Grey cat with blue eyes.

Cat’s Ear Mites

Otodectes cynotis is the mite that most commonly inhabits the ear canals of cats. These tiny parasites, which are transmitted by close contact with other infected animals, live on the skin surface within the ear and feed on body fluids.

Their presence irritates the glands lining the ear canal, leading to an increased cerumen production. Secondary infections with the Malassezia yeast are not uncommon, leading to the brown, crusty discharge so often seen with ear mite infestations.

In isolated cases, intense allergic reactions to ear mites can occur, causing severe inflammation and secondary infection. Diagnosis of an ear mite infestation is confirmed by identification of the mites directly on otoscopic exam or through a microscopic examination of an ear swab.

Treatment involves the use of medications containing antiparasitic compounds, such as pyrethrins, rotenone, ivermectin, or thiabendazole. Mineral oil has also been employed as a home remedy for killing mites by suffocation.

Since secondary yeast infections are commonly found with ear mite infestations, an antiyeast medication should be used concurrently with antimite preparations. Ear mites can be difficult pests to eliminate. Depending on the medication used, daily treatment for 3 to 4 weeks might be needed to ensure a complete kill.

All animals in the household, regardless of whether they are exhibiting signs of infestation, should be treated at the same time.

In addition, to prevent reinfestation from the haircoat, an insecticidal spray or shampoo should be used at least twice during the treatment period.