Parasites are painfully pesky for cats, leading owners to wonder how to get rid of them. From searching the web for the best home remedies for ear mites to rushing their cats to the vet, it can get confusing how to act accordingly. Parasites can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Using the knowledge your primary care veterinarian has is often the best course of action. Most cases of external parasites will be treated with a topical or oral medication, however, we recognize that these products may be intimidating to some and offer up a few at-home remedies. Let’s first look further at these parasites.
What are Ear Mites?
Ear mites are one of the most prevalent parasitic infestations that affect cats. Luckily, there are several remedies for ear mites in cats you can try at home. If you believe your cat has ear mites, it’s nothing to be overly alarmed about.
While humans are immune to many parasites, cats and dogs are perfect breeding grounds for these creatures. Ear mites are nasty little parasites that enjoy the environment inside of your cat’s ears. The ear canal is where these parasites thrive.
Ear mites are very contagious, especially to other cats and dogs, and are very common. The most frequent ear mite infestation in cats is Otodectes cynotis. Several ear mite medicines and websites also refer to it as Otodectic Mange.
These parasites feed on the debris inside of the ear. Ear mites will lay eggs in the ear canal, which have a gestation period of roughly two to three weeks. By week three, these mites are adults and ready to lay eggs themselves. Outdoor cats are much more likely to contract ear mites, but indoor cats can get them too.
These parasites love to infest your cat’s ears, but they can reproduce quickly and spread to the eyes, neck, armpits, and other warm dark areas. They cause inflammation in the ear, and your cat’s scratching can lead to further infection.
Cats that are infested will incessantly scratch at the ears and shake their heads. Some cats may even scratch to the point of pulling out chunks of hair and skin. Damage to the eardrums from secondary infections can occur in rare instances.
In extreme cases, some cats shake their heads to the point of creating an ear hematoma (the cartilage in the ear flap (pinna) separates and leads to a pocket of blood on the ear beneath the skin). Ear mites are more common in kittens and are easily passed to other animals.
Causes of Ear Mites in Cats
Ear mites can spread from one pet to another. Ear mites in cats make up more than half of all cat ear infections. It’s easy for a cat to become infested with ear mites if they have come into contact with another infested pet, played with contaminated toys, or have poor ear hygiene.
With this said, it’s more likely than not that your cat got these pesky parasites by coming into contact with another infested animal.
Outdoor cats are more likely to contract ear mites, but indoor cats aren’t immune to the issue. Large communal areas for pets, such as kennels, are breeding grounds for parasites like ear mites or fleas.
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Symptoms of Ear Mites in Cats
If your furry friend contracts ear mites, the symptoms will be very obvious. Your cat will be itching the ears, head, and neck constantly. This scratching can lead to chunks of hair loss and excoriations/raw spots that creates other infections.
Left untreated, the excessive scratching and licking from ear mites can lead to pain in cats. Head shaking typically accompanies the scratching as well. Ear mites can cause red, brown, or blackish crust in and around the ear. The mite debris and ear wax tend to look like coffee grounds. In extreme cases, ear mite infestations can affect hearing and balance.
If your cat is not displaying the visible signs of ear mites, but you still feel that something is wrong, you should notice their behavior. Untreated health issues can cause cats to misbehave or act differently than they usually would.
Is your cat scratching furniture for the first time or lashing out, even at you? These negative changes in behavior could indicate they have contracted ear mites or that something else is wrong with your cat. In this instance, a veterinary professional is the best next step to evaluate your pet.
In some instances, when stress or pain accumulates it can lead to aggressive behavior in cats. It’s important to note that excessive itching, hair loss, and behavioral changes can also be symptoms of other underlying health issues. When in doubt, you should always get a second opinion from a veterinarian.
Prevention of Cat Ear Mites
Prevention against ear mites is no easy task. Because of how easily these parasites spread, prevention is near impossible. The best thing an owner can do is be attentive.
Check your cat’s ears daily for inflammation, redness, irritation, or discharge and debris. Make sure to stay up to date on vet check-ups. A lower immune system will fall prey to parasites faster. Make sure to supply your cat with the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals every day.
Your cat’s ear should be a pale pink color, as long as there is no residue or odor. Your veterinarian may provide a pH-balanced ear cleanser to help decrease dryness and itchiness, as well as parasite prevention and medicine if indicated.
Never try to clean out your cat’s ear with objects like a Q-tip® unless instructed by a vet. You may puncture an eardrum or cause other damage.
Home Remedies for Ear Mites in Cats
Since ear mites are such a common cause, there are several home remedies to help owners with this affliction. The easiest method for you would be to get an ear miticide (medication that kills the mites).
Owners should thoroughly clean or throw out any bedding, pillows, or toys that their cat frequents. Peppering the carpets and furniture with a little baking soda is also recommended.
Miticide is an excellent home remedy for ear mites since it contains pyrethrins, which is a natural insecticide. When you purchase ear miticide, make sure you pick up the version made specifically for cats. Some products for dogs are not safe for your cat.
Owners should follow the directions on the miticide carefully. Massage the drops into your cat’s ears and clean away any residue remaining.
Most miticides take several doses to work because ear mites can continue to lay eggs even after treatment begins. Typically, it takes a few weeks of miticide use to be sure your cat no longer has any mites.
Your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-parasite medication which many times will work faster and can be less toxic than over-the-counter products. Ask your veterinarian about ear mite prevention and treatment options at your next visit.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is excellent for fighting infections. Mix a solution of equal parts warm water and apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle and shake it up. Apply to your cat’s hair and skin.
If your pet is not fond of water bottles, you can dip a cotton swab in the solution. Then, place the saturated cotton swab on your cat’s upper inner ear so that the solution slowly leaks down into the canal. Do not place the cotton swab directly into the ear canal. Repeat this ear mite home remedy once a day for two weeks.
Make sure the honey is organic. The pure product has medicinal properties. Owners can put three teaspoons of honey in a bowl and then dip a cotton swab in it. Apply the organic honey to the infected areas but do not drip the honey down the ear canal.
Owners can mix one teaspoon of honey with one cup of distilled or sterile water. Mix it up until the honey is dissolved and use that mixture to clean ear canals.
Dip the mixture in a cotton swab and apply it to the upper inner ear, allowing the honey water to drip into the ear slowly. Repeat this process once a day for ten days at home for an ear mite remedy to treat secondary infection your cat will thank you for later.
Garlic and Olive Oil
Garlic and olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties.. Owners can let 2-3 garlic cloves soak in olive oil, or mix garlic powder into the oil.
A pinch of garlic powder added to a teaspoon of olive oil is enough. Apply the mixture to the infected areas. This method should be repeated daily for at least ten days.
Aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial, making it one of the best plants to use against parasites. Owners can apply organic aloe vera to their cat’s ear.
Your cat is likely to lick some of it, but it’s safe to ingest and is even good for the digestive system. Repeat this aloe vera application directly to the ear daily for at least ten days.
Because of the natural components of these home remedies, they can safely be used in other areas of your cat. However, if your cat’s ear mites are spreading, the best thing to do is consult with a vet about how to better address the issue.
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Final Thoughts on Home Remedies for Cats With Ear Mites
Ear mites might be a common issue, but that doesn’t make them any easier for your cat. They will cause itchiness and inflammation that can lead to irritation scratching.
Some cats will tear chunks of their skin out from scratching too much, leading to nastier infections. If your cat has ear mites and other infections simultaneously, please contact a vet. That may be a sign of a far more significant underlying medical ailment.
If you judge that it’s just a contained infestation in the ear, try the home remedies listed above. Remember always to use organic products and never insert objects into your cat’s ear canal without a vet’s recommendation. Read more!