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What are cat's ear mites and how to treat them?

Updated on November 29, 2007

Ear mites are parasites that can be found in the ears of animals, however it is cats that spend time outdoors that are most susceptible to them. They are crab like parasites (also going under the technical term of Otodectes cynotis) who lodge themselves in the ear canals and feed on the dirt and debris that can be found there.

Check your cat's ears, if there is a sort of black oily dirt inside the ear chances are your cat has ear mites. Also if your cat start to shake her head and scratch the ears, it could be down to ear mites. Worse still ear mites can be transferred from cat to another cat (which can be a problem in a multicat household) as well as to other animals and even worse humans. So if you find that one of your cats has ear mites check all the other animals as well.

Why are ear mites dangerous? If left untreated they can lead to all sorts of yeast and bacterial infection and can have a ruptured eardrum as a result. Ruptured ear drum can lead to loss of hearing. And really there is no need for that as there are simple yet effective treatments that can nip them in the bud. When vet treats your cat for ear mites, he or she will administer special type of ear drops that are given 2 to 3 times a day for several days in succession. Before that cat ears have to be cleaned however it is best to leave that to the doctor.

After that vet will probably give your cat prescription eardrops that will have to be administered at home sometimes up to a month. This is done to prevent another outbreak as ear mites can live up to 3 weeks so like fleas you have to make sure to break that cycle.

Although you can clean your cat's ears at home with a swab or a cotton ball with baby oil or mineral oil, you have to extra careful as cats ears are sensitive plus you have to be careful not to get any of the oil in the ear canal as this can cause serious damage. Sometime ear mite outbreak can lead to ear infection, you can notice this if you smell your cat's ears, there will be a strong smell present.

However before you decide on any type of treatment, it would be best to take your cat to the vet if you suspect he or she has got a case of ear mites. With a simple examination your vet will be able to determine if that is the case, if there is a possible ear infection as well and what kind of treatment should be given. Probably another check-up will be scheduled after the treatment is complete to make sure ear mites have not returned. As a cat owner what you can do to prevent ear mites is to keep your cat indoors and apply regular flea treatment. Topical treatment will kill fleas, larvae, eggs and prevent the outbreak of ear mites as well. Like with fleas you will have to treat both your cat and your home as ear mites can survive even when they are not directly on your cat.

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