Have you noticed that your cat has crusty, black gunk in one or both ears? Maybe this gunk has a softer texture, or perhaps it seems to be flaking off in little bits. Chances are, the black gunk is caused by ear mites. The gunk itself is often a mixture of mite feces and discharge that your cat's ear makes in response to irritation by the mites. So, what should you do about ear mites? Read on to find out.
How are ear mites diagnosed?
To ensure your cat is indeed suffering from infestation with ear mites, you should take him or her to the vet. Your vet can take a swab of your cat's ear secretions and look at them under the microscope. If mites are present, your vet should see them in the swabbed material. Mites can't be seen with the naked eye.
How are ear mites treated?
Once your vet confirms that your cat has ear mites, he or she will likely squeeze a special insecticide gel into your cat's ear. The vet might hold the ear shut for a few minutes to ensure the gel does not seep out. In some cases, the vet might use some swabs or cleansing cloths to clean the ear canal before the insecticide is applied.
One insecticide application is not always enough to kill tougher cases of ear mites. So, your vet will likely give you a second – and perhaps a third – dose to give your cat after a week or two. You'll squeeze this into your cat's ears in the same manner as the vet.
How do you know the ear mites are gone?
After your cat has been treated, watch for these symptoms:
- The re-appearance of black gunk in the ears.
- Your cat itching and rubbing its head and ears.
- An unwillingness to let you touch the ears.
These are signs that the treatment may not have been effective and that the ear mites are coming back. Talk to your vet; they may need to use a stronger insecticide.
How do you protect your cat from ear mites?
Keeping your cat away from others who may be infected is the key to preventing ear mites. Only board your cat at the cleanest, most pristine boarding facilities. Do not let him or her outside. If your cat does go outside or is boarded often, your vet may recommend administering insecticide ear drops every few months as a preventative measure. Some flea and tick repellent medications also repel ear mites.
For more information, contact a clinic like Elizabethton Veterinary Clinic.