Ear Mites in Cats & Kittens: Signs, Symptoms & Treatments

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What You Should Know About Ear Mites in Cats!
Ear mites are contagious. Ear mites are parasites that live on the skin’s surface, especially on the skin lining of the ear canal. They are transferred from cat to cat by direct contact. Ear mites and eggs can persist in the environment for several months. They can then return to re-infest your cat.

SignsKitten walking
Ear mites account for most ear problems in cats. Although all cats in a household may be affected, most serious problems occur in kittens.

Signs to watch for:

  • Reddish-black in the ear canal(s)
  • Rubbing and scratching the affected ear
  • Ear twitching and head shaking are common
  • Occasionally, ear mites infest other parts of a cat’s body. Hair loss in a particular area and reddened, scratched skin suggest such an infestation.

Diagnosis by your veterinarian
The diagnosis will be confirmed by your veterinarian when they examine your cat’s ear canals with a special magnifying instrument called an otoscope. Ear mites or eggs may be found during the examination or may also be found by examining your cat’s earwax under a microscope.

Treatment and Home Care
Ear issues must be treated persistently and specifically, depending on the diagnosis. In some cases, treatment may need to be continued for several weeks.

In most cases your veterinarian will need to clean your cat's ears before treatment can be effective. Because ear mites readily infest other pets, all cats and dogs in the home should be treated.

Home care usually includes administering medications, so be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions closely. The household itself may be treated with flea-control foggers or sprays to lessen the chances of re-infestation.

Nutrition
If your cat has ear mites, your veterinarian may suggest a change in her food. For kittens, nutrition is especially important for optimal growth and proper development of the immune system. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a therapeutic hypoallergenic cat food to help limit exposure to potential allergens. Ask your veterinarian about which Hill’s cat food is appropriate for your cat.

Unless recommended otherwise by your veterinarian, gradually switch your cat to a new cat food over a seven-day period. Learn how to transition your cat gradually to a new cat food.

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