What are Ear Mites?
Mites are microscopic white insects that might be found on a cat's skin or inside its ears. Ear mites are a specific kind of this insect, which infects cats' ears. Their Latin name is "Otodectes Cynotis" and they are quite common. There are other kinds of mites that can affect a cat's skin and these are often referred to as mange. In this article we will discuss ear mites infections in cats and how to treat them.
The mites themselves are invisible to the naked eye. A veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis by taking a sample from the infected area and examining it under a microscope. You may sometimes be able to observe the mites at home by taking a bit of the "dirt" in the cat's ear, placing it on a dark surface, and looking at it through a high-quality magnifying-glass or a simple microscope.
Symptoms of Ear Mites in Cats
Ear mites not only generate irritation and scratching, but also increase the secretion of earwax, which can make the inside of the ear look dirty. The cat then tends to scratch its ears and shake its head. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections may be created in the ears as well.
Stray cats and kittens are especially susceptible to ear mites. Ear mites are very infectious between cats and dogs - cats in pet shops are often infected with the parasite.
Treatment of Ear Mites in Cats
Mites should only be treated after a veterinarian has made an expert diagnosis. If there are no mites, using anti-mites preparations may aggravate an infection in the ear. Mites on a cat's skin are treated by applying a medical shampoo under a veterinarian's supervision.
Ear mites are treated with special eardrops, which can be obtained from your veterinarian and in some pet shops. It is very important to apply the drops in the ears when they are clean, so that the drops affect the mites directly. Before the drops are administered, you should clean the outer part of the ear, using a piece of cotton wool dampened with a special solution for cleaning cats' ears. The folds of the outer ear can be cleaned using Q-tips, soaked in the same solution.
Note: Never insert the cotton bud (on a Q-tip or otherwise) inside the inner parts of the ear.
Once the ear is clean, you should put several drops of the anti-mite medication into each ear. The precise dosage and frequency should be set by your veterinarian. The cat will immediately try to shake its head. In order to keep the drops from being expelled, the cat should be held firmly at this point and the ear should be held closed and gently massaged for several seconds, so that as much of the medication as possible gets deep down inside. A bit of the stuff mixed with remains of the "dirt" may still be expelled from the ears, so don't wear your best clothes for this procedure!
If you find that your cat reacts violently - the medication often stings a little - you can use a heavy towel to immobilize the legs against the cat's body. This will save you from being scratched. It also helps to soothe the cat with your voice throughout.
Mites can be transmitted from cats to dogs. If there are other cats and/or dogs in the house, they should also be examined for mites and treated simultaneously.
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