If your cat has Black Spots or Brown Spots in his ears, that will probably be Ear Mites, it's the most common cause of ears infection in cats.
What are the Black Spots?
Ear Mites are little creatures that inhabit our felines skin, they migrate to the ear canal and feed off ear wax and skin oils, an adult mite lives for approximately two months, multiplying quickly.
The eggs take four days to hatch and further three weeks to become an adult and start breeding.
The most common species in veterinary medicine is "Otodectes Cynotis", it can present as an intense itching in one or both ears. An unusually dark colored ear wax called cerumen it's usually produced, also the ear starts to smell funny.
The most common lesion that leads us to think about ear mites is an open or crusted skin wound at the back or base of the ear, this bruise is caused by the attempt to relieve the itching.
Usually cats have a defense system against it, but, when, for some reason the cat has it's immune system injured (for stress, sadness, changing of environment, another cat or pet added to the house, jealousy or any other change in general), those creatures go from the skin to the ears, and it can cause a lot of pain and physical discomfort.
If not treated can lead to a severe ear inflammation and in some cases to hearing loss or ear damage from scratching, so be alert for the following symptoms:
- Look for excess wax. The ear mites provoke the lining of the ear canal to produce excessive amounts of wax. This wax is typically a dark brown/ black color, and can sometimes look like waxy dirt in the ear. A cat with healthy ears will have minimal earwax. If you see something that looks like coffee grounds or flecks of black dirt in the ear, this is a sign of a possible ear health problem. The cat's ear produces this wax as a defense against the impact of the infestation. You may also notice a foul smell coming from the ears.
- Watch for scratching or shaking. Ear mites cause irritation, and so the cat is likely to scratch repeatedly at the ear with a back paw and/or to frequently shake its head. The cat's claws may break the skin surface, leading to additional soreness, bleeding, and in some cases bacterial infections.
- Observe the cat's posture. A cat with ear mites will often hold its head to one side. This is a general sign of ear discomfort and not limited to ear mites. Regardless of the cause, if your cat frequently holds its head to one side, you should get it checked by a vet.
- Check your other animals. If you have more than one pet and suspect one of them has ear mites, check all their ears. This is because ear mites spread easily between animals if they sleep together or groom each other.
Unfortunately, ear mites are a very common parasite in cats, and they can be caught from dogs, they can be mistaken by ear wax (cat's usually don't have ear wax), that's why is so important that when you see the symptoms you take your cat to the vet, they can confirm the diagnosis under a microscope.
Your vet may take skin scrapings for laboratory analysis, take ear swabs and place them in mineral oil to identify the mites under the microscope, and/or use an otoscope (an instrument used to look inside the ear) to look for mites in your cat’s ear canals.
If you want to check for mites at home, place a chunk of debris collected from the outer ear canal on a dark background. Live mites look like white, moving specks about the size of a pinhead. If you see them (using a magnifying glass helps), you know your cat has ear mites.
If not, you can’t completely rule them out because the sample you took may not have contained live mites, that’s why the vet it’s so important.
Are ear mites contagious?
Yes, ear mites are contagious to other cats and dogs in the household, even if other pets aren’t showing symptoms of ear mites, it’s essential that they are also treated at the same time.
As said before, cats are the most prone to catching ear mites due to their lifestyle habits, especially the ones that use to walk outside.
We should strongly recommend that you don’t let your cat get used to going for a ride outside unless it is with you.
Cat’s that have an outside routine tend to live less because they can get several diseases, they can be assaulted by mean humans or even dogs and other cats, so if you want your furry friend to spend the much time as it can with you, keep it indoors!
Now, you are probably asking yourself if it is possible for a human being to catch ear mites from their pet. The answer is: Only in extremely rare cases, cat owners have been known to develop skin rashes if their pet has ear mites.
Ear mites do not survive for long on humans so they do not cause long-term infections in people.
Very rarely, however, ear mites may transiently hang out on humans—on arms or extremities—and produce a transient rash.
How can I Treat for Ear Mites?
Many spots on flea treatments also prevent and treat ear mites, and - if recommended by your vet - this is by far and away from the easiest way to protect your pet from the parasites. One or two applications is usually enough and they are a lot less stressful for your pet – and for you – than ear drops.
Although spot-on treatments are the most popular form of treatment, ear drops are also available. Some of these require at least three weeks of treatment as the medication cannot kill the eggs of the parasites, which take 21 days to develop into adult mites. If using these treatments, it’s therefore crucial that you use them, as prescribed, for the recommended time period and dosage schedule, that is usually a twice a day treatment for a week or more. Though more time-consuming to apply, there are some medications that can calm inflammation and treat secondary bacterial or yeast infections.
Other topical treatments only need to be used for 10 to 14 days and are much stronger, so kill the eggs as well as the adult mites and include medication to tackle the infection caused by the parasites.
Always consult your vet on the best and most suitable treatment to use.
Ear mites can be treated on an outpatient basis.
Older and over-the-counter ear mite treatments involve putting medication in your cat’s ears once a day for 10 to 30 days, depending on the product you use. If you try to treat your cat’s ear mites with one of these medications, follow the label instructions closely.
Missing just a dose or two can result in your cat still having mites after you are “done” with the treatment.
Newer ear medications for cats can kill ear mites with a single dose applied to their skin. These simple treatments for ear mites are only available through veterinarians.
One month after the beginning of the treatment, your veterinarian may schedule a follow-up appointment to determine whether the mites have been eradicated and to clean out the ears again, if necessary.
It is important to strictly follow your vet's recommended
Treatment at Home
Regardless of the type of ear mite medication your pet receives, cleaning out all the debris from within a cat’s ear canals is an important part of treatment.
Your veterinarian may recommend that he or she thoroughly flush out your cat’s ears or provide you with an appropriate product and instruct you on how to clean the ear at home.
Before medicating the cat, gather everything you'll need on a table or other flat surface.
This includes a large towel to spread over the tabletop to stop the cat slipping, the ear drops, and a few cotton balls.
If possible, enlist a friend's help to hold the cat so you have both hand's free to apply the drops.
Clean the cat's ears, they must be clean before administering the medication, you should do it with cotton balls, don't use Q-tips because the cat can move and you can stick it into the auricular canal causing damage, also never push the cotton balls into the ear canal.
If the cat moves during this step, it can be easy to accidentally push the cotton bud too deep, which may hurt the cat.
Clean away any wax that is lifted up to the surface.
Apply drops. Place the cat on a table with its head facing toward you, and have the assistant gently hold the cat's shoulder down to keep it from moving.
Remove the top from the dropper bottle and drip the required number of drops into the cat's ear canal.
Give the ear a gentle rub with your fingers and thumb, which helps the drops mix with the waxy discharge and spread deeper into the ear canal.
If the cat is resistant to having the medication applied, you can wrap the cat in a bath towel to immobilize it.
Repeat these procedures daily for the prescribed number of days. If the cat is still showing signs of irritation at the end of the treatment course, take the cat back to the vet for additional assistance.
Discontinue treatment and contact your veterinarian if the cat develops a head-tilt during the course of the treatment.
Some cats are sensitive to the active ingredients in the ear drops and can develop balance problems as a result of the medication, even if their eardrums are undamaged. If this happens let your vet know immediately.
Preventing Ear Mites at Home
After beginning treatment, your pet should quickly start to feel relief. The excessive scratching, head shaking, and ear discharge should begin to subside after a few days.
Ear mites are highly contagious and can be easily transmitted to other pets, including, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and ferrets but they do not spread to people under normal circumstances as we said before.
Ear mites are transmitted through social interaction, such as sleeping or playing together. For this reason, all animals in a household must be treated for ear mites, even if only one or two have symptoms of an active infection.
The environment should also be cleaned. Wash items like pet bedding in hot water and then run them through a hot dryer until they are completely dry.
Thoroughly vacuum areas where pets spend a lot of time.
After the conclusion of treatment, continue to check your cat’s ears regularly for signs of ear mites or other problems. Look for discharge or redness within the ear canal and head shaking or scratching around the ears.
Possible Complications of Ear Mites
If your cat has a hypersensitivity reaction to ear mites (an immune reaction to the mites that is stronger than normal), it can result in intense irritation of the external ear and surrounding tissues. In this case, your vet will prescribe more aggressive measures to treat the infestation.
A cat that has suffered from ear mites for a long time can develop, damage the ear canals and eardrum and result in permanent hearing loss, can also cause inflammatory polyps (i.e. lumps or growths) in their ear canals, and blood blisters on their ear flaps due to constant rubbing and scratching.
In addition, the external ear may become inflamed and produce pus, or the cat's eardrum may be torn, resulting in balance issues and other problems that require professional veterinary help.
There also been diagnosed cases of blindness since the cats use their claws to scratch and it can slip into the eyes, injuring them.