The most usual mite to infest cat's ears is the Otodectes Cynotis. This tiny (around 4mm,) eight legged parasite is in fact not exclusive to felines and can migrate from animal species to animal species.
There are several signs that indicate if a cat is infected with these parasites. Mites are extremely small and generally cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Your vet will probably use an otoscope (illuminated magnifier,) to visually confirm the presence of the cat ear mites, but there are many other clues.
Ear mites can infest a cat's ears in their tens of hundreds.
The activity of these tiny parasites naturally causes great irritation, so an infected cat will frequently be shaking her head, twitching her ears and/or scratching vigorously around her ears.
This persistent and intense scratching can result in damage to the outer ear, swelling and hair loss.
Some older cats, who have suffered many infestations of ear mites, may not show any signs of irritation because they have built up an immunity.
It is essential that treatment is still carried out however.
The other tell-tale symptoms are deposits of dark reddish brown, or black, specks of waxy debris (formed from ear mite waste and dead tissue,) on the inside of the cat's ears. This debris can sometimes be seen flying out of the ears when an infested cat shakes her head.
Your cat may yowl with pain when you touch her infected ears and quite often there is an unpleasant smell from the ears of an infected cat.
Over time the ear canal can become obstructed and if it does, the result is hearing loss.
Ear mites are spread very easily through close contact, from cat to cat, from dog to dog, and from dog to cat to other pets.
It can be seen that if an infestation is discovered on one animal, then all animals in your home must be inspected for the presence of mites.
If your cat is treated for ear mites and another of your pets is infected and remains untreated, the mites can easily migrate straight back to your treated pet.
Felines that live in crowded conditions, rescue centers and catteries etc., are most at risk of cat ear mites.
Infestation is often found in feral colonies too.
Kittens and younger cats are likely to suffer greater infestation than older cats are.
Infected mom cats can pass the mites on to their kittens.
Feline ear mites can exist away from an animal host for a short period. This means that it is possible that your cat can become infested even without direct contact with an animal with ear mites.
Just passing through a territory that has recently been visited by an infected animal could mean your cat being contaminated.
Before any treatment can be applied, your cats ears need to be cleaned meticulously. All the wax and debris must be cleaned out otherwise any remaining particles can shield the mites.
Ear cleaning is best carried out by, repeated, g-e-n-t-l-e flushing. It is not recommended to use Q tips/cotton buds as debris could be pushed further into the ear and incorrect use could damage the inner ear.
Veterinarians are very skilled at cleaning cat's ears.
There are several medications for the treatment of ear mites in cats, some of which are available over the counter.
However a visit to the veterinarian will get confirmation that your pet does indeed have an infestation of mites.
Mites are a very common cause of ear infection in cats, but if you were to administer an ear mite treatment and your cat was suffering from some other ear infection, then that infection would remain untreated.
These mites are often found outside of the ear on other parts of the cat's body, such as around the head and hindquarters.
Therefore it is best that all the cat's fur is treated because if the ears alone are treated, the mites left on the fur will simply make their way back to the ears.
Your vet is best able to prescribe the most effective treatment for your cat's ear mites and may recommend a follow up visit after the course of treatment is complete.
Ear mites are very distressing for a cat and the irritation from an infestation can cause your cat to harm herself. Treatment can be prolonged, depending on the method used, however providing that the condition is caught in time, treatment is usually successful.