Ear Mite Treatment for Cats

Otic Suspension


The Ear Mite Problem

Ear mites are a common problem in cats, especially in kittens. These mites, Otodectes cynotis, typically live within the ear canal, but can also be found on other areas of the body or in the environment. Ear mites cause intense irritation as they move about the ear canal feeding on epidermal debris and tissue fluid. Ear mites complete their life cycle from egg to adult in five stages. The complete metamorphosis takes approximately three weeks as illustrated.

Phase 1: The Eggs

The female ear mite typically lays about five eggs per day for the entirety of her adult life. Deposited on the ear canal, the eggs hatch within four days.

Phase 2: The Larvae

Once hatched, larvae feed for 3-5 days before becoming lethargic for 24 hours as they molt into the nymph phase.

Phase 3: The Nymphs

There are two stages of nymphs: the protonymph and the deutonymph. Each feeds for 3-5 days, rests, then molts to the next stage.

Phase 4: The Adults

Barely visible to the naked eye, the adult ear mite appears white in color and feeds off the epithelial debris in a cat's ear. The record number of ear mites found in a cat's ear was 3,500.


Clinical signs of ear mites in cats:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching the ears (there may be sores around the ears as a result of scratching)
  • Reddish-brown to black discharge (crusts and cerumen) in the ears that resemble coffee grounds
  • No clinical signs*

A diagnosis of ear mites by the veterinarian is usually made by one of the following methods:

  • Direct visualization of the mites with an otoscope
  • Microscopic examination of the ear discharge

*Although some cats show no outward signs of ear mite infestations, the mites can be diagnosed as described above. Veterinarians often check for ear mites as part of the routine physical exam, especially in multi-cat households.

The Ear Mite Cycle


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