Ear mite: prevention and treatment of Maine coon and other feline

5 August 2022

The itchy ear mite (Otodectes cynotis) is a microscopic parasite transmitted through contact with a sick animal or infected surfaces.  Pets that do not have access to the street can become infected through the hands, clothes or shoes of the owner. Ear mite in cats leads to the development of otodectosis – ear scabies. How to identify the clinical signs of the disease at the initial stage and prevent complications from secondary infection – in the material of this article.

What does an ear mite look like

Scabies ear mites are arthropod–type parasites. The scaly body of an adult tick has an oval shape with four pairs of formed limbs in males and three pairs of formed limbs and one rudimentary one in females.
The parasite moves only in one direction, making its way into the upper layers of the skin of the animal’s auditory canal, and laying eggs there. The peak of arthropod activity occurs at night.

How long does an ear mite live

The full cycle of life – from egg to adult – lasts about 30 days: this is enough for the male to fertilize the female, and she laid eggs. One female lays up to 10 eggs a day. It takes up to 4 days to form a larva, and up to 9-12 days (sometimes more) for an adult to appear.  That’s why the colonies of parasites multiply so quickly, and the disease progresses rapidly.

In environmental conditions – for example, on a shoe mat or a food bowl – ticks live up to 12 days (sometimes more). This increases the likelihood of getting sick again, so the course of treatment has to be carried out in several stages.

Please note: according to statistics, there are more cases of ear mites in cats. However, the parasite can live in the ears of a dog or ferret. These animals are the same carriers. Especially, the Yorkshire Terrier breed and other species whose ears are lowered, the ear canal is covered or wool grows out of it.

What is the danger of otodectosis

Otodectosis or ear scabies is an inflammation of the skin of the ear canal, provoked by infection with an ear mite in cats.

It is almost impossible to track the onset of the disease without magnifying devices: adult ticks grow to 0.2 – 0.8 mm, so they remain unnoticed during a cursory visual examination. To diagnose otodectosis, you need to contact a veterinary clinic, take a scraping of the ear discharge and wait for the results of the examination under a microscope.

Further development of the disease is fraught with the addition of an allergic reaction and insemination of secretions from the ear with secondary microflora. For example, Staphylococcus, fungi or other flora. In attempts to clean the ears on their own, the cat injures the skin with claws. Inflammatory processes, eczema and dermatitis are formed in the places of scratching.

As a result, a prolonged course of the disease can lead to fever, rupture of the eardrum and otitis media of the middle ear of the animal. Which, in turn, leads to hearing loss, inflammation of the brain membrane and death.

Is the cat ear mite dangerous for humans

The human body temperature is not suitable for the life and reproduction of the parasite, so the appearance of an ear mite in a cat does not harm people – we can only be its carriers.

The only thing that threatens contact with a sick animal is the manifestation of pseudo–fever: a small rash caused by parasite bites. It is not necessary to treat allergies in humans.  It is enough to cure an infected animal, and unpleasant symptoms will disappear from the owner by themselves.

How does the infection occur

Invasion by an ear mite is carried out in two ways: through contact with an infected surface or through the body or clothing of the carrier. Carriers of the tick can be other fur-bearing animals (not necessarily cats), people, flies and fleas.

Ear mites tend to live in a humid and warm environment. Therefore, when they get on the fur or skin of an animal, they try to get into the ears. And only in the severe stage of the disease can ear mites be found on the neck, stomach or tail of a pet.

A few seconds are enough to get an ear mite. At the same time, the first symptoms of invasion do not occur immediately. Usually the cat gets sick a few weeks after the first contact.

Stages of the disease development

The standard development of otodectosis takes place in several stages. Get acquainted with the course of the disease in order to recognize the invasion of ear mites at an early stage:

  1. Damage to the skin: ear mites gnaw through the passages in the upper layers of the skin to get food or lay eggs. This is usually accompanied by severe itching, and the animal tends to comb its ears with a paw or rub against door jambs or furniture. However, in some cases, the first stage is asymptomatic.
  2. Vascular fragility: the skin inside the ear begins to turn red. And with hypersensitivity to the ear mite, edema and inflammatory reactions are possible.
  3. Ear discharge: natural ear cleaning from sulfur is difficult, which leads to the appearance of abundant ear discharge of dark brown, coffee or brown in an adult cat or gray in a kitten. In the case of insemination of ear secretions by other flora, suppuration and unpleasant odor are possible.
  4. Formation of an ear plug: the accumulation of sulfur and particles of dead skin and other secretions leads to blockage of the auditory canal. In the advanced stage of the disease, this can lead to rupture of the eardrum with the transition to otitis media of the middle ear.
  5. Transfer of infection to the brain membrane: when the middle and inner ear are affected, the pathology begins to spread. The animal tries to tilt its head sideways so that the sore ear looks at the floor. This leads to the development of sepsis and subsequent death.

Symptoms of an ear mite in cats Maine Coon

A pet ran out into the entrance? Did you take a cat from the street? Or maybe you bought a kitten in a kennel with crowded conditions of detention? The first symptoms of an invasion by an ear mite in a cat may appear only after two weeks – during this period it is necessary to observe the behavior of the pet especially carefully.

Primary signs of ear mite invasion:

  • The cat shakes its head: usually ticks penetrate both ears at once, but if the infection is uneven, the animal tilts its head in the direction that causes more concern.
  • Cat itches: usually, bald patches and non-healing wounds appear in the places of combs.
  • The cat changes in behavior: ignores a favorite toy, refuses to eat, starts to get nervous, clings to the owner or, conversely, becomes aggressive.
  • The auricle turns red: redness may be accompanied by scratches from claws and hair loss from the outside of the ear.
  • Ears get dirty: there is an abundant ear discharge of gray, brown, brown or coffee color.

Secondary signs of ear mite invasion:

Suppuration and an unpleasant smell appear: this is a sign of insemination of ear secretions by other flora.

The temperature rises: this is a sign of the spread of infection to the middle ear.

The hearing settles: this is a sign of the spread of infection to the middle and inner ear.
Convulsions begin: this is a sign of the spread of infection to the lining of the brain.


To make an accurate diagnosis, it is necessary to undergo an examination: contact a veterinary clinic and take a scraping of the ear discharge for further clinical and laboratory studies.

Finding an ear mite without magnifying devices will not work – you need an examination using an otoscope and the conclusion of a microscopic examination.

If there is a suspicion of otitis externa, additional research will be needed: it will help determine the composition of the microflora and outline a course of further treatment.

Many of the symptoms that signal infection with an ear mite also apply to other diseases. For example, yeast infection. Therefore, self-administration of drugs with antiparasitic components is not allowed. They can distort the clinical picture: lead to an incorrect diagnosis or complicate the course of the disease.

How to pass the initial check at home

To check your pet at home, you will need a cotton swab or a long pair of tweezers wrapped in a bandage, a piece of black paper and a magnifying glass:
Step 1. Gently swipe a cotton swab along the inner wall of the auricle without climbing into the ear canal.
Step 2. Swipe the ear separable onto paper.
Step 3. Examine the selections with a magnifying glass. The itchy ear mite in cats looks like a whitish moving dot.

If traces of the parasite are found, sign up for a consultation with a veterinarian: a specialist will draw up a treatment plan and select effective drugs that correspond to the age of the pet, the peculiarities of its health and the stage of the disease.

Please note: if a secondary infection has joined the ear mite, and the ears are suppurating, it will not be possible to see the parasites.

Treatment Maine Coon

Standard treatment of ticks for cats is not traumatic: it can be carried out in a veterinary clinic under the supervision of a veterinarian or independently – at home.

To reduce the risk of re-infection, treatment against ticks should be carried out comprehensively.

Usually the course of treatment consists of four components:

  1. Cleansing of the auricle from excess earwax, crusts and pus: these are antiseptic agents that will prepare the skin for the application of medicines.
  2. The use of acaricidal drugs: these are special drops from ticks for cats in the ear or drops on the withers, ointments and powders that kill an adult.
  3. Application of means for external processing: these are aerosols and sprays for the treatment of wool, exposed surfaces and household items.
  4. Changing the diet: these are special balanced feeds with a high content of protein and vitamins.

How to treat the auricle

You will need: cleansing lotion or hydrogen peroxide solution, cotton pads or a piece of bandage and disposable gloves.

Step 1. Soak a cotton pad or a piece of bandage in a solution of hydrogen peroxide or cleansing lotion, and gently remove excess ear secretions from the visible surfaces of the auricles. It is not necessary to try to penetrate deeper – this is fraught with the formation of an ear plug. To soften the hard crusts, you can use any vegetable oil. For example, sunflower or olive oil. But before applying the drug, the oil film must be removed.
Step 2. Apply an antiparasitic agent to the treated skin, bend the ear in half and massage at the base so that the drug is distributed evenly over the auricle. If you use drops, avoid instillation in the ear canal. With a severe course of the disease, this can lead to tissue irritation and rupture of the eardrum.
When the drug gets on the skin, the cat can hiss, scream and even foam. This is a normal reaction to a toxic substance, so you should not be afraid of it. The main thing is not to let the cat lick the medicine and shake its head. To do this, a special collar is put on it.

Effective medications for ear mites in cats

Any acaricidal agents can be divided into four segments: drops, ointments, powders and sprays. The form of release, treatment regimen and dosage are prescribed by the attending physician. But if there is a choice, most hosts use drops or spray: this release form is the safest and easiest to apply.

The treatment regimen is prescribed taking into account the life cycle of the tick. Since the active substance kills only an adult, treatment is carried out in several stages – until all the eggs hatch. Most often, the treatment regimen is prescribed for 1.5 months.

* The course of treatment and dose should be agreed with the veterinarian.

Please note: in case of secondary infection, treatment against secondary otitis caused by the layering of microflora on the affected ear will be required. And if the disease is severe, the doctor may prescribe anti–inflammatory subcutaneous injections – for example, Ivermectin – and antihistamines that will relieve itching. The treatment regimen and dosage are prescribed individually, taking into account the age and weight of cats.

Treatment with folk remedies

To alleviate the condition of the cat, it is allowed to use folk methods that do not contradict medical treatment.

To soften the crusts and reduce inflammation, apply a few drops of vegetable-based oil to a cotton pad.

For example, camphor or almond.

To clean the affected area, you can use an infusion of strong green unpackaged tea, sulfur soap or a solution of boric acid – these products are used before applying drops or as a prevention of otodectosis in cats.

It is forbidden to use soda, celandine juice, garlic gruel. The active components of the products lead to tissue irritation and can aggravate the course of the disease.

Prevention of infection

Timely warning of an ear tick in a cat is reduced to regular treatment against the tick and maintaining cleanliness in the house.

At risk: animals that walk on the street, live in the country, participate in exhibitions, live in crowded conditions of detention.

To reduce the likelihood of infection, use acaricidal agents during wet cleaning and treat the litter and pet’s favorite toys with a special spray.

If several cats, dogs and other fur–bearing animals are kept in the house, the course of treatment and treatment against the tick is carried out for everyone without exception – even for pets without pronounced symptoms. In rare cases, infection with parasites is asymptomatic.

Preventive treatment against fleas and ticks is carried out 1 time a month. Discuss the choice of the drug with a veterinarian – its composition will depend on the age of the cat, her lifestyle and tendency to recurrent otitis. If the disease has returned repeatedly, the need for surgical intervention on the tissues is not excluded.

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