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HELP! Could my (5) indoor-only cats have EAR MITES?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I'm new here. I have 5 older strictly-indoor cats. I've had them for years, all were strays I rescued in the past. They range in age from about 9 yrs old to 16 yrs old. As I said, they never go outside and they don't ever have contact with other animals, or even with people who have pets.

I'm concerned that they have Ear Mites but I can't for the life of me understand how indoor cats could get ear mites. I'm finding a bit of info online that says it's not impossible for indoor cats to get them but the info never seems to provide any explanation as to HOW an indoor cat could get them.

Here's the history...

About a week ago I noticed my cat Fuzzy was scratching a fair bit, around her ears, her neck, beneath her chin. Now she did this about 2 yrs ago and I took her to the Vet at that time and couldn't find anything. He suspected it was maybe something in the environment and told me to give her some Benadryl and if things didn't settle to bring her back and we'd pursue further investigations. Well things did clear up. To note, he did check her ears and no signs of anything funny. So a week ago she starts this again. I suspected that perhaps it was a new type of cat litter I'm using (scented)....or maybe it's the scented baking soda stuff I sprinkle in their litterboxes..........or maybe it's the Febreze I spray on the blankets, drapes, etc. So I vacuum real good, stop with the powder stuff. I feel bad for her so give her some Benadryl for a couple of days but with no relief! then my other cat Spookie starts with the scratching.

I've looked in their ears, I don't see what you'd typically see if ear mites were present; i don't see any dark brown/black discharge or gunk or grit. There's no odor to their ears.

Yesterday they barely scratched at all. today they're back at it and now my oldest cat Tigger, I've seen her scratch a few times (this is new)....to the ear area. I've checked her ears out, see nothing amiss. Today is a holiday so I can't get any of them into the Vet but will go tomorrow.

I plan to take 2 of the worst ones, Fuzzy and Spookie. I don't think I should have to take all 5 of them (god forbid!). If it's ear mites, which I know is very contagious to other cats/animals, surely one or both would be positive and then we'd just take steps to treat them all.

I can't think what else this could be? I've been washing all of their bedding and such, just to rule out this being some kind of allergic reaction to fabric softener I use on blankets, pillows, etc.

Sadly, my 2nd oldest cat Taco has a malignant tumor to the scruff of his neck (despite 2 previous surgeries to remove it, it returned back in September). If this is Ear Mites, I would want to use one of the 'one time" medications that you apply to their neck (eg: Revolution or Advantage) but with him, I'm leary about putting any kind of chemicals into his body (he's very healthy, despite his tumor)..........but I'd have to treat them all.

Does anyone have any thoughts? It's driving me nuts that I can't get them to the Vet today. I'll call first thing in the morning to get 2 of them in and checked out.

Has anyone ever had any "strictly indoor" cats get ear mites? how on earth would they get it?

And does anyone recommend one type of treatment over the other, in terms of safety? I've read some scary stories about Revolution causing seizures in some cats.............which would be best/safest - Revolution or Advantage? I don't want to use a product that you have to put directly into their ears. If it is ear mites, it would seem to me that it's beyond jsut their ears, judging by the fact that 3 of them are scratching under their chins and their necks so to me they need something more 'systemic" (like the topical application as opposed to the drops you put into the ears).

Many thanks for info you can provide.

Lisa and crew in Calgary!

PS - even though it would impossible, I did comb them all just to check for fleas and definitely no fleas or flea dirt.
post #2 of 17
YES all five could have ear mites ..HIGHLY contagious. My suggestion take one to the vet and get it varified and then do as directed
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yes, I know that ear mites are highly contagious --- but my question is............how in the world could strictly "indoor only" cats get ear mites? My understanding, and from I've read is, they get them from close contact with cats or dogs who have them.

My cats are strictly indoors. they never go outside.

They never come into contact with other cats or dogs.

They don't even come into contact with humans who have pets.

So that really was my question -- how on earth could indoor cats contract ear mites?
post #4 of 17
OK - I'm tired & half out of it today....but basically one or more of the cats are scratching at their ears - yet you see no "build-up" in their ears?
post #5 of 17
I had cats with ear mites before also and they never were outside either.
I was told my Coco had a terrible case but no other cats got it from her.
Now I found out after all these years it is not earmites.
Maybe your cats reacted to something you are using.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi,

No, I truly see NO build-up in their ears. I took a kleenex and gently wiped it inside the ears of the 2 who've been scratching the most, thinking it would be easy to see the classic dark brown/blackish gunk on it....but nothing, clean as a whistle. I have read, however, that an absence of gunk shouldn't be construed as the cat not having ear mites...so definitely, without a doubt, the first 2 who began scratching will go to the Vet as soon as I can get them in tomorrow morning..............but in the meantime I'm just trying to figure this out.

My Vet charges exorbitant prices and I don't want to walk out of there tomorrow, having dropped $500, only to be prescribed some kind of medication but not have any conclusive diagnosis. Ear mites should be pretty easy for him to diagnose either way, correct? He should be easily able to see them, if they're there, with his Otoscope, I would think? I was laid off from my job a couple of months ago and I have to spend my money wisely. I'll do anything for them but I can see him wanting to do all kinds of elaborate bloodwork and ear flushing and stuff..........($$$$). I will do anything that's necessary, I will never let my cats suffer............but I want to go in there somewhat informed and have a plan myself.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Mews2much........see, that's what I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of an assumption being made that it's ear mites when in fact it isn't, and then having to give them potent medication (revolution or Advantage) that they don't really need, and it still won't get to the root of the problem.

I've racked my brain to consider that perhaps it's something in the environment but what are the odds that 3 of them would react to whatever that is? The fact that 2 did, now the 3rd.....that seems to say to me that it's something non-environmental and that it's something that's contagious. I did see my big guy Taco scratch ONCE today.....but that could have just been nothing. I've not seen him scratch since. And my last cat Cleo, I've not seen her scratch at all. They all get along well and hang out together so I would expect that if it's something contagious, they'd all be exhibiting symptoms; particularly Taco, who's dealing with cancer, has diabetes (and immune system is likely a little lowered due to having started on Prednisone a week ago, for his tumor).

Mews2much, so what did it turn out your cat had?

I do use a lot of scented candles, room sprays, I spray a shot of Febreze on my wet laundry when I toss it into the dryer, etc. I use a lot of home fragrance oils, the kind you use with a tealight (it warms the oil); probably moreso over the past 4 weeks (I was given a bunch as a gift).

It was about ? 3-4 weeks ago that I used that carpet powder (with baking soda, but it's scented - you sprinkle it on carpet and vacuum it up).....and fearing that might have been the culprit (as the cats tend to sprawl out anywhere on the carpet), I've religiously vacuumed and vacuumed, daily (i have a really good central vac with tons of suction).

I just hope that the Vet will be able to conclusively rule out whether it's ear mites or not.............I hope it's that clear cut because I don't want to have to load them up with nasty medication (Revolution, etc) if it's not 100% needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mews2much View Post
I had cats with ear mites before also and they never were outside either.
I was told my Coco had a terrible case but no other cats got it from her.
Now I found out after all these years it is not earmites.
Maybe your cats reacted to something you are using.
post #8 of 17
Maybe they can swab the ears and look under a microscope and see what it is. I am glad your cats do not ahve the brown gunk.
Tell the vet you can not spend alot.
Coco still has nasty brown gunk in her ears and she is 16.8 years old.
I wonder if your cats have ear mites or something else causing them to itch.
post #9 of 17
Coco has some allergic reaction but her ears are still nasty.
It does seem weird all your cats are itching.
It can be the sprinkle stuff you used.
Just do not let the vet run the bill up.
Coco has had this since she was young.
The one thing that did help Coco was Depo Medrol shot but she can not have the shot anymore or pred.
I do not think your cats need advantage or anything like that.
You are really in a hard place with Taco because pred can cause Diabetes.
I was warned about that before Coco took it caused to her to have bladder problems.
It seems you help one problem and another problem gets worse.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi Mews2Much,

Taco already HAS diabetes (for the past 5.5 yrs) so there's not much risk that the Prednisone he's taking will cause it :-) It has made his blood sugar levels go up a little bit initially but I've adjusted his dose of insulin a bit and that's helped immensely. It only went up a wee bit (I use the little machine that human diabetics use to test his sugar level, twice a day, as I have for the past 5.5 yrs, which is how I have his diabetes so well controlled).

I'd not want to put any of the other cats on Pred or give them a Depo Medrol shot because I do know that corticosteroids can cause diabetes (sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent).

I would think, though, that a cat with ear mites would be scratching a LOT more than they do..............you'd think it would be incessantly, almost continuously, which isn't the case for the 2 who scratch the most.

If the Vet can confirm it's not ear mites, I will then assume it's something environmental and I'll have to slowly try to elminate possible causes. I did change their dry food 3-4 weeks ago but the odds of 3 of them developing itching due to it, to me that is too outlandish. It's very high quality dry food ($40 a bag!, has no grains, it's called "Go").

Hope I'll know more tomorrow. From what I've read, a vet should be able to tell very easily if a cat has ear mites in their ear canal.....while the mites aren't generally visible to the naked eye, a Vet should be able to see them with the special light he uses (the Otoscope), as it magnifies things. Here's hoping!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mews2much View Post
Coco has some allergic reaction but her ears are still nasty.
It does seem weird all your cats are itching.
It can be the sprinkle stuff you used.
Just do not let the vet run the bill up.
Coco has had this since she was young.
The one thing that did help Coco was Depo Medrol shot but she can not have the shot anymore or pred.
I do not think your cats need advantage or anything like that.
You are really in a hard place with Taco because pred can cause Diabetes.
I was warned about that before Coco took it caused to her to have bladder problems.
It seems you help one problem and another problem gets worse.
post #11 of 17
They should be able to tell if its ear mites.
It would be strange for all of them to have a reaction to the food.
post #12 of 17
If they have ear mites - there will be dark build-up in there. I would suspect possibly an ear infection more than ear mites. Left untreated, an ear infection can cause permanent balance issues.
post #13 of 17
They should be able to swab the cat's ear and look under a microscope to verify it's ear mites. For an office visit + a small fee (I think it was about $20 extra for Lola when I wanted to make sure she didn't have mites). There *can* be ear mites but no buildup from what I read online after Lola's initial checkup (which is why I had them swab and check at the next one I took her too).

Build up in the ear can be from other things, so assuming it is mites isn't good. My in-laws' cat had 2 different kinds of ear infections (bacterial in one ear, yeast in the other) but was treated for mites at a shelter (ouch!). A swab under the microscope is easy enough to verify.
post #14 of 17
It could be fleas!
post #15 of 17

I also have indoor only cats 4, and even tho your cats dont go outside mites can still come inside via you, on your shoes or things you bring in from outside. I got rid of the mites AND fleas 3 years ago by ordering cedar oil, which I have only been able to find thru the internet.  I wont use over the counter flea and tick meds because they have an ingreident in all of them that is poisionous.  It goes into the blood stream and to the organs that will eventually cause organ damage. After bathing them I rub in the diluted oil into their skin and dilate a little more of the oil with a little olive oil for their ears They hate the smell but! In a month or so I continue putting in a few drops of just olive oil into their ears every 3-4 months.   I also get a spray bottle and use the diluted oil to spray  lightly my carpets, under furniture window sills under mattress' (which they say also keeps bed bugs away) I give my cats hair cuts twice a year, in the springtime when they start shedding and in the fall when they start shedding their winter coats...therefore NO HAIRBALL THROWUPS. Ive been giving haircuts starting when they were kittens and now that they are grown they dont mind it at all. I also grow my own catnip that you can usually find in the garden centers to grow in your yard.  I clip a hand full of the leaves and stuff it into an old sock and boy do they have a ball! I also leave my outside shoes at the door where I come in as to not bring in mites or fleas.

post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran Roam View Post

I also have indoor only cats 4, and even tho your cats dont go outside mites can still come inside via you, on your shoes or things you bring in from outside. I got rid of the mites AND fleas 3 years ago by ordering cedar oil, which I have only been able to find thru the internet.  I wont use over the counter flea and tick meds because they have an ingreident in all of them that is poisionous.  It goes into the blood stream and to the organs that will eventually cause organ damage. After bathing them I rub in the diluted oil into their skin and dilate a little more of the oil with a little olive oil for their ears They hate the smell but! In a month or so I continue putting in a few drops of just olive oil into their ears every 3-4 months.   I also get a spray bottle and use the diluted oil to spray  lightly my carpets, under furniture window sills under mattress' (which they say also keeps bed bugs away) I give my cats hair cuts twice a year, in the springtime when they start shedding and in the fall when they start shedding their winter coats...therefore NO HAIRBALL THROWUPS. Ive been giving haircuts starting when they were kittens and now that they are grown they dont mind it at all. I also grow my own catnip that you can usually find in the garden centers to grow in your yard.  I clip a hand full of the leaves and stuff it into an old sock and boy do they have a ball! I also leave my outside shoes at the door where I come in as to not bring in mites or fleas.

 

Do NOT repeat NOT use Cedar oil on cats, or any other essential oil.  Cedar oil is very toxic to cats:

 

Quote:
Cedar Oil, also marketed as a flea treatment, is also highly toxic to cats. It has been found to be toxic orally, when absorbed through the skin and an irritant if the fumes are inhaled (if the fumes are concentrated enough it may be absorbed through the lining of the lungs in toxic quantities). It is irresponsibly marketed by Cedarcide as safe for pets, but COSHH and toxicology data indicates it is toxic. Claims supporting Cedarcide are highly biased and were written for dog treatments (dogs have very different and more efficient liver function than cats). They are advertising claims, not scientific claims and perpetuate the misconception tha natural means "safe".

 

http://www.messybeast.com/teatree.htm

 

You are correct that most OTC flea sprays and powders are toxic and/or ineffective, but Advantage, Frontline, Revolution and so on are safe for cats.

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by OrientalSlave View Post

 

Do NOT repeat NOT use Cedar oil on cats, or any other essential oil.  Cedar oil is very toxic to cats

 

 I really just want to re-iterate this. People think that because essential oils are natural, they are safe. 

Very, very few are safe to use non-diluted on exposed human skin. Many are contra-indicated for cats, even when heavily diluted. 

Even diluted, cedarwood is bad news if ingested, and that poses a big risk to cats (all of which OS has already pointed out).

 

I've seen the results of aromatherapy used on cats so this hits a nerve with me.

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