Ear Mites and Your Cat by Dr. Beth Martin

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are tiny external parasites called Otodectes cynotis, who’s favorite place to live is in the ear canals of cats (although they will easily find a home in your dog’s ears as well!). Ear mites feed by piercing the skin and sucking body fluid. They are highly contagious, and can easily pass from a queen (female cat) to her kittens, from cat to cat who groom each other or who share a common living space. Luckily for us, they don’t consider humans a host, and so we don’t have to be worried about picking up ear mites from our furry friends!

How do I know if my cat has ear mites?

Ear mites are very common in kittens, but can be found on cats of any age. Here are some signs you might notice:

  • Itching of ears, face and neck
  • Constantly shaking their head
  • Thick red-brown or black crusts in the outer ear
  • Coffee ground like bumps in the ear canal
  • Abrasions and scratches on the back side of the ears

What can I do if I suspect that my cat has ear mites?

A quick check up with Dr. Martin or Dr. Boutet here at Acadia Veterinary Hospital can help determine whether your feline (or canine!) has ear mites.  A simple swab is taken of the dark debris in the ears and is examined underneath a microscope. If there are ear mites present, we will see them wiggling around on the slide (eww!). Ear mites are easily treated and prevented as long as ALL of the pets in the household are treated at the same time and with the appropriate treatment!
How do I prevent ear mites in my cat?

All cats that go outside (even on a leash) should be using a monthly preventative- ear mites are very common in our area. Some indoor cats are at risk as well, and their individual risk can be easily be assessed by consulting with your veterinarian.