Parasitic ear mites are contagious, and your cat only has to come into contact with an infected cat to become a host. If ear mites are left untreated, they can begin to colonise in other parts of your cat's body. Additionally, ear mites can make your cat's ears feel so itchy they will scratch until they damage the inner ear, which can impair their hearing. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for ear mites in cats:
Common symptoms of ear mites include the following:
Diagnosis And Treatment
Your veterinarian will use an otoscope with a magnifying lens to examine your cat's inner ears. The vet may be able to see the mites with the otoscope but will often have to take a sample of your cat's skin cells to confirm the presence of mites. The sample will be obtained with a soft swab and won't cause your cat any discomfort. The inflammation caused by an ear mite infestation can leave your cat susceptible to developing a secondary bacterial infection in their ears. Your vet can take a sample of your cat's blood to check their inflammatory markers, which will be raised if their body is fighting an infection.
If your cat has ear mites, the mites will have laid eggs. Treatment involves eradicating both the adult mites and eggs with a topical anti-parasitic. You'll need to apply the prescribed ointment daily for a few weeks, and due to ear mites being contagious, any other cats in your home should be pre-emptively treated.
Ear mites are often found on soft furnishings in the home of a cat with mites, so while your cat is undergoing treatment, you should thoroughly clean your home. Your regular cleaning products will do just fine, but it's advisable to clean more frequently until your cat gets the all clear from your vet. Put curtains and any removable cushion covers through a warm wash cycle, change bedding and hoover mattresses as often as you can manage.
You can minimise the discomfort caused to your cat by ear mites by being vigilant and ensuring they are examined by your vet at the first sign mites have colonised their ears. Prompt treatment can also allow for a shorter course of treatment, which is better for your cat, as all prescription medications can cause side effects.
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