How Do Cats Get Ear Mites?

By: Chewy EditorialUpdated:

how do cats get ear mites

How Do Cats Get Ear Mites?


My cat is scratching excessively and shaking his head. Could my cat have ear mites? How do cats get ear mites?


If your cat is scratching and shaking his head, then there is a good chance he has ear mites. Ear mites are microscopic parasites that live in and on the ears of cats. They are one of the most common reasons that cats develop ear infections.

Ear mites are so tiny you can barely see them with the naked eye. But if you suspect your cat is infected with ear mites, look very closely and you might see tiny white insects in or on your cat’s ears. Those are ear mites.

Ear mites in cats cause severe itching, head shaking and discomfort; on top of that, they are very contagious. Ear mites easily spread from cat to cat through physical contact; when an infected cat comes into contact with another cat, the ear mites crawl off the infected cat and onto the other cat.

Ear mites typically cause double ear infections in cats, especially kittens, and cats infected with ear mites have red, swollen, itchy ears. Another hallmark sign of ear mites in cats is dark brown or black discharge that looks like coffee grounds in the ear. Outdoor cats are at greater risk for ear mite infestations than indoor cats because they are more likely to contact with other infected cats or wildlife.

Ear mites cannot survive in the environment, and humans appear to be immune; however dogs can become infected if they are in close contact with an infected cat. A cat who is infected with ear mites is considered contagious to other cats and dogs. So, if your cat has been diagnosed with ear mites, isolate him from other household pets.

If you think your cat is infected with ear mites, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for further evaluation. Cats who are infected with ear mites often develop secondary bacterial or fungal infections in their ears that require prescription ear medication for pets for pets, such as ear drops, and severe infections are not only painful but can lead to hearing loss if not treated properly.

Read “How to Treat Ear Mites in Cats,” so you can know exactly what treatment options are available for your infected cat.

Sarah Wooten bio

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By: Chewy EditorialUpdated: