats' skin and in their ear canals, can cause extreme itchiness, among other symptoms. Here’s everything you need to know about how ear mites impact cats — and how to prevent them altogether. 

Symptoms of ear mites in cats

An ear mite’s life cycle is usually a total of 3 weeks, Dr Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, says. Adults ear mites can lay eggs in a cat’s ear canal that hatch within 4 days. Once they’ve hatched, they eat the cat’s ear wax and skin oils, and can mate and produce more larvae. Essentially, ear mites spread quickly, which is why it’s important to spot the signs they’re around and take action quickly. Here’s some symptoms to look for:

  • Itchy ears
  • Head shaking
  • Dark or brown ear discharge
  • Smelly ears

Symptoms like itchy ears can cause your cat to self-inflict scratches, redness and aural hematomas in their ears — so keep an eye out for those signs, too. 

Where do ear mites come from? 

According to Dr. McCullough, cats catch ear mites through contact with other infected pets. So if your cat is diagnosed with ear mites, it’s vital to separate them from other animals — and potentially people.

“Ear mites very rarely infect humans. If they do, it’s temporary, as they prefer cat and dog hosts, but this is extremely unlikely,” Dr. McCullough adds. 

How to check your cat for ear mites

Dr. McCullough says that an ear mite looks like a moving, white speck to the naked eye. Take your cat to the vet as soon as they start showing symptoms of ear mites. 

“Ear mites are diagnosed by veterinarians by taking a swab of the ear canals and examining it under a microscope,” she adds. “Ear mites are typically very easy to detect this way.”

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Ear mite medicine for cats

Treating cats with ear mites typically involves cleaning their ears with veterinary-recommended ear cleaning solutions. 

“In addition, your veterinarian will likely recommend a topical medication, which can be applied to the skin or directly in the ear, which will kill the ear mites,” Dr. McCullough says. “All pets in the household will likely need treatment because ear mites are very contagious.”

Your cat will most likely recover from ear mites within 2 to 4 weeks by following your veterinarian’s instructions. In addition, you can lower the general chances of your cat getting ear mites by asking your vet about monthly flea preventatives.

Home remedies for cats with ear mites

According to Dr. McCullough, there are no home remedies that treat ear mites in cats. While your cat recovers, make them comfortable by following the vet’s instructions and, under their guidance, clean your cat’s ear by removing debris as much as possible. 

We understand the hype around hanging out with your cat all the time, but ear mites shouldn’t have that opportunity. Constant itching can cause scratches, redness or bumps to your cat’s ears, so it’s important to talk to your veterinarian as soon as you spot the signs of ear mites in cats.

Photo by Ludemeula Fernandes on Unsplash

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