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Ear Mites in Cats: The Good, the Bad, and the Itchy

May 2nd, 2017 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Simba, the cat, eyes the camera warily after scratching her ear.

First, the good news! Ear mites in cats are not as common in Colorado as in other parts of the country.

But, yes, your cat can still get them in the Castle Rock area.

We’ve put together some helpful information to introduce you to the wonderful world of ear mites in cats.

And if you live in Castle Rock or Denver, you’re always welcome to give our veterinarians a call: (303) 688-3757.

Our vets tend to see cases of ear mites when a new cat is ntroduced to a home.

How cats get ear mites

Cat ear mites are tiny parasites that get into your kitty’s ear canal – typically through direct contact with another infected cat.

Mites are very contagious.

Ear mites prefer cats as their “hosts.” While ear mites can affect dogs too, they’re much more common in cats.

In our Castle Rock veterinary clinic, we’ve noticed there tend to be two reasons that local cats get ear mites. You:

  • Introduce a new kitten or cat into your home. Your new kitty has ear mites and infects the other cats in your household. (We see this most often with families that have new cats that formerly lived outdoors or on ranches.)
  • Have a cat that spends a lot of time outdoors with other cats.

This striped cat scratches his ear. His owners wonder whether he has ear mites.

Ear mite symptoms in cats

Ear mites are almost too small to see. They’re about the size of a pinhead.

Rather than looking for the parasites, watch your cat for the following symptoms. Your cat may:

  • Be scratching at her ears more than usual.
  • Be shaking her head frequently.
  • Have red, swollen ears.
  • Have debris in her ear. Often times, it’s dry, crumbly and black. (These are the ear mites’ droppings.)

It’s worth noting that there are other health issues that have similar symptoms to ear mites.

For example, it’s possible your cat may have an ear infection instead.

It’s important to get the diagnosis right because treatment for ear mites is different than treatment for a bacteria-caused or yeast-caused ear infection.

Lucy, the gray cat, has ear mites and hasn't been feeling like herself.

How to treat ear mites in cats

Ear mites are an issue you want to address quickly:

  • Your cat is likely very uncomfortable.
  • Ear mites can cause damage to your cat’s ears if left untreated.
  • Your cat is highly contagious and can be a source of infection to other animals.

When you bring your cat into our veterinarians, we’ll do an exam and check for mite debris.

We’ll typically run a “cytology” — a quick lab test to confirm that mites are the issue.

There are several ways you can treat ear mites in cats. The most common method is a topical treatment you put in your cat’s ears.

Your cat’s mites should clear up in four to six weeks.

We know you’re eager to have your feline friend feeling healthy again!

Learn more about ear mites in cats

To learn more, check out this article on cat ear mites from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

 Is your kitty having ear issues?

Let’s make your cat comfortable. If you live in Castle Rock or the Denver area, call us at 303-688-3757 or:

Book a visit here 


Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on ear mites in cats. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call.)

© 2017, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

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