Ear vermin are little parasites that live in the ear channel. They are small spider-like critters that feed on earwax, dander, and tissue fluid. The presence of the mites irritates the ear canal, in response to this, the ear canal will produce more earwax. The mites get more food and the infection will spread.
If your cat suddenly starts scratching his ears noticeably often, this could be an indication of an ear mite infestation. The mite is estimated to be responsible for almost every second ear infection in cats. It is therefore important to pay attention to possible symptoms as soon as possible. You can read below how your cat can contract ear mites, what symptoms this causes and how you can treat the parasite infestation of your four-legged friend.
What are ear mites?
Ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) are small arachnids less than half a millimeter in diameter. The tiny parasites prefer to infect their host’s ears, which is why they are called ear mites.
If ear mites get into the cat’s ears, they burrow into the skin and feed on the secretions that come out. The full life cycle of the ear mites takes about three weeks, which they spend completely in their host’s ears.
Ear mites reproduce very quickly. In a severe infestation, there can be up to 2,000 mites in one ear. If you look closely, you can see the ear mites as small moving dots in the cat’s pinna.
The ear consists of an outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The external ear comprises the pinna and the ear trench. The eardrum isolates the external ear from the center ear. The middle ear consists of the three ossicles and ensures that sound is transferred to the inner ear. The internal ear comprises a cochlea and three crescent waterways. The cochlea will ensure that the sound is transmitted to the brain. The three semi-circular canals ensure balance. Ear infections are less common in cats than in dogs.
An ear infection can be caused by:
– Parasites, for example, ear mites
– Allergy, for example, due to food
– Bacterial infection
– Foreign object in the ear, e.g. a grass spike
– Tumor or polyp in the ear
With an ear infection, a cat often has itchy ears. The ears can be sore and sometimes they smell bad. We regularly see cats with an ear infection shaking their head a lot. In bad cases, your cat may even tilt its head.
If you recognize any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you take your cat to the vet for a check-up. Ear infections often do not go away on their own and the cat often suffers from an ear infection.
After the general clinical examination, the vet will examine your cat’s ears with an otoscope. Sometimes it is necessary to take a sample of the ears and look under a microscope for the presence of inflammation, mites, yeasts, and/or bacteria.
With persistent ear infections, it is sometimes necessary to send a swab to the laboratory to investigate the infection. In case of tumors, polyps, or foreign objects in the ear, it is necessary to put your cat under anesthesia and remove it.
Sometimes your cat seems much better after a few days of ointment, but the infection is still deeper in the ear canal. It is therefore always important to check up after the treatment to make sure that the ear infection is gone.
Chronic uncontrolled ear infections can lead to irreversible changes in the ear canal. Sometimes the only solution is to remove the ear canal.
This is how your cat gets infected with ear mites
The transmission of ear mites usually occurs through direct contact with an infected cat or other animals. Experience shows that young cats are particularly sensitive to ear mites.
Because ear mites can survive outside the cat’s ears for several weeks under the right conditions, a transmission of the parasites is also indirectly possible. This is important in the successful treatment of a cat with ear mites.
Transmission to humans is also possible. In practice, however, it is rather an exception. However, it is good to be careful with a cat suffering from ear mites.
Detecting ear mites in cats
Infestation with ear mites leads to so-called tinnitus in your cat. This prompts an ear disease and different grievances.
If a cat suffers from ear mites, this can mainly manifest itself in the following symptoms:
- Severe itching and excessive scratching
- Shake the head regularly
- Redness in the ear canals
- Dark brown ear discharge
- crusting in the ear
In individual cases, untreated ear mite infestation can spread all over the cat’s body and cause dermatitis (itchy, extensive skin eczema). However, it is not possible to say in advance exactly how severe the mentioned symptoms will be. Some cats don’t seem to suffer from ear mites and have no symptoms.
How are ear mites diagnosed?
The diagnosis of ear mites cannot be made from the outside. The ear canal is inspected with a pair of binoculars, called an otoscope. Often you can already see the ear mites moving in the ear canal. The diagnosis can be confirmed by taking a small amount of earwax and placing it under a microscope. The mites are then clearly visible. By looking at the ear canal with the otoscope, it can also be checked whether there is no additional inflammation.
Treatment of ear mites in cats
Once your suspicions have been confirmed and the vet has diagnosed your cat with ear mites, it’s time to start treating the parasite infestation. For this purpose, the vet will usually give you an ointment or drops for topical application. In addition, anti-mite products can be given to the cat.
Treatment usually works well, so the cat ear rash should clear up in about a week. However, due to the risk of infection, it is important to treat other pets in the household as well. Infants should not have contact with the cat while the treatment lasts.
Ear care is not only important during treatment
In addition to using the product prescribed by your vet, it is important to clean your cat’s ears daily as part of the ear mites treatment. For this, we recommend that you use the ear drops from I love my cat.
These high-quality ear drops with aloe vera and other well-tolerated ingredients are not only ideal for cleaning the ears of cats with ear mites. They are likewise a decent decision for day-by-day ear care in sound creatures.
Inflammation of the skin
Inflammation of the skin is often caused by bacteria. Often there is an underlying problem with a bacterial skin infection.
Underlying causes of skin infection:
- Parasites: Fleas, mites, lice, etc.
- Allergy: Cats can be allergic to fleas, food, environmental allergens such as house dust mites and/or pollen.
- Humidity and heat
- Dry skin
- Hormonal Problems
- Immunosuppressive Disorders: These are conditions in which the resistance is often suppressed.
Symptoms we can see with a skin infection:
- red skin
- Crusts or flakes on the skin
- Damp/wet spots on the skin
- Often the skin smells
- Sometimes there are some kind of pimples with pus present
Very occasionally, an untreated skin infection can lead to a fever and general illness.
After a general examination and a dermatological examination (this is the examination of the skin and hair), we can take some samples of the skin and hair. Under the microscope, we look at which bacteria are present to be able to give the correct antibiotic treatment. If the skin problems cannot be controlled despite therapy for the infection itself and any underlying causes, a biopsy of the skin can be taken. This biopsy will be sent to the laboratory for examination. Depending on this result, we will then adjust the treatment.
just like people, felines can likewise experience the ill effects of sensitivities. They are not born allergic but often develop it in their first years of life. It is sometimes difficult to find out what your cat is allergic to. Your vet can make a diagnosis using a well-discussed step-by-step plan.
In general, allergic conditions can be divided into three groups:
These are cats that are hypersensitive to flea bites. They get severe itching and skin reactions due to the presence of fleas. For example, scabs and bald spots can form all over the body. Cats with a flea allergy often wash continuously and lick up so many fleas. This is one of the reasons why we often see few fleas in cats with a flea allergy. It is important to de-flea these cats very strictly 3 to 4 weeks with a good and fast-acting flea remover.
These are cats that react hyper-sensitively to a certain protein from the diet. In addition to skin complaints, they can sometimes also suffer from gastrointestinal complaints. After ruling out parasitic and/or bacterial infections, we can give your cat a different diet. Most cats are allergic to a certain protein source. By feeding hypoallergenic food (this is a commercial food whose proteins are split into very small particles so that the cat can react less or not to this), we can test whether your cat suffers from a food allergy.
You can also cook for your cat yourself. Then you will receive a letter from us explaining the self-cooking diet. This nutritional test must be strictly adhered to for 6 to 8 weeks to become. This means that your cat should ONLY be fed this diet with nothing else in it. If your cat gets a small piece of cheese, sandwich, or candy once during this test, he or she may start itching again and we have to start over to do a reliable test.
These are cats that are hypersensitive to certain environmental allergens, such as pollen, grasses, house dust mites, etc. Sometimes we see that these cats show seasonal skin complaints. Your vet can do a blood test or skin test to test which allergens your cat is reacting to. Based on this result, a therapy utilizing injections can be drawn up. Using these injections we try to make your cat less sensitive to his or her allergy. These injections are given to your cat at specific times. After 1 year we can see if the therapy has helped. If so, the advice is to give this for life. If not, we can see if there is another medication.
It is important to know that cats with allergies never heal! The cats suffer from skin complaints about life, but under supervision, we can ensure that your cat can lead a comfortable life with as little itching as possible.
Preventing ear mites in cats
It is practically impossible to rule out an ear mite infestation in cats with absolute certainty. Especially outdoors, contact with infected congeners can hardly be avoided.
All things considered, you can go to fitting cleanliness lengths to diminish the danger of ear bugs in your feline, or to help the treatment of a current ear rash.
Ear mites can survive for several days without a host. This then leads to a first or renewed infection of your four-legged friend.
Therefore, clean your cat’s sleeping area regularly and wash the pillows or blankets in the washing machine. Vacuum and mop the floors of your home thoroughly and pay attention to your cat’s hygiene too.
Eosinophilic granuloma complex
An eosinophilic granuloma complex is an inflammation that can occur in cats of the skin, chin and/or lips, oral cavity, and mucous membranes.
An eosinophilic granuloma complex consists of three different lesions:
- Indolent ulcer:
These are well-defined sores that present on one or two sides of the upper lip.
- Eosinophilic plaque:
These are well-defined, bald, and raised lesions that look moist, inflamed. These are usually found on the chest, abdomen, or inside of the hind legs.
- Eosinophilic granuloma:
These are well-defined, raised lesions that appear pink to yellowish and appear on the back of the hind legs and typically in the oral cavity.
These three injuries can occur separately or together. The condition probably arises as a result of an allergy, for example, a flea allergy, food allergy, or an environmental allergy.
In addition to the clinical and dermatological examination, we take a sample of the skin that we assess under the microscope. In this way, we can make a probable diagnosis of an eosinophilic granuloma complex. For a definitive diagnosis, we take a biopsy of the skin and have the tissue examined.
To treat the condition, we need to address any underlying allergy. If we don’t do this, the injuries could come back. The lesions themselves are treated with immunosuppressive drugs.