How to Get Rid of Ear Mites in Cats

As a cat owner, you’ll know that our feline companions are prone to unwanted visitations by certain parasites. Fleas are the most common, closely followed by ear mites.

In fact, ear mites are pretty fond of pestering (pun intended) our beloved pets.

Contagious and extremely irritating, they live in the ear canal feeding on the wax and oils produced by the cat’s ear.

To prevent them from migrating from feline to feline and to stop them from driving your cat crazy, it’s important to identify and treat them as soon as possible.

In this article, we’ll explore how to do just his.

How to Check for Ear Mites in Cats

Cat ear mites can be difficult to spot with the naked eye. They’re the size of pin-heads and resemble tiny white specks.

It’s actually easier to spot ear mite’s fecal matter which often resembles coffee-grounds and stinks.

You’ll be able to see in in the ear canal if you look closely enough – sometimes you find the matter on the skin in and around the ear.

If you suspect that your cat may have ear mites, here are the main signs to look for:

  • Scratching/Rubbing at the Ears
  • Shaking the Head
  • Dark, Crumbly Debris in Ears
  • Redness or Swelling of Ear Canal
  • Foul Odor
  • Warm Ears

Scratching/Rubbing at the Ears

Cats with ear mites often scratch or rub their ears excessively, sometimes to the point of causing injury.

Shaking the Head

If your cat frequently shakes his head, tilts it to one side or flattens/twitches the ears, this could be a sign of ear mites. They can cause extreme agitation so the cat will likely scratch and shake his head vigorously.

Dark, Crumbly Debris in the Ears

Ear mites produce a dark, crumbly material that looks a bit like coffee grounds. This is often a real giveaway that mites are hitching a ride in your cat’s ears.

Redness or Swelling of Ear Canal

Ear mites can cause redness inflammation of the ear canal which may appear red, swollen, or tender. Excessive scratching sometimes exacerbates the problem.

Foul Odor

As mentioned, a foul smell emanating from your cat’s ears is often a tell-tale sign of an ear mite infection. Be sure to look for other symptoms though. Ear wax doesn’t exactly smell like perfume either!

Treating Ear Mites in Cats

In treating ear mites in your cat, you should take the following approach.

Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears

Cleaning your cat’s ears removes any excess wax and debris that may block topical medications.

Step 1 – Sourcing the Supplies

You’ll need a few items to perform the task including cotton balls or pads.

We’d also recommend an ear cleaning solution for cats. You can get this from your vet or pet store.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the cleaning solution carefully and avoid using cotton swabs – these can push debris further into the ear canal.

Once the ears are clean, you’ll be able to use medication, be it a prescribed or over-the-counter product.

Step 2 – Restraining Your Cat

Cleaning your cat’s ears may prove a bit uncomfortable.

So ensure that he’s securely restrained to prevent him from running away or scratching you.

Wrap your cat in a towel/ blanket and, if you think it necessary, ask a helper to hold your cat gently but firmly.

Step 3- Applying the Cleaning Solution

Squeeze a few drops of the ear cleaning solution into your cat’s ear canal (following the instructions on the bottle).

Gently massage the ear for about 30 seconds to distribute the solution.

Step 4 – Removing the Debris

Massage the ear and then use a pad or cotton ball, gently removing debris that falls out of the ear.

The removal of larger chunks of debris may require a pair of tweezers.

Repeat the above steps with the other ear. Once finished, use a fresh cotton ball to wipe and dry the outer ear

Step 5 – Rewarding Your Cat

When you’re done, give your cat a treat and some cuddles (if he’s the demonstrative type).

Bear in mind that he might want some time alone, though,

Regardless, the goal here is to associate the experience with something positive.

Medications for Treating Ear Mites in Cats

There are several medications available that can treat ear mites in cats. Prescription medications are by far the most useful.

Prescription Medications

Typically available on prescription through your veterinarian, the most commonly-prescribed FDA-approved medications are as follows.

Advantage Multi (Imidacloprid and Moxidectin)

Advantage Multi is a monthly topical medication that also protects against fleas, heartworms, and other parasites.

It works well in getting rid of ear mites and is safe for use on cats weighing at least 2.2 pounds and over 9 weeks old.

Advantage Multi is applied to the skin on the back of the cat’s neck

Revolution (Selamectin)

Revolution is a topical medication that’s good against ear mites as well as fleas, ticks and other parasites.

It’s applied topically on the back of the neck where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream, killing parasites throughout the body.

Revolution is safe for use on kittens as young as 8 weeks old. In fact, it’s preferred by a lot of vets because it has few side effects.

Acarexx (Ivermectin)

Acarexx is an ear drop medication that contains ivermectin, an anti-parasitic medication that geds rid of ear mites.

Suitable for cats at six months or over, it’s a very effective ear mite treatment.

There are some side effects however such as diarrhea, lethargy and vomiting.

Tresaderm (Thiabendazole, Dexamethasone, and Neomycin)

Tresaderm is an ear drop medication that contains an antifungal, a corticosteroid and an antibiotic.

It’s used to treat a variety of ear infections among them those caused by ear mites.

Tresaderm is administered directly into the cat’s ear canal and can eliminate infections in a matter of days.

In addition to these medications, your veterinarian may also recommend antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications.

These will help soothe inflammation and prevent secondary infections.

Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter ear mite medications tend to be applied topically and can prove effective at getting ride of cat ear mites.

Most of the big brands contain ingredients such as Pyrethrin and Piperonyl Butoxide.

Pytrethrin is a natural insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum, while Piperonyl Butoxide is chemical compound that’s added to insecticides to increase their effectiveness.

Popular over-the-counter brands for treating ear mites include:

  • Four Paws Ear Mite Remedy (Pyrethrin)
  • Hartz UltraGuard Ear Mite Treatment (Pyrethrin and Piperonyl Butoxide)
  • Sentry HC Earmite Free Ear Miticide (Pyrethrin and Piperonyl Butoxide)
  • Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash (Chamobile, Yucca, Clove Oil)

Home Remedies for Treating Ear Mites in Cats

While home remedies are recommended by a lot of cat-related websites, there’s scant scientic evidence to support their effectiveness.

With that said, some home-based treatments do relieve symptoms.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is one particular home remedy that can be of some use thanks to its antibacterial properties and ability to reduce inflammation.

Warm up the oil a little and then massage into the ears, repeating the process for up to ten days

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil can help to soothe irritated skin and smother ear mites.

Place a few drops of mineral oil in your cat’s ear, gently massage the base of the ear and wipe away any excess oil.

Baby Oil

Remedies such as baby oil are actually recommended by veterinarians (although not as a first choice).

It’s thought that the oil suffocates the mites through continued application.

But be prepared to administer the oil several times a day for over the month before you see any results.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Despite the anti-microbrial properties present in apple cider vinegar, the jury is still out regarding its effectiveness in treating feline ear mites.

But if you’re hell-bent on trying, be sure to dilute the vinegar in water to make a 50/50 solution.

Then apply it to your cat’s ears, preferably with a spray bottle. This should be repeated for about 10 days.

Given the vinegar’s acidic content, this option should only be tried if your cat’s ears are free from open sores.

Aloe Vera

Although not effective as an actual treatment for ear mites, Aloe Vera possesses anti-inflammatory qualities that may help to relieve itching.

Apply a little to the inside of the ear although not the ear canal itself. Then observe your cat’s behavior. If the itching ceases or is less frequent, repeat the process.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting Ear Mites

There are a number of measures you can take to help prevent ear mites These include:

Regular Ear Cleaning

Regularly cleaning your cat’s ears can help to remove excess wax and debris. This can reduce the risk of ear mite infestation.

Use a gentle, cat-specific ear cleaning solution and cotton balls or pads to clean the ears.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

Naturally, outdoor cats are more likely to come into contact with animals affected by ear mites.

So keeping your cat permanently indoors is an option, albeit a rather extreme one.

This is not going to be ideal for most owners. But implementing house arrest can reduce their exposure to these parasites.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

Regular check-ups with your veterinarian will help to catch ear mites early and prevent more serious infections.

Your veterinarian can also recommend appropriate preventative ear mite treatments.

Treat Any Other Infected Pets

If you have multiple pets and one has ear mites, you’ll need to treat all of them, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Ear mites can spread easily and quickly between animals.

Final Thoughts

To recap then, if you suspect your cat has ear mites, inspect his ears.

Because it’s sometimes difficult to spot ear mites, you should also observe your cat’s behavior

Look out for symptoms including excessive scratching and flattening or twitching of the ears.

Should you come across any of these, get in touch with your vet to receive an official diagnosis.

In all likelihood, ear drops, an oral medication or topical treatment will then be prescribed.

It may then take several weeks of treatment for the ear mites to be completely eliminated.

Nevertheless, be sure to monitor your cat’s progress and report any concerns to your vet.

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