Just the other week, I took my cat to the vet to get her hair cut. After the cutting session and her health being checked, the vet told me that the cat had very dirty inside of her ears, so they had done a cleaning.
He explained to me the problems that dirt could cause my cat, especially it could attract a parasitic infection by mites in my cat’s ear.
For all this, in this article I will talk to you about the consequences and cure of a cat ear mite infection , its prevention, remedies and treatment.
The problem of mites in cats
Mites are prolific . They are very contagious and although it is a very common problem among cats, the rest of the domestic animals in our home can be affected.
There are thousands of different types of mites, and most are microscopic. Some are harmless, like a type of mite that normally lives on most people’s eyelashes. However, the mites that affect felines are far from harmless.
Mites in cats can cause middle ear infections and inflammation. Ear mites are intensely itchy, so infected animals constantly scratch their ears. As a result of scratching and shaking the head, atrial hematomas (bags filled with blood in the ear) and serious problems such as infections, inflammation, polyps, and even hearing loss can develop.
The most common mites in cats: Otodectes cynotis
Mites are parasites that live in the ear canal of cats and dogs, resembling white dots, difficult to see with the naked eye. Among the different types of mites, which can invade the ear canals of cats , the most common species observed in veterinary practice is Otodectes cynotis , which lives in the external auditory canal of dogs and cats (responsible for approximately 90% of mite infections in cats).
The mites of this species have a rather rounded shape and are between 0, 25 and 0.5 mm in size, the females are larger than the males.
Although they are usually located in the external auditory canal , sometimes the problem can spread to other parts of the cat’s body: the head and face of our cat, even sometimes problems have been located in areas of the tail .
They do not tunnel into the skin, but instead feed on keratin and exudates from the skin, which they attack with saliva.
The life cycle of Otodectes Cynotis
The life cycle takes approximately 21 days to complete. There are four different stages:
- The eggs are laid on the surface of the ear canal and take about 4 days to hatch.
- The larvae in the eggs feed for a few days and then rest for a day before molting to form the nymphal phase.
- Nymphs feed for 4 days, then molt and feed again for about another 4 days before molting again and becoming adults.
- Adult ear mites feed on the flakes and secretions of the skin in the ear canal and lay their eggs to start the next generation.
How can I tell if my cat has Otodectes cynotis?
The mites stimulate the production of wax by the glands located in the ear canal. This causes excessive wax production and a thick brown layer of ear wax in the canal is almost always a symptom of ear mite infestation. The mites appear as small white moving objects on the brown wax.
The most common symptoms that our cat suffers from this problem would be:
- Excessive scratching and itching around the ears.
- Head shaking.
- Hair loss and dermatitis, especially around the ears and head.
- Presence of dry black or brown wax discharge, resembling coffee grounds.
- Inflammation of the ear, scratches or scabs around the ears.
- Bad smell coming from the ears.
Irritation in a cat’s ears can also be caused by allergies that cause infections, so it is crucial that you take your cat to the vet for a proper diagnosis, keep in mind that parasites are difficult to detect with the naked eye.
How to diagnose the presence of mites in your cat
Typical clinical signs with a history of contact with other cats suggest the existence of ear mites . Although ear mites often cause ear disease, other conditions can lead to very similar clinical signs and should be ruled out before starting treatment.
A veterinarian makes the diagnosis by looking at the mite. This is generally straightforward and can be done either by examining the pet’s ears with an otoscope or by microscopic examination of the ear discharge . If the ears are very sore, the cat may need sedation to allow the ears to be properly examined and treated.
If you don’t see the vet, it can take weeks of improper treatment and make the situation worse.
Prevention methods against mite infestation
Keeping the cat’s ears clean:
Under normal circumstances it is not necessary to clean your cat’s ears, although it does not hurt to do so to prevent our cat from infections.
Once your vet has confirmed that you have a mite infection in the ears , you should clean them before treatment. If you don’t, dead mites, debris, and other debris can protect live mites and their eggs from the trouble that this poses.
Although it is not mandatory, you should make regular ear cleaning part of your routines with your cat . Start inspecting and cleaning your cat’s ears from time to time, since they are kittens. Make sure this is always a positive experience, you can use treats during and after cleaning.
Some cats will happily sit on your lap while you clean their ears, but many cats will protest. It is important that you do not get discouraged and that you take advantage when it is relaxed.
Here are the steps to follow to clean your cat’s ears:
- Make sure you have the necessary: need a l impiador ear, cotton balls and warm water. Cotton swabs are not recommended, they can damage the ear and they release cotton balls that can cause an infection.
- Place the cat on a table or on your lap and wrap its body in a towel. You may need help if your cat doesn’t like having her ears cleaned.
- Hold the tip of the ear between your thumb and forefinger and gently fold it back so that you can see the inside of the ear.
- Examine the ear for redness or discharge. Light brown wax is normal, but black, red, or pus discharge indicates an infection.
- Gently clean the inside of the ear with a damp cotton ball or wet wipes.
- If the ear contains a lot of wax or dirt, you should be administered l impiador ears , as well as massaging the base to help the cleaner reaches the required areas.
- Wipe the inside of the ear with a cotton ball to remove excess ear cleaner.
- If the ear is infected or has mites, your cat may require medication. Always seek the advice of your vet to confirm the diagnosis and to ensure that you are using the most appropriate treatment for your cat. Remember that improper use of ear cleaning solutions or ear drops can permanently damage your cat’s hearing.
I show you a short video so that you can observe tips for cleaning cat ears :
Natural treatment against mites in cats
Keep the environment in which the cat lives clean.
- Make sure all the animals in the house are treated for ear mites . Most infections are pet-to-pet, so it is important to clean and treat any remaining pets in the home.
- Keep the cat’s bed and play area clean. Wash your cat’s bedding in the washing machine or by hand once a week. If your cat has a scratching post and resting area, keep them clean with a stain cleaner or fabric cleaner.
- Wash the cat’s toys in hot water and mild detergent. Mites can also live on cat toys, especially if they are made of fabric. Soak the toys in a bucket of hot water and mild detergent for 10-20 minutes to clean them.
- Clean your whole house regularly. Reduce the chances of mites in your space, and on your cat, by doing weekly house cleaning, vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting as needed. Vacuuming regularly is especially important if you have carpet, as mites can burrow and live in this material.
Adjusting the cat routine
If you plan to add a new furry friend to your home, make sure your vet examines him for mites and other parasites before entering your home. Kittens and puppies are especially susceptible to mites.
- If a pet has mites, treat the problem immediately and quarantine it until the parasites are gone. This will prevent the mites from spreading.
- Schedule regular vet checkups for mites. The best way to prevent mites is to catch them before they become a full infestation. Take your cat for annual vet checkups so your vet can examine his ears and treat any problems before they become severe. Your vet can also show you how to examine your cat’s ears at home so you can keep an eye on the problem.
- Keep the cat indoors as much as possible. Cats that spend a lot of time outdoors are more likely to get mites and other parasites. Try to keep the cat inside at all times, and only let him out occasionally in a controlled area. Most cats don’t mind staying indoors as long as they have plenty of room to rest or a play area to keep them occupied.
As we know that prevention is the best, I recommend administering selamectin pipettes to your cat as often as the veterinarian recommends.
Selamectin is a synthetic derivative of avermectin used to control fleas, adult ticks and mites in the ears of cats.
It is a topical solution that accumulates in the oils of the skin and in the hair follicles. It is absorbed into the body and circulates through the bloodstream. The effects of selamectin last for about 30 days, requires a prescription and can only be obtained by prescription from a veterinarian.
How to eliminate mites with treatment
Three steps are required to treat ear mites successfully:
- Treat the ears of all affected and susceptible pets.
- Treat the skin of all pets.
- Treat the indoor environment because the mite is capable of limited survival of pets
The entire treatment needs to last a minimum of three weeks.
Your vet will advise you on which miticidal products are suitable . There are several medications, topical selamectin and otic ivermectin, for the treatment of ear mites in pets.
No drug can penetrate the eggs or pupae, so treatment is aimed at killing adult and larval forms. Due to the length of the life cycle, the entire treatment needs to last a minimum of three weeks.
The vet may request to re-examine your pet to make sure the mites have been removed after the initial treatment has been done.
Why does my cat have recurring problems with ear mites?
If you’ve been diligently treating mites and find that your pet still has inflamed, itchy ears and is constantly shaking his head, the following could be happening:
- First, make sure the infection is actually caused by mites, not a bacterial or fungal infection.
- Second, be aware that bacterial and fungal infections can develop as a result of ear mites; You may have removed the mites, but now you may require treatment for a secondary ear infection.
- Third, were all the pets in the house treated? All pets must be treated at the same time or they may re-infect each other.
- Finally, if you are using a topical medication that requires daily application, consider switching to a single dose medication.
Can cat ear mites be transmitted to people?
It is a question that those of us who have cats living with us at home ask ourselves. They are very contagious and can be spread quickly between household pets. Pets that are outside are the most prone; however, humans can also carry the mites home on shoes or clothing.
Humans have been known to develop skin rashes, but in general they are highly unlikely to experience any symptoms as a result of a pet infected with ear mites. Therefore, the danger is for our pets, not for us.
Natural treatment against mites
Directly apply a mixture of garlic and olive oil.
- The antibacterial properties of garlic combined with the moisturizing effects of olive oil will provide a mild healing agent for the ears. In addition, the olive oil will eliminate any ear mites that the cat had at that time
- You must peel and mince the garlic cloves, mix it with the oil and leave that mixture for twelve hours. Then with a dropper you apply the mixture to your cat’s ears.
Direct application of Aloe Vera.
- Aloe Vera will give your cat the moisture and healing its ears need. You can use fresh or bottled Aloe Vera, this potent plant will prevent ear mites from returning.
- Apply Aloe Vera directly to the cat’s ears with a massage at the base.
Direct application of hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide).
- The hydrogen peroxide will help prevent further infections due to scratching the cat from ear mites. Also, it will clean any build-up of wax and / or debris in your ears.
- Soak a cotton ball in the hydrogen peroxide. Gently use the cotton ball inside the ears.
Apply white vinegar.
- The acidity of white vinegar will help remove dirt and debris from ear mites, as well as maintain a healthy balance in your ears. Any young or adult ear mites will die once they come in contact with the vinegar.
- Mix the vinegar with warm water to dilute. Take a cotton ball and gently massage the ears with this mixture.
- The natural properties of honey are wonderful to heal any wound or scratch caused by scratching. This is due to the high levels of antimicrobial and antibacterial agents present in honey. Direct application of honey will also suffocate the mites present in the ears and prevent further development of eggs or larvae.
- Use a cotton ball to clean the ear with honey, let it act for 15 minutes, then with a hot, damp cloth clean the honey from the ears.
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