Categories: Zoonotic Diseases

Are cat ear mites contagious to humans?

Theoretically or technically cat ear mites are contagious to humans because they can crawl out of a cat’s ear canal onto a person who is handling the cat. However, it hardly ever happens and if it does the mite will be brushed off or fall off. It is not a human health issue. It never has been. They “almost never” infect humans.

Cat ear mite picture. Link to the clinic which kindly provided the photo. It is published her with their permission.

Cat ear mites live in the ear canal and feed on skin and debris. The reason why ear mites are highly contagious among cats is because they leave the ear canals and travel over the cat’s body.

This leads to another other question, “Are ear mites contagious to other cats?” and the answer must be a resounding, yes. In homes where there is more than one cat who get along well, and are in close contact, ear mites might transfer from one to the other.

Two extra points need to be quickly made. Ear mites are common in domestic cats and they are extremely distressing. It is quite easy for a cat guardian to overlook an infestation. Cats will suffer the acute discomfort without apparent complaint. They can cause secondary bacterial infections and an allergic reaction. A cat may shake her head, paw at her head and scratch her ears injurying herself. The first point is that it is a serious health problem.

The second is that an infested cat must be quickly treated by a veterinarian. Please don’t try and do a home treatment without seeing a vet first as she needs to identify them. Home treatment could make matters worse. Other ailments can be complicated by using medications for ear mites.

The Latin, scientific name for ear mites is Otodectes cynotis. They are tiny parasitic insects. They are like microscopic spiders. In a strict sense cat ear mites are a zoonotic disease.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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