Ear Mites on Cats
These critters are parasites belonging to the mange family that infest the ears of cats. The ears will look black and dirty inside, with the crud resembling small coffee grounds. Extremely contagious to other animals. With some cats, it can be difficult to treat and get rid of. Extremely common problem for cats.
Shaking the head often, holding the head at an angle, scratching the ears, holding the ears in weird positions and twitching the ears constantly are other signs of ear mites or other problems with the ears.
A veterinarian can examine the ears, and if necessary take some of that black crud and place it under a microscope to confirm the presence of ear mites. Sometimes ear mites cause actual ear infections but not all ear infections are due to ear mites, whether you see the black stuff inside their ears or not. Many times an ear infection will have a foul smell and maybe excess icky fluid is noticed, especially if they shake their head and it flings out (uck!).
In case you’re wondering what that black crumbly crud is inside their ears…if it’s due to ear mites, then the black stuff consists of: ear wax, blood, ear mite waste and the ear mites themselves. Yummy, huh?
When mites are present, there are a number of effective medications that can be used to get rid of them. If possible, clean the ears with cat ear wipes to remove the excess debris. Some people use a cotton ball covered with olive oil to clean the inside of the ears and use the prescribed medication to kill the mites.
I’ve read where some cat owners claim they’ve used olive oil for several weeks (maybe skipping a day here and there) to basically smother the mites. Another person tried the olive oil method, got rid of the mites, but caused a temporary inner and outer ear skin irritation making most of the hair fall off the poor cat’s ears!
It is important to treat your cat with a flea product at the same time you’re treating the ear mites because the mites can sometimes move out of the ears and live on the body. The flea control medication will kill them, too.
Again, if you try home remedies, and don’t see results within a week or two, or you see redness and irritation, at that point you better get the cat to the veterinarian. Your cat will likely be prescribed a specific medication to treat the ear mites. There are a few choices of treatment and each vet has their preference. Placing the cat on a regular topical flea control product that specifically states it helps to treat and control mites is your best bet for maintaining mite-free ears!
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Jessie says: I confess to the world…I had the dreaded ear mites. My human helped free me of them but I didn’t like my ears being messed with in the process.
Gina says: So true. I sat on the floor holding her between my legs so she wouldn’t squirm away anytime I needed to clean inside her ears. And a note on that black stuff: it’s impossible to get it all out with cotton balls or ear wipes. Don’t use Q-tips as your cat could jerk and you could poke her in the eardrum. After the ear mites are gone, over time, the black stuff eventually falls out, gets scratched out with her toenails, wiped out with her paws as she cleans and wiped out with whatever ear wipes you use.