Cats are prone to getting a variety of parasitic infestations, such as fleas and ear mites. Most pet owners are familiar with fleas and try to take appropriate actions to keep them off their pet, or treat them when they do get them. But if your cat has never had ear mites, you may not be as familiar with this little bug that can reek havoc on your feline’s ears and comfortable little life. Mites are crab-like bugs (parasites) that get into the outer ears, as well as the ear canals. There are several types of mites, however, the most common found in the ears, are the Otodectes Cynotis mites. About 90% of the time, these are the ones found in cats’ ears. If your cat gets a mite infestation in their ears, they will be very uncomfortable and it’s important that you get them treated so that they are happy and healthy once again. The first thing is to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of ear mites so that you can treat them, so, let’s discuss the signs and symptoms to look for.
Signs and symptoms
- Scratching – The most common and most noticeable sign of ear mites in a cat, is excessive scratching. Your cat will have a hard time leaving his ears alone when there are mites inside. Like fleas, these make your pet itch, however, the scratching will be concentrated to the ears.
- Lopsided head turning – If your cat has ear mites in just one ear, he will be more prone to hold his head lopsided and favor one ear over the other. If you notice your cat holding his head tilted to one side all the time, this could indicate mites.
- Dizziness and loss of balance – Your cat might start to show signs of dizziness, or lose his balance more, maybe when jumping up on a piece of furniture or when running and playing, he may seem to appear dizzy. When the mites get into the ear canal, they can affect their balance.
- Hold their ears flat – Your cat may feel uncomfortable to the point where he pulls his ears flat against his head. When they aren’t scratching at their ears, they hold them down, trying to relieve the uncomfortableness inside.
- Odor – Anytime there is a problem with the ears, including mites, the ears can give off a foul smell.
Treatment begins with cleaning your cat’s ears. You will want to do a thorough cleaning on the cat’s ears, or have your cat’s vet clean them if you feel uncomfortable with this. Using a cotton ball, clean the outer part as well as inside of the ear, down into the canal and remove all dirt, debris, and wax. Once the ears are clean, either your vet will, or he will instruct you on how to administer drops that are geared to killing the mites, into the ears. You will need to clean the ears daily, and administer the drops, sometimes multiple times a day, and can be for about a week. If the infestation was bad enough to cause inflammation and a bacterial infection, your vet may order an oral medication to treat the infection.
Knowing what your cat’s regular scratch habits are is helpful in detecting things like ear mites much quicker. It’s always a good idea to pay attention to little things, like, how often they stop to scratch their ears and if they seem to be exhibiting any other signs of being uncomfortable so that you can get your cat to the vet as soon as possible and get started on treatment right away. The sooner you do, the sooner your cat can get back to being his old self again.