Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Ear Mites in Cats: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Ear mites are highly contagious parasites that can cause serious discomfort and secondary infections. Luckily treatment is relatively straightforward. Here, our Fairhaven veterinarians talk about the effect of ear mites and how to get rid of ear mites in cats and prevent future infestations.

Ear Mites in Cats

Ear mites, known as Otodectes cynotis mites, commonly infest cats and belong to the arachnid class of animals. These highly contagious external parasites inhabit the surface of the ear canal and sometimes the skin.

These minuscule creatures can be detected as fast-moving white spots, especially if you have good eyesight. They possess eight legs, with a noticeably smaller pair of hind legs. You can find images of ear mites in cats by using your preferred online search engine, and the thumbnail image accompanying this post depicts a buildup of black wax inside the ear of a cat with ear mites.

Ear mites can cause severe irritation in our feline companions. Although they are relatively easy to treat, neglecting them can lead to severe skin and ear infections. Suspected ear infections in cats are often attributed to ear mites. It's important to note that human ear mite infections are rare and generally not considered a health risk.

What causes ear mites in cats?

As you begin reading about the world of ear mites, you might wonder how these parasites infiltrate your cat's ears, causing distress. Some cat owners will eventually ask their veterinarians, 'What causes ear mites in cats?' Ear mites spread easily from one infected animal to another due to their high contagiousness. While cats are most commonly affected, dogs and other wild animals can harbor these pests. If your cat frequents boarding facilities or the outdoors, coming into contact with other animals or contaminated surfaces like grooming tools or bedding can lead to the transmission of ear mites.

Shelter cats often fall victim to ear mites, so it's crucial to examine your newly adopted cat for signs of infestation and promptly schedule a veterinary check-up.

The highly contagious nature of ear mites can cause many parents to also wonder if they can spread from their cat to themselves or other family members. Luckily, ear mites are not typically a threat to people.

Symptoms of Ear Mites

The most common signs of ear mites in cats include: 

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

Ear Mites in Cats: Treatment

A quick search for 'how to treat ear mites in cats' online can bring up pictures along with an abundance of information. Fortunately, treating ear mites in cats is fairly simple.

If your vet diagnoses your cat with ear mites, they will prescribe an anti-parasitic medication, available in oral or topical forms. The vet may also clean your cat's ears with a designated solution and may prescribe antibiotics based on the infection's severity.

Your vet will also examine your cat for any secondary infections caused by scratching and treat these as needed. A follow-up appointment in a week or two will likely be recommended to ensure complete mite elimination and assess the need for further treatment.

To prevent the infestation from spreading, your vet will likely prescribe medication for any other household pets due to the contagious nature of ear mites.

Using home remedies for ear mites in cats is not advisable because many fail to eliminate mite eggs. Unfortunately, even if the mites themselves are gone the infestation can reoccur when the eggs hatch.

Preventing Ear Mite Infestations

Schedule a monthly check-up and ear cleaning with your veterinarian to prevent ear mites. Set a biweekly reminder to clean your cat's kennel, bedding, and house to reduce the risk of infection at home. Consult your veterinarian at New England Animal Hospital for recommendations for parasite prevention products and the ideal schedule to administer them.

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.

Is your cat due for annual preventive care or a routine exam? Contact our experienced Fairhaven vets today to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

New England Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fairhaven companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(508) 996-6700 Contact