How Can I Treat My Cat’s Ear Mites?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have been treating my cat’s ear mites for six days now. I used Vitamin E 400 IU on a cotton ball, wipe it out, and leave some to soothe the irritation. But now her ears are red and have crusty stuff on them, and she’s acting sad. What do I do?

~ Heather

A cat with ear mites

Dark, crusty gunk in the ear is a sign of ear mite infection.

Siouxsie: Well, Heather, while there are home remedies for ear mites — and most sources recommend using olive oil or almond oil rather than Vitamin E oil — it sounds like your cat may be suffering from a more serious condition.

Thomas: Sometimes cats with ear mites develop secondary bacterial or yeast infections, which can cause just as many problems as the mites themselves.

Dahlia: Those infections can sometimes even cause permanent hearing loss if they’re not properly treated.

Siouxsie: So the first thing you need to do is take your cat to the vet in order to make sure that you are, in fact, dealing with ear mites rather than something else.

Thomas: The fact that your cat’s personality has changed and she’s acting sad, as you say, could be an indication that she’s in pain — and this makes a vet visit even more important.

Dahlia: If you’ve ever had an ear infection, I’m sure you know how much it hurts!

Siouxsie: When you go to the vet, he or she will take a swab of the gunk in your cat’s ears and examine it under a microscope for evidence of mites. If he or she finds them, you will be given ear drops to kill the mites and instructions on how to administer them.

Thomas: Your vet will also be able to determine if your cat has a yeast or bacterial infection and give you the medicine to treat that condition as well.

Dahlia: Veterinarian Dr. Laurie Huston has a brief but informative page on ear mite diagnosis and treatment at her website, which you might want to review.

Thomas: You’re doing the right thing by cleaning your cat’s ears with a cotton ball rather than a swab. If you use a swab, you can push the wax and mites further down into the ear canal, and possibly cause further damage.

Dahlia: Sometimes ear mites can “camp out” on the skin around your cat’s ears and even get on her claws if she’s doing a lot of scratching. Because of this, some vets recommend a full-body treatment with an insecticide or using a spot-on flea/tick/mite treatment.

Siouxsie: Ear mites are highly contagious between animals, so if you have other pets in your home, they should be treated as well.

A graphic representation of the ear mite life cycle

The ear mite life cycle

Thomas: The ear mite’s life cycle last three weeks. It starts when the mite lays an egg, which hatches in four days. Three to 10 days after hatching, the six-legged larva develops into the protonymph stage. Three to five days after that, it molts into the next stage, at which point it attaches to an adult male mite and, if the new mite is female, she becomes fertilized and begins to lay eggs.

Dahlia: Because the life cycle lasts three weeks, treatment must be continued for the entire life cycle in order to eradicate the mites.

Siouxsie: When it comes time to give the medication and clean the ears, you want to be sure to do it properly so you don’t cause extra damage. For those of you who haven’t done this before, here’s a video from the staff of Battersea Cats and Dogs Home on how to administer ear drops and ointments to a cat:

(In a reader? Watch the video here.)

Thomas: So, Heather, we hope we’ve been able to help out a little bit. Good luck to you and your kitty.

  • Catherine J Fusco

    My “Girlie” is 3 I found her outside in the woods she was left outside everday by her “X” owners They never answered any Posts online in the same community nor did they pay attention to the Bulletine on the Mail area {Unless they stopped getting their mail]one would have to be blind or just didn’t care which was the end result you see the girl worked so all daymy Girlie was left outside when she came in my home she slept for 10 hrs having been sleep deprived! I thought she was dead! She still jumps when I touch her no doubt still thinking of the discomfort while attempting to sleep outside,any movement or animal would have aroused her..
    RE:”Ear Mites “Question:What symptoms did your cat have because my Girlie often rubs her right ear on anything she’s around BUT she doesn’t do this often nor does she stay up crying however she cries for anything spoiled as I am here 24/7 unless out for 5 hrs 2wice amonth she sleeps when I am gone so no worry I am hoping your cat is fine I sent for “ZYMOX” at phone #1800petmeds[.com]I will pick it up tomorrow Oct 5th!! ZYMOX kills bacteria good to have this at home it’s got “HYDOCORTISONE” all the people at 1800petmeds use this!! I know Girlie doesn’t have Ear MItes but still she winced & sqeeeked after I put alcohol swab around it barely touching the Right Ear Mites my frineds sister is a “VET-TECH” a VET TECH SAVED MY RUSTIE’S LIFE URINARY STONE HE HAD IN 1995 only one he was my 1st cat 89-03 My Beloved baby is Buried w/ dignity right on my property not wrapped in a blanket & placed in a hole as many pet ownwers do I believe the Soul lives on but human nature dictates we still have the innate need to respect what we embraced having been their body {AND SOUL} if we all thought that way we’d have no cemetaries would we? Some people are hypocrites! their devoid of any & all “Spirituality” so they try to justify their act saying “it’s just the body””meanwhile they could care less as long as the “body” is wrapped in a fine blanket!
    QUESTION: #1-Can you tell me if my cat is not crying ,& she sleeps regulary & there’s nothing going on w/ her irinary tract & all is good I must know if Ear Mites Symtoms would show a definte change in your cat— that she’d cry at the slightest touch near her ear— because she’s not acting this way II think ZYMOX will do the trick I do not believe my Girlie has Ear Mites… rather an irratation or just needs to be cleaned BUT wouldn’t we know? I would know if she wwre suffering outloud right?
    QUESTION # 2-
    Can you tell me while the Vet has this same medicine & while you know what the problem already is from the past that we cannot “aquire” the right stuff ourselves or they try to tell you{the secretary at the desk Vets Office tells you} .”.it’ may be something else” why can’t we buy what we know we need from a past issue..let;s face it I know we need professional help re Our pets but we don’t always need them when we already know or found out from a Vet Tech or a friend who was familiar w/ it YES I LOVED THIS SITe & THE STORY WAS WHAT I NEEDEd TO KNOW TOo I PRAY I AM NOT WRONG BUT ZYMOX IS STILL GREAT TO HAVE AT HOME PLEASE LET THE POSTER KNOW RE:EAR MITES CANNOT RECALL HER CAT’S NAME BUT THE ADVICE WAS INTELLEGENt CONCISE & CARING I’VE LOOKED FOR SUCH A SITE BUT WAS UNHAPPY W/ ESPECIALLY UNSUBSCRIBED “TO “ABOUT.COM” THEY’RE COMPLICATED! THEY NEVER LISTENEd TO MY ALTERNITIVE RE BI-POLAR MED “SERENITY” AT SERENITY created by a German Psysisist,Scientist MD I tried to tell them about my cat’s issues on their CAT SITE & they never answered me they also ignored my previous info re:Bi-Polarall they do is talk “about”MED’S {FDA} TYPE SO THEY IGNORED URGENT INFO RE:LITHIUM’S TOXIC-EFFECTS RATHER “SERENITY”HAS HELPED HUNDREDS {TESTIMONIALS} SORRY ABOUT THIS AVENUE I TOOK YOU GUYS TO BUT I WILl OFFER MORE EDUCATED INFO NEXT TIME! HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR CAT IS SUFFERINg REALLY IN PAIN IF SHE DOESN’T CRY & SHE CONTINUES TO SLEEP/ THANK YOu SO MUCH FOR YOUR PATIENCE I”LL NOT TALK ABOUT HUMAN ISSUES AGAIN BUT HAD TO TELL YOu THAT IT’s NOT EASY TO FIND SUCH GOOd EASY INTELLEGENT SITES FOR PETS!

  • Catherine J Fusco

    Will I get an infection or bumps when my cat licks my face,I take care of my face I use “Oil of Olay” everynight but each time she crawls on my chest [she’s 3 yrs old] she licks the Left side of my cheek– I have to {forced to?} I know I shouldn’t feel as if I am being forced but she has to get out of that habit ..Should I place saran wrap over the Left side of my face to make her stop? Each time I have to wile off my face cream.. Please Help Me Thank You! Catherine Jennifer Fusco

  • Pavel

    I was at a vet and he decided to give it an injection. It cost about 3 USD so I feel quite uneasy about it. Have you heard anything about solving it this way? He said it is was primarily use for livestock, but cats & dogs do not have problems with that !

  • lutwin cavalles

    crazy cat people here!