Last updated: October 12, 2016
My family and our close relatives are all pet lovers, but we mostly have cats. In fact, my cousins have over more than 20 cats living in their home. They have cats of all shapes and sizes. They have cats in their different life cycles, such as kittens, adult cats, as well as senior cats. Most of their cats are spayed or neutered, so that they will no longer further increase in number, as cats tend to have a number of kittens when they breed.
Of course, not all of their cats stay at their house all the time, most of them actually roam free around the neighboring streets. Having as many cats as they do, this is practically unavoidable and a bit more convenient for them to have most of the cats stay outside. However, this also means that their cats are easily susceptible to the numerous dangers of the outside world. Aside from the fact that some of their cats get lost at times or even stolen, there is also that tendency for them to acquire diseases and infections. Their outdoor cats are also carriers of numerous parasites that they have gotten from the outdoors.
What are Ear Mites?
One such parasite is what is commonly known as ear mites. There are many kinds of ear mites, but the most prominent of them all is what’s scientifically named, Otodectes cynotis. As the name suggests, ear mites are parasites that infect the ears of cats. Most often however, they cannot be seen by the naked eye since they are microscopic. This means that it would take a microscope for humans to see them.
Like most parasites, ear mites thrive in the warm and dark environment of a cat’s ear canal. This is where ear mites feed on the debris of the cat’s skin, cell fluid and their blood. Although they are microscopic, cat owners would easily be able to identify whether their cat has ear mites or not. This is because when a cat does have ear mites on their ears, they would have dark brown crusty specks on the inside of their ears, not to be mistaken with the usual dirt that gets accumulated in the hairs of a cat’s ear.
Symptoms of Ear Mites
Aside from the visual sign of ear mites, another more obvious sign of a cat having them is when they keep on scratching their ears, which is not limited to the inside of their ears, but also includes excessive scratching on the back of their ears. The sharp claws of cats would usually result to bleeding from open wounds of their scratching and can even cause scabs and patches to appear around that area. The presence of ear mites can also trigger an unpleasant odor from the cat’s ears. Cat owners would often find cats with ear mites shaking their heads, or favoring one ear than the other, and tilting their head to one side more than the other.
Causes of Ear Mites
Ear mites are parasites that usually transfer from one animal to another. This is why cats that are living with other cats, dog,s and any other pets who love to go outdoors are easily infected with this parasite. Although humans are safe from this parasite, all pets in the household are in danger of getting ear mites as soon as one of them gets it, as contact from one animal to another is constant and inevitable. It is also easily transferrable from surfaces already infested with these pesky parasites, such as pet beds.
Although most cats are prone to get the parasite, outdoor cats and kittens are usually the ones that carry this menace, since once a kitten is ready to leave their mother, they will start going outside and explore the big outdoors. Ear mites are the type of parasites that also breed very quickly and mature in a matter of 21 days, during which time a cat must be festering with hundreds, and even thousands of the itchy parasites.
Treatment of Ear Mites
It may seem that having ear mites is just an itchy episode, but living with the parasite can actually make way for more serious complications for cats. The incessant scratching and head shaking can rupture blood vessels or what is scientifically known as aural hematoma, a condition which requires a surgical procedure to cure. Of course, the presence of ear mites will also lead to serious skin infections for cats, not just on their ears, but on other parts of their body as well since ear mites can travel from a cat’s ear to a cat’s body in a matter of no time.
Serious parasitic infestation like this calls for the immediate attention of a medical expert, a veterinarian who will be better able and equipped to inspect a cat’s ear canal with an auroscope and examine a cat’s ear wax for ear mites through their microscope. The vet will also be able to prescribe cat owners the right medication to get rid of these parasites in their cat’s ears.
Treating a cat of its ear mites involves mainly cleaning their ears for the first part and then applying the recommended ear drops after. During this procedure, it is best to use cotton balls and cotton buds to get into the inside of your cat’s ears. As cat owners know very well, cats are finicky creatures that will most likely resist the treatment. It is therefore, in their best interest that a cat owner enlists the help of another family member or a close personal friend to hold the cat snugly in place, in order to avoid any untoward accident in such a sensitive area of their body.
Prevention of Ear Mites
The best way to prevent these parasites infesting a cat’s ears is to keep indoor cats indoors, and outdoor cats outdoors. This also includes other pets such as dogs. Although it will be a challenge to keep cats and other pets away from the outdoor parts of the house, such as in the garden, this can lessen the chances of the parasite spreading to other animals in the house. Of course, constant cleaning and observation of the cat’s ears is also a must!
Issues such as these can be quite a surprise for most people, who think that it’s a breeze to have cats of your own. In reality however, people who own cats are very much like human mothers that have to be very thorough and careful about their babies, especially when things go wrong. It takes a lot of time and dedication to care for a cat, but most of all it takes a lot of love and understanding to help them through thick and thin.