How to treat mites in cats


Parasites, both external and internal, are one of the main enemies of the welfare and health of our pets in general. But if we stop to think about how annoying it should be to have tiny beings proliferating in our ears or skin, we can understand how important it is to know as much as possible about Mites in cats, their symptoms, treatment and contagion.

For this, Expert Animal offers you this content as a general guide, to prevent this annoying infestation or to stop it if it is already present in our pussy.

Types of mites in cats

The mites are ectoparasites that are installed on the skin to feed on it. Some dig tunnels in the dermis for this, while others remain on the surface in order to profile and feed on the keratin. Thus, the mites have a very large reproductive capacity, since, if the optimal conditions exist for this, they can increase their number very quickly and thus cause an infestation in their host.

In cats, there are different types of mites, the most common being the cause of scabies and otitis. Next, we show the most common mites in cats:

The most common mite in cats: Otodectes cynotis

This mite, which is a species of tiny spiders that seem to have the gift of ubiquity, because there are adapted to all possible environments, live in thedog and cat ear. Thus, together with pulicosis, this is the most commonly diagnosed external parasitosis in cats.

He Lifecycle of this common mite in the ears of cats is about three weeks and includes the following phases:

  • The eggs hatch after about 4 days in the ear canal.
  • The larva that leaves feeds and begins to pass through several nymphal stages.
  • Finally, 21 days after hatching, we have an adult ready to reproduce and perpetuate the infestation.

They live about 8 weeks, but they are well used for intense reproduction. Its color is whitish, and the females get to be twice the size of the males, but in no case exceed 0.5 mm. However, we cannot classify them as microscopic, since having a collaborating cat and good eyesight, can be observed with relative ease by using the otoscope.

Although its habitat is the ear canal, in serious infestations it can spread to a wider area of ​​the skin of the head and face of our cat and, sometimes, a specimen lost by other areas of the body can be detected, its finding being usually anecdotal in those parts. Mostly it appears in the upper tail area, because of the custom of sleeping curled up cats have.

It feeds on the outer surface of the skin of the ear canal (does not dig galleries) and its saliva results in irritation and itching, causing hypersecretion of the glands.

Symptoms of Otodectes cynotis in cats

Otodectes cynotis is one of the main responsible for otitis externa in cats, especially in young specimens. The symptoms are easily recognizable and there doesn't have to be a massive infestation to see our cat manifest them. In addition, cases of hypersensitivity to these parasites may occur (as is the case with fleas). So, to discover how to know if a cat has mitesIt is important to highlight that the most frequent and characteristic clinical signs are:

  • Dry brown-yellowish or blackish exudate, compared to coffee grounds or charcoal. Under normal conditions, the inside of our cat's ears should be pink and without exudate of any kind. However, if time passes and there is no remedy, there may be secondary contamination with bacteria or fungi, thereby varying the appearance and color of the secretion. In this way, it seems that the cat has black wax in the ear.
  • Intense itching and frequent shaking of the head. Scratch lesions do not take long to appear, being frequent in the back of the ears, on the cheeks, even in the neck (such as when humans suffer from otitis and notice an itchy sensation in the throat). Erythema and scabs secondary to scratching on the cheeks and the upper part of the eyes may also appear.
  • Otohematomas. Sometimes, the marked itching leads to scratching eventually breaking the capillary vessels of the atrial cartilage, causing the accumulation of blood. The ear acquires the typical empanadilla look. If there is no remedy with drains, a clot forms that subsequently becomes fibrous, leaving a "wrinkled ear."
  • Fibrosis and auditory canal stenosis. If we do not treat the chronicity of the infestation it can cause a thickening of the walls and, consequently, a reduction in the lumen of the canal, which can become irreversible as in any otitis.

Not all these symptoms always appear and, as mentioned, there is not always a correlation between the degree of parasitization and the intensity of the symptoms.

Diagnosis of mites in cats

Because it is one of the most frequent parasitosis in cats, our veterinarian will perform at each visit a auditory canal exam, being able to see this mite with the naked eye if it has enough time and our cat is calm. They usually introduce the otoscope without light, illuminating once inside, to catch the intruder by surprise, and not give him time to hide in secretions.

If secretions appear and mites are not detected in the cat, the specialist will take samples using a swab and in the microscope you can see both eggs and hexapod larvae (3 pairs of legs) and adults (with 4 pairs of legs). Sometimes, a drop of oil is used in order to lubricate the secretions, quite dry, and facilitate the exit of these arthropods from the hiding place.

Although there are no intense secretions, or they are not revealed in a first review, if we continue to notice compatible discomfort in our cat, our veterinarian will insist on the search for isolated specimens that may be causing a hypersensitivity reaction.

The fact of not being seen in a first review does not mean that they are not, and that is why it is very important explore the earin each visit, especially in the first months of our cat's life.

Treatment for mites in cats (Otodectes cynotis)

Besides acaricidal treatmentsIt is vitally important to clean the secretions with a suitable cleaner, at least twice a week at the beginning. These cleaners They are usually oily, so they can help get rid of parasites mechanically (drowns them), an extra help to the antiparasitic we should apply to our cat.

How to clean a cat's ears with mites

To clean the cat's ears, a few drops of the cleaner will be introduced into the auditory pavilion and, with a sterile gauze, the entire area will be cleaned, extending the product well and exercising a gentle massage that, in addition, allows some of these to be removed parasites These drops for mites in cats They are usually a complement to very effective veterinary treatment. However, as a home remedy for cat mites, it is possible to use olive oil instead, following the same procedure.

A small drawback is the accidental entry into the eye of some drop of these cleaning oils, so it is advisable to be very cautious. Another incident is the possible occurrence of a Horner Syndrome, secondary to cleaning. However, it is rare, and the benefits of cleaning outweigh the inconveniences.

Acaricides most used to eliminate mites in cats

  • Topical selamectin (pipette): Because the mites feed on blood and lymph, any product that passes into the cat's blood will be absorbed by them. Selamectin applied to the skin of the neck is absorbed by the blood capillaries and reaches optimal concentrations in a few hours, or at most, two days. Mites die when feeding. One dose may be sufficient, but it is recommended to repeat after 3 weeks (the estimated mite cycle time).
  • Ivermectin otic: There are gels with ivermectin designed to combine the oily effect of a cleanser with the acaricidal power of ivermectin. They are applied every 7 days for several weeks, but their effectiveness depends on how manageable our cat is and the depth to which we can introduce the cannula. All products can cause reactions in both animals and people, but ivermectin, being one of the most used and studied, may have more data on known hypersensitivities. So, although it is very safe and effective, we must be aware of any possible side effects (depression, intense salivation, eye problems, difference in pupil size.).

If there was one fungal infectionor bacterialhigh school, should be treated with specific products. There are ear suspensions that combine antifungals and antibiotics. Sometimes they trust that they have acaricidal power but it is not so. Its effect against mites lies in the ability to drown them. It is a sometimes short treatment and can survive some, so the use of a selamectin pipette is necessary, combined with the treatment of the infection.

Pipettes for cat mites

Since the use of pipettes is practically mandatory to treat mites in cats, it will be the veterinarian who will indicate the most appropriate for the treatment. Likewise, pipettes are an excellent preventive method They help prevent the proliferation of these parasites. To purchase them, there are online stores that make available to users pipettes of the most recognized brands for their effectiveness, such as Frontline, which allow obtaining these products to prevent the appearance of mites in cats and other external parasites, such as fleas or ticks . This is the case of MiPipeta, a project that offers pipettes for cats and dogs.

Contagion of Otodectes cynotis

He intimate and direct contact It is the route of contagion. We have all wondered how it is possible that our kitten, with just two months, has mites. Probably his mother suffered them and, in the upbringing, he has transmitted them to the whole litter. During that time there is close contact between kittens and mother, with continuous grooming included and the mites, like the lice in children, do not take long to reach the ears of all cats.

Although they can survive outside the ear canal for up to 10 days, the spread of mites in cats through fomites (objects such as blankets, etc.) is very unlikely, although it is not ruled out. However, it should be a fairly poor hygiene environment and a severe infestation.

We usually associate these parasitosis with stray cats, but it is quite common to find cats from hatcheries and protectors with a significant load of parasites in their ears, so we should never rule out this problem. Many times they suffer for years, and can be confused with the typical ceruminous secretions of furry cats: Persian, exotic.

Can humans also get it?

Some erythematous lesion may appear on the arms by direct contact, but again the environment and the degree of infestation would have to be extreme. It is not ruled out in cases of overcrowding of cats, or someone who may have hypersensitivity to Otodectescynotis and have the misfortune of contacting a missing copy.

Other mites in cats

Briefly, we summarize the other common mites that can affect our cats, less frequent in proportion, but equally important:

  • Demodex cati Y Demodex gatoi:Demodex gatoi barely cites while Demodexcati it may be after earwax in cats, although compared to Demodexcanis In dogs, it is not too frequent. It usually causes moderate otitis, without itching, but with abundant yellowish brown earwax, in otherwise healthy cats (he is responsible for feline otodecosis). It responds well to the treatments described above, but its excessive proliferation or that affects the whole body is associated with lowering of defenses or immunosuppression, which must be corrected.
  • Cat notoedres: this mite causes the so-called "cat's mange or notohedral mange", it is comparable to Sarcoptes scabiei in dogs in terms of life cycle and action. It is spread by direct contact and the initial lesions are located precisely in the head and neck, with the intense itching on the face that attracts the most attention. Secondary injuries are inevitable. It is quite common in cologne cats, and the treatment in these cases can be the application of ivermectin in the food every week, for several weeks. The problem is that we will never know which cat has taken it, or if one has taken several doses. For affected home cats, treatments against the other mentioned mites also work (selamectin for example). We recommend you review the Expert Animal article that talks about cat mange.
  • Cheyletiella: walking dandruff or a fur mite that can be seen with the naked eye in dogs, cats and rabbits. Your mouthpiece allows you to anchor to feed on tissue fluids. There are those who compare them with a "saddle" when they are studied in detail. The symptoms are "dandruff" and itching, and the treatments the same as in the rest of mites in cats. In puppies, spray with fipronil can be used.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Mites in cats - Symptoms, treatment and contagion, we recommend that you enter our section of parasitic diseases.