Home treatment for cat ear mites

Treating your cat’s ear mites is possible at home provided (a) you do it in conjunction with veterinary advice to first positively identify ear mites as the cause of the health problem and (b) your vet has examined the cat and determined that the ear drums are intact and (c) you clean your cat’s ears in a very specific way BEFORE treating the eat mites which means NOT using ear buds stuffed down the ear canal. That’s a big no-no.

Please read all of this if the article interests you as each part has equal value. A home treatment may not be feasible as ‘sometimes the cat will need to be sedated by your veterinarian so that the ear canal can be thoroughly cleaned of wax and debris’.

Cat ear mites
Cat ear mites. Image in the public domain as assessed.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Ear mites

Cat facial expressions: pain and discomfort
Cat facial expression of acute discomfort. Photo: PoC.

This nasty, tiny ectoparasite causes a cat a lot of distress and upset as they crawl deep into the ear canal where they ‘feed by piercing the skin’ (Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook – all quotes are from this reference book). They are ‘prolific’ and kittens can be infected by their mothers. ‘Suspect eat mites when both ears are affected’. There are two types:

  • Otodectes cynotis
  • Demodex cati

They can leave the ear canal and travel over the body. They are very contagious. All pets in a home should be treated if one pet has them.

Diagnosis

Discharge from cat ear mites can be foul smelling
Discharge from cat ear mites can be foul smelling. Image: PoC.

Symptoms:

  • Violent head shaking
  • Scratching
  • You’ll see a dry, crumbly, dark brown, waxy discharge when you look into the ear canal.
  • It looks like coffee grounds
  • Foul smelling (possibly)
  • Scratching causes raw areas with scabs and loss of hair around the ears
  • There may be a secondary bacterial infection due to the self-mutilation

In reference to the first paragraph, your vet will identify ear mites ‘by removing some earwax from a fold or crease with a cotton-tipped applicator and examining it under a magnifying glass, against a black background. Mites are white specks, about the size of the head of a pin, that move’.

A vet has to identify an ear mite infestation in your cat before any home treatment takes place as ‘other ear ailments can be complicated by using ear mite medications’.

Clean the ears

  • Don’t use cotton-tipped ear buds to clean the canal.
  • ‘To clean dirty ears, instill an ear-cleaning solution [to the ear canal] and massage the base of the ear’.
  • Ask your vet for a suggested special ear-cleaning solution. In the US there are several such as Epi-Otic.
  • This application loosens the dirt, excess wax and debris.
  • Afterwards ‘gently wipe out the ear with a cotton ball.
  • ‘Ear folds and creases [in the ear flap] are best cleaned with a cotton-tipped swab moistened with oil or a cleaning solution. DON’T ‘direct the applicator into the ear canal’.
  • DON’T ‘swab out or irrigate your cat’s ears with ether, alcohol or other irritating solvents, all of which cause pain and swelling of the tissues’.
  • You may have to restrain your cat as she objects to it. This is certainly a complication.

Applying ear medications

  • ‘Medications should be applied only to clean ear canals’.
  • Cat should be retrained.
  • ‘Fold the ear flap back over the top of the head’.
  • ‘Insert the end of the nozzle or medicine dropper into the ear canal only as far as you can see’.
  • ‘Squeeze in a small amount of ointment or instill three or four drops of liquid’.
  • ‘Massage the cartilage at the base of the ear for 20 seconds to disperse the medicine’.
  • Wipe off excess liquid.

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