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Published: May 11, 2012

Ear mites in cats are a common problem pet owners need to be aware of. These small insects can get inside the ear of a cat and cause damage and irritation over time. Ear mites are highly contagious and most cats get them from playing with other infected animals.

It's not uncommon for mites to cause ear infections in cats, however, it's important that the owner brings the cat to a veterinarian, because mites require a different type of treatment compared to other types of ear disease. Clinical signs of ear mites include rubbing or digging at the infected ear, head shaking, a dark waxy discharge, a rash around the ear or possibly even a blood blister.

Your veterinarian will be able to look inside the cat's ear and observe the mites. Sometimes, the veterinarian can also use a microscope to look for signs of ear mites on any discharge from the ear. If the cat's ear is sore, the animal may need to be sedated while it is examined.

Treatment of ear mites typically includes an insecticide used on the cat's ear and skin for a period of at least three weeks. All pets in the household usually require treatment in order to eliminate the mites.  Your veterinarian may also prescribe a product to treat the home environment, as mites can continue to live without an animal host.