Firstly, what is a case of interested ear mites in cats? Ear mites are not cat fleas, they are actually parasites that reside in the cat's ear affecting its life quality.
They can be a real nuisance!
Although they don't pose a risk to a feline's life, they can cause infection of the inner ear canal making the cat scratch so violently that the blood veins may eventually burst or cause a painful ruptured eardrum.
Ear mite problems can also diversify causing outer ear infections, yeast infections, itching, and swelling.
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Untreated Ear Mites in Cats (in short)
If left untreated, ear mites infestation can cause bacterial infection, blood vessel rupture, ear canal injury, worsened hearing and even deafening.
Cats usually respond well to ear mite treatment and they recover fast. However, If your feline struggles persistently with ear mites, its skin can get flaky and oily.
You will want to address your vet for additional medicines for skin recovery.
What Are Ear Mites?
Ear mites are parasites of microscopic size that spend their entire life cycle in the cat's ear canal.
They are pretty standard, especially in outdoor cats, and can cause itchiness, inflammation, and a specific ear discharge.
Most cats have to deal with a type of mites called Otodectes cynotis.
Their main sources of food are ear wax buildups and skin oils. The transition from eggs to adult mites ready for reproduction takes about 3 weeks.
The mites reproduce and lay eggs in the ear canal.
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Ear Mite Symptoms
In spite of being too small to be seen with the naked eye, ear mites can be spotted by watching the cat's behavior.
Here are the telltale symptoms of ear mites in your feline friend.
1. Head shaking
If your cat is shaking its head repeatedly and vigorously, it's time to check it for ear mites. However, you can't tell for sure that your feline is infested with mites if you only see it shaking its head.
You have to look for other symptoms that would confirm your suspicion.
2. Ear scratching
A cat with an ear mite infestation will scratch its ears aggressively trying to reduce the itching sensation caused by mites' movement and droppings.
If your cat retreats to its room to scratch so nobody sees it, you can still spot the presence of mites by the redness around the ear.
Hair loss may also result from intense scratching.
3. Ear discharge
Another telltale sign that your cat is struggling with ear mites is a waxy discharge shaped as coffee grounds that accumulate in its ear.
The discharge is unusually dark because it is ear wax and blood combined with mite droppings.
4. Excessive body scratching
Ear mites spend their life cycles in the ear canal, but sometimes they can roam around other parts of the cat's body, such as their fur.
They usually leave their habitat to search for more skin oil which is a matter they thrive off of. If you notice your cat scratching its body unusually often, it might be because of a mite infestation.
Nonetheless, before drawing a conclusion, look for other ear mites symptoms.
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What Causes Ear Mites in Cats?
Cats pick ear mites up through direct contact with other animals, no matter the species.
It can be a dog, a rabbit, or another cat. Your cat might also catch the mites by wandering another animal's environment.
For example, if your cat plays in the bed of your dog that has ear mites, the chance is high mites will transfer onto your kitty's body as well.
When you notice ear mites symptoms in your cat, take it to your vet for investigation.
The vet will collect a discharge sample from your cat's ear and check it for mites under the microscope.
Professional diagnosing of ear mites is important to make sure it's not a yeast infection or another kind of ingestion such as a middle ear infection.
So don't try to confirm the diagnosis at home and establish the treatment on your own.
Cat Ear Mite Treatment
Ear mites can be treated in several ways.
After diagnosing, your veterinarian will prescribe the medications that fit your pet best.
Avoid home remedies and stick only to your vet's treatment and prescription protocol.
Ear drops and a course of antibiotics are common methods of treatment.
It can be a one-time medication that needs a single application to take effect or a medication that has to be taken repeatedly.
You may also need to apply one-time medications on monthly basis to keep ear mites in check and prevent reinfection.
If you have more pets in your house, they should be treated all at once, even if some of them don't show symptoms.
Cat Ear Mite Prevention
Since ear mites are picked up outside, you can prevent them by keeping your cat indoors.
If your furball is an extrovert and loves spending time outdoor, some prevention steps include keeping its bedding clean, disinfecting its cat toys, and taking it for regular vet check-ups.
Also, keep an eye on your pet's behavior to spot early symptoms of ear mites and treat them before they start to torture your cat.
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What Causes Ear Mites in Felines?
Most of the time, cats get infected with ear mites after direct contact with an animal that is already afflicted with these parasites. Playing, walking, and rolling on a territory claimed by an infected animal can also bring ear mites to your cat's body.
How Do I Check My Cat For Ear Mites?
Ear mites in felines are confirmed by a vet who examines an ear discharge sample under a microscope. You can also identify the mites at home using a magnifying glass and see them showing up as white specks. Keep in mind, though, that the vet has the final word in establishing the diagnosis and giving the treatment.
How Can I Tell if My Cat Has Ear Mites?
A cat afflicted with ear mites shakes its head and scratches its ears aggressively. This is made to calm the itching sensation and remove the mites from the ear canal. There could also be a brownish waxy discharge in the ear that is a great discomfort for your cat and blocks the ear canal, reducing the hearing acuity.