Treating ear mites
Ear mites are tiny parasites—small enough to fit on the head of a pin—that incubate and grow in the canals of cats' ears. Like fleas, they are distressingly itchy and can cause cats to vigorously shake their head and scratch at their ears. They may also flatten and tuck their ears back or cry out if you touch them. Mite-filled ears can give off a foul odor and have a buildup of brownish or black specks that resemble coffee grounds.
Ear mites are a common problem, easily spread from cat to cat or contracted from outdoor animals. But they're also easy to treat. Begin with a visit to the vet to help prevent any permanent injury, such as a ruptured eardrum. You can expect your vet to use an otoscope to look deep inside your cat’s ear canal. If mites are detected, the ears will be flushed and cleaned and medicated drops will be administered. Your cat’s tail may also need to be cleaned—mites are prone to migration and your cat’s tail rubs again his ears when he sleeps.
Your vet will likely schedule a follow-up appointment and provide you with instructions for continuing to clean your cat at home. You’ll also want to clean the cat’s bedding and consider using a flea prevention medication if you don’t already—they can help prevent ear mites as well.