One of the most common health issues for cats is having ear mites. These are tiny, eight-legged parasites that love damp and dark areas. They survive by eating the oils, skin debris, and wax inside the cat’s ear. While they are more common in cats, they also frequently appear in dogs. Humans are largely immune to these parasites.
Cats will usually get ear mites from another pet, as they are highly contagious. They create complications because they burrow into the ear canal. This causes great irritation and inflammation, which can be painful and distressing for the cat. Ear mites are one of the leading causes of ear infections in cats. Despite their small size, they are a significant health issue.
Despite these issues, ear mites are fairly simple to deal with. With the right measures taken, they should be eradicated within a couple of weeks. However, it is important to be thorough and take the proper course of action. Here is a guide to help rid cats of ear mite infections.
Step 1: Identification
The first step in treating an ear mite infection is making sure that the cat actually has mites. Several other types of infections can cause similar symptoms, so it is important to be certain of the presence of mites before beginning any treatment.
The earliest symptoms of ear mites often include the cat shaking its head, scratching the ear, excreting waxy substances, a strong smell, and hair loss. Touching the infected ear may also cause pain or distress.
While gently massaging the ear, scoop some of the debris that is building up inside the ear onto a cotton ball. The debris should be dark, almost resembling coffee grounds. The mites will appear as small white dots that are moving around. Although they can be seen with the naked eye, it is always recommended to take the cat to a vet to be sure. Not only can the doctor view the mites under a microscope, they can also take a swab of the ear and run a simple test.
Step 2: Treatment
After confirming that the cat has ear mites, it is important to immediately begin treatment. Some doctors will recommend treating other pets in the house to ensure that the infection does not spread.
The first step in treating the infection is to remove as much of the debris (and mites) as possible. This will again involve a gentle massage and cotton ball. Using vegetable or olive oil to help loosen the debris is also effective. In some cases, the doctor may have to perform the cleaning if the cat is in great distress.
Next, a medication will be applied to the ear. The vet may prescribe medication or simply recommend using over-the-counter insecticides designed to eliminate mites. This medication can be applied directly to the skin in the ear, or come in the form of ear drops.
Regardless of the particular medication, it is vital to follow the doctor’s instructions (or the instructions on the product) exactly. Many people stop medicating when they no longer see signs of infection. However, a single egg can cause the issue to return, so it is important to complete the entire course of the medication.
In some cases of secondary infections, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
Step 3: Follow Up
As ear mites are highly contagious, it is important to clean the cat and the house thoroughly. Although mites cannot survive for extended periods of time outside the ear, being picked up by another pet can result in another infection.
Visiting the vet after finishing treatment is always recommended in order to be sure that the ear mites have been eradicated.
Ear mites are one of the most prevalent and irritating health issues for cats. They are highly contagious and burrow into the ear canal which causes inflammation. It is always stressful seeing a pet in distress, especially as cats will often scratch so hard at their infected ears that the hair will rub off.
Luckily, these annoying parasites are fairly simple to eliminate. After being properly identified, following the medical treatment recommended by a vet can resolve the issue in a couple of weeks. Although the process can be a hassle, it is always great to see the cat regain its health and comfort.