Otodectes cynotis, simply known as ear mites, are common and rather mild external parasite infection in cats. However, this may complicate when the pet has an immune hypersensitivity reaction, which may result in an intense irritation in the ear. Scratching is the most common reactions cats do when infected. However, cats may shake their heads as well, and if done intensely, it may cause pooling of blood in the ear due to breakage of a blood vessel, otherwise known as haematoma. This is highly contagious and may affect cats of any age.
There are two species of mites that cause ear infections to cats; these are:
Besides infecting cats, this mite species can also infect dogs, foxes, as well as ferrets.
This species of mite infects most commonly the body and sometimes the ears of the cat.
Demodex, on the other hand, is another mite that may cause skin infections in areas of the head and around the ears, but this mite does not cause any infections in the ear canal.
Symptoms and Types
- Itching/scratching of the ears, neck, and head.
- Excessive scratching of the ears as well as around the head.
- Scratches and abrasions on the back side of the ears.
- Thick reddish/brownish or black scab in the outer ear.
- Coffee ground-like bumps in the ear canal.
- Crusting and scale on the neck, tail, and rump.
- Shaking of the head and ear twitching.
To diagnose the infection, your vet will conduct the following:
- A complete physical examination along with a standard lab test, such as:
- Complete blood count
- Chemical blood profile
- Electrolyte panel
- Urine analysis
- Dermatologic exam, wherein scrapings of the skin will be taken to the lab for analysis.
- Use an otoscope to check into the ear canals of the cat.
In order for your vet to accurately rule out the problem, you have to contribute as well. You must provide the vet a thorough health history of your cat, along with the onset of the symptoms. You should also disclose if your cat spends time outdoors or has constant contact with other animals.
Treatment and Prevention
The cat’s ears must be thoroughly cleaned with an ear cleaner that is specifically made for cats; this will be used to clean out debris in the cat’s ears before the application of topical treatment. Since cats usually sleep with their tales curled up near their faces/heads, you have to make sure that you also clean the tails. Ear mite parasiticide must be used for seven to ten days in order to eliminate mites and eggs. To eradicate ectopic mites, the application of flea treatments is advised.
Since this infection is incredibly contagious, all the animals/pets living in the same household must be treated. The environment must also be cleaned thoroughly as mites cannot survive from being away from an animal’s body. Additionally, ear mites can stick onto beddings and toys, so these should be washed as well. Hot water and detergent are thought to be effective.
Your vet may recommend a change in your cat’s diet in case he or she has ear mites. Your vet may suggest a therapeutic hypoallergenic cat food to aid in limiting the cat’s exposure to possible allergens.
Also, another way to potentially prevent ear mites is to regularly check your cat’s ears. You may be able to catch an outbreak of ear mites before it starts to affect the other animals living in the same household.
Know more about preventive measures to different cat health concerns here!