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How Do Cats Get Ear Mites

Updated: August 9, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

Cats seem so independent and the word goes around that their purring might have healing properties, but that doesn’t mean they are completely protected from infections and diseases. One such infection is with parasites like fleas and ear mites.

Yeah, you might have heard of fleas — but ear mites? What are those? How do cats get ear mites?

It doesn’t matter if they live indoors or outdoors, sometimes cats get ear mites and that’s not a pleasant experience, as those almost invisible creatures can cause extreme scratching or head shaking and even more serious problems if left untreated, as bad as loss of hearing.

What are Ear Mites

Ear mites are pesky little parasites, invisible to the human eye, that live in the ear canal and feed on the wax, oils and dead skin cells in a cat’s ear. They’re common parasites, they live around 3 weeks and can reproduce, prolonging a cat’s infection.

Symptoms of Ear Mites

Most signs that show that a cat has ear mites are extreme scratching and shaking of her head in the attempt to get rid of the itchiness caused by those tiny creatures.

Another visual cue is a cat’s ears being filled with black dirt-like debris. Other more advanced symptoms include scabs, redness or hair loss around the ears, and even inflammation of the ears.

How Do Cats Get Ear Mites

The most common cause of infection with ear mites is getting in direct contact with another animal that has them, especially another cat. Ear mites are found more often than not in outdoor cats, and they’re affected more than dogs. Younger animals are also more prone to getting them than adult ones.

Though direct contact between a healthy cat and an infected one is the most common way for ear mites to be transmitted, it’s not the only one, as they can also be found in the house or on the bedding of an infected cat. So if a healthy (or a cured) cat is laying in the places where an infected cat has been, there’s always the danger of getting infected too, therefore it’s wise to clean the bed linen or the blankets where an infected cat has previously been sitting.

The most common parasite is Otodectes cynotis. Since it’s invisible to the naked eye, a veterinarian consults under microscope to confirm or invalidate any supposition of your cat being infected with ear mites.

Can You Get Them?

While ear mites can be dangerous for cats, that’s not the same for us humans, as the parasites can’t survive enough on our bodies, therefore we don’t get long-term infections – if any at all. So don’t get too worried for yourself when you spot an infection, but do help your lovely little furry friend. He’ll be grateful.

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