Cats rely heavily on their ears for balance and hearing. Cats can easily contract ear mites from casual contact between cats. Ear mites can cause a range of issues to the cat's ears and hearing. Keep reading to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment of cat ear mites.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites are a small parasite, shaped like a spider. Mites are easily passed between cats by casual contact between cats including fighting, grooming or rubbing against each other. Cats who share bedding can easily pass mites through contact with the bedding as well. Ear mites can also pass to dogs - so if an infected cat takes a sleep on the dogs bedding they can pass mites on to their doggy pal.
What are some signs of ear mites?
Ear mites are very itchy so one of the first signs of ear mites is excessive scratching of the ears and shaking off the head. Mites can be visible in and around the ear, as small dirty white specks moving rapidly.
If left untreated ear mites can lead to infections in the middle and inner ear canal, which can be accompanied by a black or dark brown discharge that can have a bad odour. Over time infections also affect the cat's hearing so your cat may be less responsive to noises and sounds.
If you are unsure if your cat has an ear infection you should take them for a veterinary consultation. The vet takes a small swab from the cat's ear and examines it under a microscope for evidence of ear mites. They can also examine the discharge to see if there is an infection present which can help to determine the best treatment.
How do I treat ear mites?
Ear mites had initially be treated by a spot treatment of insecticide. If there is a more extensive infection the vet may suggest a course of ear drops with an insecticide. It is very important to fully complete the course of insecticide as any mites that make it through the initial treatment can become chemically resistant and much harder to treat.
An ear infection will usually require antibiotics, which can come in either drop form or oral applicators.
If you suspect that your cat may have ear mites it is a good idea to take them to the vet early. It is much easier and more effective to treat ear mites before the infection is ingrained and leads to secondary ear infections.