Ear Mites in Cats FAQ

By:  Emily Jamnicky

What Are Ear Mites? There are several types of mites that can live in your pet’s ear, but the most common are Otodectes—tiny, eight-legged parasites that feed on the wax and oils in the ear canal. An individual mite has a three-week life cycle, and is hard to detect with the naked eye.

How do cats get ear mites? Outdoor cats are more likely to get ear mites. They can catch them from the environment, or another animal. Ear mites are not species specific, meaning that a cat can pick them up from a dog, and vice versa. Ear mites can be spread through direct contact, or your pet could pick them up from another animal’s environment.

What Harm comes from Ear Mites? These parasites can cause irritation and inflammation; they can infect the external and internal ear canal, and lead to more serious skin or ear infections if not treated. Infection usually produces a characteristic dark discharge; in some cases, the ear canal can become entirely obstructed by this dirt-like debris. This may lead to some hearing loss.

Can Human get ear mites from Cats?
Ear mites can definitely be passed to other pets that come in contact with infected animals or their environment. As for these parasites being passed to humans, they are not zoonotic, meaning they cannot be passed from animal to human and vice versa. You can now rest assured that you and your children are safe from catching ear mites.

How Do I get Rid of Ear Mites? Killarney Cat Hospital is happy to help you effectively treat ear mites.  First the outer ear must be cleaned well to remove any debris or wax. Topical medications such as Revolution will then resolve ear mite infestations.  We recommend at least two doses, given 3 weeks apart to adequately attack all stages of the mite life cycle. On a side note: when getting a topical medication for your cat, make sure to avoid over the counter products that contain permethrins or pyrethrins. These are toxic to cats and can cause death.

How Long Does it Take for Treatment to Work? Topical medications should typically start working right away, and you should see results within a few days. These topical products last approximately 3-4 weeks.

How Do I Prevent Against Ear Mites? You could start with deworming your pet on a regular basis, using a topical medication prescribed by Killarney Cat Hospital.  Outdoor cats and pets coming into contact with other animals are more likely to catch ear mites. You could try to avoid these situations as best you can to prevent ear mites.

Why does my cat have re-occurring Ear Mites issues? If your pet has re-occurring ear mite issues, there are a few reasons why this may be happening. Sometimes, after treatment, there may be some wax or debris left in your pet’s ear that could still be irritating them. In this case, they just need a good ear cleaning.
Another reason could be that all other animals in the house were not treated for ear mites. Considering these mites are quite contagious, if all animals in your house-hold were not treated, chances are they passed the ear mites to your pet again.
One more thing to consider if your pet is having re-occurring problems would be to ask yourself if your pet has actually been diagnosed with this parasite. If not, there could be something else going on that we need to take a closer look at.
If your pet has been diagnosed with ear mites and they just won’t go away, we recommend a veterinary consult for further assessment of the problem and treatment options.