Ever noticed your cat shaking it's head or scratching madly at its ear? Well it might be time to check your pet's ear to make sure that they don't have any unwanted visitors like the ear mite.
It is very important to make sure that your cat is free from ear mites as they are not only contagious to other cats in the home but can also infect other animals who live in the same environment. It is also important to keep your cats ears healthy as they rely on their hearing to listen out for their prey and to be able to protect them selves from being crept up upon and being attacked by other cats. Their ears also help them with balance when climbing trees etc. that if not functioning properly could cause all sorts of nasty accidents.
Ear mites are small spider like insects that love to make the inside of a cat ear their home. Unfortunately they cause infections and can cause damage to the eardrum causing a permanent loss of hearing. They are passed from one cat to another, this could be simply sharing the same sleeping places to close contact with other cats whilst grooming or playing together. The mites can also live for a while in the general environment so even if your cat hasn't come directly in contact with another cat, there is still a possibility of them being passed on by your cat simply passing through a place where another cat with mites has been previously.
It is therefore wise to check your cat's ears on a regular basis for any signs of infection of the mite itself. It is possible to see them with the naked eye and they look like small white dots against dark earwax. You may even get some indication that your cat has a problem in the ear by noticing vigorous head shaking or excessive ear scratching by your cat or you may notice a build up of excessive earwax that is very dark in colour and has a strong odour. It is always wise to make sure that these symptoms are caused by ear mites and not some other medical condition, so always get a vet to check the ears if you do suspect something is wrong.
If ear mites are correctly diagnosed it is important to kill them off before the infection becomes any worse or that it spreads to other animals. The vet will wipe away a lot of the earwax along with some of the mites that can be seen, he will then administer some eardrops that will be able to get deep into the ear canal. These drops will have to be administered for a three-week period to ensure the total eradication of the ear mites.
It is also important that you treat the cats fur at the same time with a flea powder, this will kill off any dormant eggs which may have lodged themselves in the fur. All the cats bedding and usual sleeping places need to be thoroughly washed and cleaned and the home should also be treated with a flea powder for the home. This will prevent any further re-infecting of your cat after treatments stops.
Other general care for your cat's ears should include:
Protecting them during the summer months from sunburn with a non-toxic sun cream. This is very important for cats with light coloured ears. These areas are very prone to skin cancers and many cats in hotter climates end up having to have their ears amputated.
Make sure the ears are clear of any debris such as grass seed. If debris is left in the ear it can cause fungal or bacterial infections
Watching for any signs of imbalance or apparent dizziness in your cat. This could indicate an inner ear problem that will need urgent treatment by a vet.