Most kitties will itch, scratch or lick their ears as a part of their grooming routine, but if you’ve noticed yours has been itching more frequently than ever before, there may be a problem brewing. A common issue that can result in painful itching is ear mites and it’s important to understand the symptoms and what the mites look like in order to get your cat on the right pet drugs fast.
The signs of ear mites begin with the cat scratching her ears much more frequently than before. You may also notice the development of a secondary bacterial infection in her ears due to the scratching and moisture. The fur on the cat’s ears may start to get thinner or look patchy and the issue can get worse throughout the different stages of the mites’ lives.
The stages of mites
Mites have a four-stage life cycle beginning with the eggs getting distributed into an animal’s ear canal. Surprisingly, female mites typically lay a few eggs each day for their entire adult life. The second stage of mites begins when the eggs start to hatch, at which point they become larvae and feed off of the cat’s blood for approximately four days. On the fifth day the larvae molt into the nymph or third phase. During this time the nymphal molt into deutonymph and again feed on the cat for four days, after this time the mites are able to begin breeding. Once they reach adulthood the mites will be white and about the size of small ticks, they will feed off of the cat’s skin tissue and wax until the problem is found by her owner or a vet.
How cats get mites
Mites are very contagious and are most often spread from wild animals to grass to household pets. Rabbits, ferrets and dogs are also known to have the issue though cats for some reason have the most cases seen by vets. If you notice your cat itching and shaking her head for multiple days, you should bring her to the vet to check for mites.
How to help
If the vet finds the issue is in fact ear mites he or she will likely start the animal on an ear cleaning solution and pet drugs that work to kill mites in all stages. Starting the cat on flea and tick preventative medication can also keep the issue at bay in the future.