How to check for ear mites in cats image

Do Cats Get Ear Mites | Signs, Symptoms & Treatment

Is your cat shaking its head, scratching its ears incessantly, and acting like her ears irritate? If your answer to this was a yes, then pet parents, it’s time for attention. This can be a plausible outcome of ear mites. While ear mites are not life-threatening, if there’s a delay in treatment or left untreated, they can cause bacterial infections. These bacterial infections can act as a catalyst in swelling the ears, resulting in partial or total hearing loss. The repeated scratching can also result in deep wounds.

All cat parents have to deal with ear mites at some point. While it is a familiar term for most of us, let’s have a deeper understanding of what ear mites are, how to check for ear mites in cats, their common symptoms, and most importantly, how to treat them.

What are Cat Mites?

As the name implies, ear mites are tiny mites that make their homes in the ear canal and sometimes the skin of cats. Though fairly common in cats, they can also be found in dogs and other domesticated animals like ferrets and rabbits. They are microscopic and appear as tiny white dots to the naked eye. Even though they are so small, they can be extremely pesky.

These parasites stick to the ear canal of cats and feed off the debris in the ear canal. They cause severe itching in cats and wander all over your cat’s body. The life cycle of an adult mite is for about two months, while the eggs take three weeks to hatch. The mites lay new eggs throughout their lifespan, and thus the cycle continues.

How Do Cats Get Ear Mites?

Mites are highly contagious, and direct transmission from other infected animals is the only reason your cat caught mites. Your cat could have contracted ear mites from your other infected pets, neighbourhood pets, or a kitty playdate! These mites are especially common in young kitten.

How to Check for Ear Mites in Cats?

Though ear mites are not visible to us, your cat’s behaviour and actions could tell about the presence of ear mites. If your cat has any of the signs mentioned below, then there’s a very high possibility that it is caught ear mites:

#1 Violent head shaking or excessive scratching

If your cat is shaking its head continuously and scratching it constantly, it might be because of the ear mites. The untreated ear mites in cats cause severe itching, which causes discomfort. They try to shake their heads to get rid of the debris and fluid from their ear canal.

#2 Dark-Coloured Discharge in Ears

As ear mites stimulate the wax-producing glands inside the ear canals, you could find the build-up of a black crusty layer inside the ear canal. The discharge is usually blackish-brown in color and is made of blood, wax, debris, and mites. It is usually dry and resembles coffee grounds. Sometimes, it is even coupled with a foul odor. However, discharge with an offensive smell can also be a symptom of other underlying diseases and infections.

#3 Hair Loss

The constant and severe itching from ear mites results in cat hair loss. Though ear mites usually affect the ears, hair loss can occur anywhere on the body, the head, the neck, and the tail (as a cat sleeps curled up) as they are equally vulnerable.

#4 Blistering Near Ears

If you find blisters near your cat’s ears, it results from scratching and could signal the presence of ear mites. This is not caused directly by mites but is an outcome of abrasion.


Though the signs mentioned above and symbols are common, you will have to take them to their vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

#1 Diagnosis through Otoscope

An otoscope is a handheld medical device used to examine the ear canal and eardrum. It has a light and a magnifying glass that views the ear canal and outer membrane. The vet will move the otoscope around your cat’s ears to confirm the presence of an ear mite infestation. This method can readily diagnose the presence of ear mites.

#2 Laboratory Tests

Another method to diagnose ear mites is running laboratory tests such as skin scrapes or tape tests on your cat. Your vet can also use the cat’s fur to identify the presence of ear mites.

#3 Collecting a Sample of Ear Debris

Alternatively, the vet can also use a cotton swab and collect a small sample of ear debris. It can then be mounted on a slide with mineral oil and used for microscopic evaluation. This method even helps in determining the species of the mite.

Ear Mite Treatment for Cats

Don’t know how to get rid of ear mites in cats? Fortunately, ear mites in cats are an easily treatable condition. Once your vet has diagnosed your cat and confirmed the presence of mites, they will prescribe you one of the many available medications. The prescribed medication will be based on the severity of the infection and your preference as the cat owner.

Usually, the medications include medicated ear drops or injections. The prescribed medication could be a one-time medication or might require repeated applications. Ensure to follow the dosage schedule prescribed by the vet strictly or you can also opt for home remedies for ear mites in cats.


If you have other pets at home, you should make sure to get them diagnosed, even if they aren’t showing symptoms. Even though ear mites are common in furry felines, treatment delays can lead to more secondary infections or damaged eardrums. More serious effects include plausible hearing loss.