Ear mites

What is it?

Ear mites, whose scientific name is Otodectes cynotis, are commonly referred to as "ear ticks".

These parasites belong to the acarid family and are frequently seen in cats, mostly kittens and adults that go outside. 

The symptoms

After they have colonized the ear canal, the mites reproduce in large numbers and cause an inflammatory reaction of variable intensity. This depends on the number of parasites present, the animal's own resistance, and the presence of a hypersensitivity.

The principal symptoms in cats are: 

  • Black secretions resembling ground coffee beans;
  • Redness of the ear canals 
  • Itching of the head and ears, sometimes accompanied by lesions caused by excessive scratching. 



The diagnosis

The typical appearance of the secretions stongly confirms the condition. A definitive diagnosis is made by retrieving, with a swab, a sample of the secretions and viewing them under a microscope. Most of the time, we can see a multitude of moving mites and sometimes even their eggs. 

It may occur that the mites aren't visible under the microscope. We can try to confirm their presence by using products whose safety and efficiency are known. 

The treatment

Treatment consists partly of killing the parasite and calming the inflammatory reaction in the ear canal. 

This is generally done by applying drops in the cat's ears daily for several days and applying a liquid antiparasitic on skin near the neck. This last treatment is administered once a month for at least 2 months. 

It is sometimes necessary in cases of severe itching that the pet wear a cone to prevent self-mutilation by excessive scratching of the ears. 

Since acarids are contagious, all pets coming into contact with the infested cats, including other cats, dogs, and ferrets, must be treated with antiparasitic. However, if they do not develop an otitis, ear drops do not have to be administered.