We all love spending time with our little furry friends, our cats. Cats are beautiful beings to behold when they play around. But they also get distressed when something bothers them. It could be their food, new routine, health issues or something called mites. Yes, you heard it right! Here we are going to talk about ear mites in cats.
Mites are tiny parasites. These are so tiny, almost about the size of a comma, that you can’t see them with the naked eye. You can observe them under a magnifying instrument called an otoscope. Mites are relatively common because they are highly contagious. Not only cats get mites, other pets such as dogs, rabbits can also be the carrier.
As it is mentioned earlier that ears mites are contagious, cats get them through direct contact with other infected animals. Cats also get mites while searching around or playing outdoors. Mites in the ear can survive in the environment for months. In shelters or catteries or pet shops, where cats live nearby, it is common for cats to have mites.
Mites live inside the ear on the skin of the ear canal. It feeds on tissue debris, wax, skin oil, and canal secretions. These thrive in a warm environment. As they live and breed in the cat’s ear canal, they cause discomfort and itching. They cause inflammation of the outer ear canal; this can lead to bacterial and fungal infection. And in extreme cases, if left untreated, they can rupture eardrums resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Now you are reading about mites in cats; you might require answers for many questions. Let’s start by signs that you see when there are mites in cats’ ears.
Symptoms of Ear mites in cats
Ear scratching and excessive head shaking are the first clues that your cat has mites. Head shaking gives the sign that your cat might be trying to dislodge something in its ear. Excessive scratching can also lead to bleeding. You will also notice reddened and inflamed ear. Your cat will hold its ear at an odd angle or move with a tilted head. If you take a peek inside the cat’s ears, you can see a dark brown crumbly substance resembling coffee ground. Dead mites, dried blood, and ear wax form this foul-smelling debris.
Although mites mostly live inside ears, this is not the only place that can reside.
These parasites can travel to other areas of the cat’s body. Just like the ear, the cat will scratch that part. Due to scratching, mites may travel to back feet and claws. This will result in redness or hair loss. We all are well aware of how much a cat enjoys when we gently massage the back of its ear. But a cat with mites starts scratching vigorously and tries to getaway. These are the signs that show that your cat has unwanted companions inside its ears and they are causing a great deal of trouble to it. Despite that, it is important to consult a vet to check your cat.
Ear Mites in cats under 12 weeks
Are you thinking what about the cute little kittens? Well, sadly, they get mites too. Mites quickly spread from one animal to another. These affect almost half of the cats’ and dogs’ population. Kittens usually get mites in-ears from their mothers. However, they can also get them from another pet or other neighborhood cats or while exploring the environment.
Symptoms of having these parasites in kittens are similar to those of adult cats, which include pawing the ear, shaking the head, thickening, and reddening of ear skin or brownish discharge of ear. When you consult a vet, your vet will diagnose this condition by using otoscope, i.-e, observing the ear canal, as well as mites may be found on an ear swab.
The fact that the immune system of kittens is not that strong as compared to adult cats, they are more susceptible to getting mites. Nutrition is specifically crucial for their ideal growth and development of their immune mechanism. In a few cases of ear mites, along with prevention, your vet may suggest a therapeutic antiallergenic food that would help reduce the exposure to potential allergies.
Ear Mites in Cats
You can use human-grade mineral oil and olive oil used to clean the ears of kittens. Put some drops of oil into the kitten’s ears and massage gently. This will help bring the debris out of the ear canal to the outer portion of the ear, from where you can easily wipe the debris using a cotton ball or tissue. Refrain from using cotton swabs as it may damage the eardrum. Repeat the cleaning process daily until you all debris is gone.
Many medicines are not recommended for pregnant, nursing cats and also for kittens under 12 weeks. You should check the label. It might identify a certain age, such as 12 weeks or older. However, there are some drugs that you can use. For instance, Milbemite is prescribed for kittens of four weeks and older. But it is better to leave the medicine department to your vet and let him do the work. The vet may suggest anti-yeast or antibacterial ear drops for use at home.
Can humans get mites from cats?
The answer to this dangerous scenario is no, thankfully. It is extremely rare. Although some cat owners have claimed that they developed skin rashes when their pet had mites. But the parasites that affect cats are different from the parasites that affect humans. Hence, there is no need to worry about that.
Prevention of ear mites in cats
You know that prevention is better than cure. Right! When you regularly de-worm or de-flea your cat, it would be best to prevent mites. However, you should be vigilant for symptoms of mites. And if somehow your cat gets mites, make sure to quarantine kittens, cat, and other pets. You can also put your cats over 8 weeks of age on Revolution for a monthly basis.
Once you have treated mites in your cat, you must always dry the ears of the cat thoroughly after bathing him. It is because mites thrive in a warm environment. These parasites are also able to survive in carpet, furniture, fabrics, for a limited time. Therefore, it is necessary to keep a cat’s environment always clean. You can make the following adjustments to your cat’s routine to keep it mite-free:
- Keep the cat’s ears clean. You can use liquid ear cleaner and cotton balls for this purpose.
- Use anti-parasite treatment once a month. For example, the treatment Revolution kills mites as well as fleas and worms.
- You can put olive oil or baby oil drops in your cat’s ears to prevent mites.
- When you have treated your cat for mites, make sure that you simultaneously treat all the animals that live together. This is because ear mites in cats are contagious and can quickly spread from one pet to another. Do this before turning to a clean cat’s environment.
- Make sure to clean the cat’s bedding and play area once a week. You can wash the bedding using the washing machine or by hand. Use a fabric cleaner or spot cleaner to clean the cat’s play area. Also, make sure that the products you use don’t contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to animals.
- If your cat’s toys are made of fabric, they could be a place where mites reside. Therefore, also wash the cat’s toys using mild detergent and hot water. Mix mild detergent in warm water and soak toys in it for 10-20 minutes.
- Clean your entire home regularly. Vacuuming regularly and using some insect killer sprays are helpful.
- If you are planning on bringing a new pet home, it is better to check whether it is mite-free or not. If it is not mite-free, start the treatment and quarantine that pet until the parasites go away. You have to be thorough in your inspection.
- Cats are more prone to getting mites if they spend a lot of time outside. If you have lots of space provided to your cat or play area where you also provide a scratching post, your cat might not be bothered by the idea of spending most of the time inside the home. Keep the cat indoors as much as possible and make sure that the indoor is clean also.
- Now that you have been successful in making the necessary adjustments do schedule regular vet check-ups. Also, check your cat for mites once a week, by yourself.
Using olive oil to treat ear mites in cats
Olive oil! Yes, you got it right! Among other wonders that olive oil does, it can also be used to get rid of mites in cats and kittens. You can put a few drops of warm olive oil in the cat’s ear canal and gently massage. It will help bring the debris or mites to the outer area of the ear. Then wipe it. Probably, adult mites will die right away. Use olive oil for at least six weeks, so that if mite eggs hatch, you are also able to get rid of them through this process.
Some cat owners also mix crushed garlic with olive oil while heating. It also works well because the oil as well as the scent of garlic, both serve as mites repellent. And due to its antibiotic properties, it soothes inflammation.
Mineral oil is also known to be useful for mites in cats.
Natural remedies to treat ear mites in felines:
Some medicines used to treat mites in cats are not suitable for kittens. Specific age is mentioned on these pesticides. Some natural remedies treat mites without any harm. These remedies are discussed as follows:
Massage organic honey on kitten’s ear every day. It would chase away mites. Make sure the honey needs to be organic; otherwise, it would not make any difference.
Aloe vera has multiple therapeutic properties. It neutralizes mites and prevents them from returning. All you have to do is massage aloe vera on the ear, or you can use lotion.
Garlic with olive oil
As mentioned earlier, olive oil can be used to treat mites. Garlic mixed with olive oil while heating reduces inflammation and repels mites.
Rub vaseline on kitten’s ears until it is absorbed well. It is beneficial for redness, irritation and ear infections.
Apple cider vinegar
Use diluted apple cider vinegar only if your cat is not allergic to it. Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water. Spray it onto kitten’s ears for at least 10 days. Apple cider vinegar is effective for eliminating mites and hinders their growth as well.
These remedies are effective, but there is still a chance that these will not work for some kittens. Therefore, it is always better to contact the vet and not delay the treatment process.
One or two applications of some spot-on treatments are usually enough. Spot on treatments are the most popular and these are also less stressful for your cat and you. Ear drops are also available and they take about three weeks of treatment. In 12 days, eggs of mites develop into adults. Ear drops don’t destroy eggs. Thus, it is important to use such treatments for the prescribed period. Another form of treatment is topical. These are much stronger and take about 10 to 14 days to serve the purpose. Topical treatment kills adult mites, eggs and also treats infections caused by mites.
Though ear mites in felines are distressing and they can be fatal if left unchecked, fortunately, there are some visible signs that alarm you about the parasites and also treatments are available to prevent and get rid of them. You just have to be vigilant enough to observe these signs and to contact your vet as soon as possible.