Ear Mites in Cats – Causes, Symptoms, and Everything You Need to Know

Ear mites are one of the frequent culprits behind discomfort in our feline friends’ ears. These minuscule parasites provoke intense itching and, without prompt treatment, can result in enduring harm. 

Find out more about the factors contributing to ear mite infestations in cats, along with recognising symptoms and effective treatments.

What are Ear Mites in Cats?

Ear mites are tiny, contagious parasites that cats often catch from close contact with other infected animals. These mites can jump from one animal to another and then crawl into the cat’s ears. Dogs and other pets can also carry and spread ear mites.

Since ear mites can survive for a short time outside a host, outdoor cats are more prone to getting them. This happens because they’re more likely to encounter environments or animals that are infested with these parasites.

How to Check for Ear Mites in Cats?

Identifying ear mites early is crucial for timely and effective treatment. One of the clearest indicators is a cat incessantly scratching its ears or shaking its head due to the discomfort caused by these tiny pests. 

Here’s what to look out for when checking for ear mites:

  • Dark, dry discharge: Resembling coffee grounds, this is often found within your cat’s ear canal.
  • Redness and swelling: The ears may appear inflammed and feel warmer than usual.
  • Visible scratch marks: Located on or around the pinna (the visible part of the ear).
  • Skin lesions: These may develop around the ear area due to intense scratching.

These signs are not exclusive to ear mites and could indicate other ear health issues such as bacterial infections, other types of parasites, or allergic reactions. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis before starting any treatment.

Diagnosing and Treatment for Ear Mites in Cats

cat at the vet

When it comes to diagnosing ear mites in your feline friend, a trip to the vet is essential. The vet may start by observing the signs during an ear examination, or they might need to take a swab to examine under a microscope for definite confirmation.

Treatment Methods

Spot-On Treatments

These treatments are generally less stressful than ear drops and include many flea control products that also target ear mites. If your vet recommends this method, it’s one of the simplest ways to combat the parasites.

Ear Drops

For severe infestations or discomfort, your vet might suggest ear drops specifically formulated to kill these ear mites and soothe inflammation. It’s crucial to apply these as directed to ensure they’re effective.

How Long Does It Take for Ear Mites in Cats to Recover?

Recovery from ear mites usually involves a straightforward treatment process. Most cats begin to show improvement within a few days of starting a prescribed topical treatment. However, the complete elimination of ear mites may take up to a month. During this time, it’s crucial for pet owners to meticulously follow their veterinarian’s instructions regarding ear cleaning and medication application.

To ensure a full recovery, a follow-up visit to the vet is recommended after the treatment course is completed. This visit confirms the total eradication of the ear mites and checks whether any further treatment is necessary.

Tips to Prevent Ear Mites in Cats

Preventing ear mites is key to ensuring your cat’s ears remain healthy. Regular application of topical flea, tick, and heartworm preventatives is an effective way to keep these parasites at bay. Additionally, cleaning your cat’s ears weekly can help prevent the buildup of wax and debris that might attract mites.

Since ear mites are extremely contagious, it’s important to isolate infested pets from healthy ones until the treatment has successfully eliminated the mites. Keeping cats indoors also significantly lowers their chances of contracting ear mites from other animals or from environments where these parasites may thrive.


  • Wai Ling


    Foodie at heart and (almost) always with a camera in hand. When she's not busy with work, you'll find her munching around Singapore or snapping pics in some cool new spot.


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