Foothill Felines Spooky Spots; a lovely silver spotted Savannah queen.
|(PLEASE NOTE: We are NOT veterinarians!! However, we want to share our personal research and experiences regarding these important feline health issues with other cat-lovers!! We will be updating this page often!! Send us your ideas and any comments!!)|
What are "ear mites"?? Ear mites, or "Otodectes cynotis", are the most common type of mite to infest cats. They cause an infected cat to hold her ears in a strangely flattened way, or to shake her head very vigorously, and also to scratch her ears relentlessly. They are highly contagious amongst animals, and feed on the superficial waxes and debris in the ear canal.
How do I know if my cat has ear mites?? Believe it or not, 90% of ALL cats will get ear mites at some time in their lives (per Dr. Michael Dryden, Kansas State University veterinarian and numerous other studies conducted on this subject.) Kittens and cats under one year of age are most likely to become infested with ear mites as their immune system has not built up enough resistance to them yet. Mites do not pierce the skin, or suck the blood of their host. One of the reasons it is so difficult to get rid of them is that they can migrate. While most mites will spend their entire life in the ear canal, some mites may inhabit other areas of the cats body; especially the feet, face, neck and tailhead. You will usually notice a blackish discharge in the ears that resembles coffee grounds and is very thick. A veterinarian can confirm a diagnosis of ear mites by looking at the discharge under a microscope, and occasionally you can actually see the tiny, mobile white mites under a magnifying glass.
What's the treatment for these mites?? Treatment of ear mites can be frustrating as it will require patience and tenacity. ALL animals in the home must be treated, regardless of whether or not they exhibit any ear mite symptoms. (Other animals can harbor the mites even if they remain unaffected.) Usually, your veterinarian will clean the ears well, and prescribe some sort of ear drops. Often the ear drops contain an insecticide (acaricide) such as rotenone; pyrethrins; piperonyl butoxide; thiabendazole, methoxychlor, dichlorophene, or ivermectin. Some of these medications can be given by injection; however, we personally don't recommend this sort of treatment as some of these medications are powerful insecticides. Medicines given by injection are much more difficult to monitor in the event your kitty has an allergic or otherwise potentially dangerous reaction. New treatments are coming out all the time for these pesky ear mites. Many veterinarians recommend continuing to give the topical drops for thirty days, plus continuing on a once-a-week schedule for an additional ninety days to be sure you have eliminated the problem. THIS IS A TOTAL OF 4 MONTHS! Many of these medications need to be refrigerated, so be sure to follow all label instructions to keep the medication working effectively. It is also recommended to give all animals in the home a flea bath, spray and/or dip or anti-flea treatment weekly during this time to kill any mites that may be hiding in the fur.
Are there any serious complications that can result from an ear mite infestation?? Often, a secondary infection can occur due to the continued irritation from the ear mites in the sensitive ear canals of the cat. These infections can be bacterial in nature, or fungal, as in a yeast infection. There is a medication called "Tresaderm" which works to control the mites and the concurrent yeast infection by its topical acidity, and without dangerous insecticides. TRESADERM (which definitely needs to be refrigerated after opening) seems to be well tolerated by most cats and even young kittens, and can be used safely for long periods of time without causing additional problems. Also, your veterinarian can prescribe corticosteroid drugs to help relieve the itching until the mites are gone, and antibiotics in the case of a bacterial secondary infection. It is very important to treat ear mites, for if left untreated, they can cause serious problems such as secondary bacterial infections and even deafness. Even a few mites can make a cat thoroughly miserable, and some cats are actually hypersensitive to mites.
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