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Ear Mites and Mite Eggs In Cat EarsUpdated 10 months ago

Ear mites are the first thing to look for on ear swab samples. Assume treatment is needed if any ear mites or their eggs are detected in your cat’s ear samples. 

Ear mites don’t always cause signs of ear scratching or head shaking, but when they do the itch can be intense and lead to harmful infections from bacteria and/or yeast. The ear discharge from heavy ear mite infestations is often dark brown to black and sometimes crusty/crumbly. Mites can multiply FAST and scratching from the irritation and infection they cause can lead to hair loss or hot spots around the ears or neck. Be aware that ear mites are easily contagious to other cats, dogs, and ferrets. 

Fortunately, transmission to humans is very rare. If detected, the next step should be a physical exam of your cat’s ears by your veterinarian who can prescribe treatment for your cat and any other at-risk pets in your household. There are many effective on-label and off-label medications (e.g., selamectin, fipronil, thiabendazole, fluralaner) that vets use to clear these infestations. Some are applied topically in the ears and others onto the surface of the skin. 

There are also several over-the-counter treatments for ear mites of cats that contain a pesticide called pyrethrin. Apply carefully (correct dosage and frequency) based on your cat’s size and age, as some cat products are NOT approved for kittens. Be aware that PYRETHRIN products are TOXIC TO CATS at too high a dose (causing tremors, seizures, or death), so never use a DOG ONLY pyrethrin product on a cat or kitten!

Click here to learn more about ear mites in cats and kittens.

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