How to Tell if Your Cat Has Ear Mites? 6 Signs to Know!

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

how to tell if your cat has ear mites

Is your cat scratching ears and shaking head way too much than normal these past few days? What you’ll have in mind first is maybe fleas in cat ears? But there’s also a possibility she might have ear mites and is helpless right now.

Ear mites are common for felines, but just because they’re common doesn’t mean they have to endure and suffer from that irritating itchiness it is causing.

So, how to tell if your cat has ear mites? Read below.

What Are Ear Mites?


What exactly are they? Among so many pests to bother our pets, these mites, as they said, are the most harmless of all. But our cats’ behavior towards it says otherwise. It’s one of the most common ectoparasites found on pets; the number one pest is fleas.

Ear mites are crab-like parasites found in the ear canal and are feeding on our poor cat’s earwax. And if left untreated, there will be an infestation.

They don’t have an exemption and can infest at any age, which makes kittens vulnerable with the weak immunity that makes them the target because they don’t scratch as hard as the big ones, so they tend to multiply at a higher rate with them.

How to Know if Your Cat Has Ear Mites


Here are the following signs and symptoms that are noticeable in our pet cats who had ear mites but first, do your own observation and check for ear mites in cats.

Signs of ear mites in cats

  • Cat keeps scratching his ear: Our feline friend will scratch their ear or the back of it as if they will never stop. They are little crablike organisms; imagine them walking all over inside your cat’s ear; how irritating it is.
  • Hair loss: They tend to shake their heads frequently, resulting in hair loss.
  • Dark Otic Debris: Increased ear wax production with blackish or red-brown and flaky discharge.
  • Ear Inflammation: Due to excessive ear scratching, the ears then become inflamed from the inside to the outside around the ears, leading to cat ear mite infection.
  • Scabs: When it gets severe, scabbing begins around the ears, making it more unbearable and itchier.
  • Ears smell foul: Cat’s ear smells funny. Try to sniff around its ear to confirm. If it does smell bad, there is a big chance that ear mites have already caused an infection.

It is important to tell the vet all the cat ear mites symptoms you observed for him to diagnose your pet properly.

It is much harder to notice early stage cat ear mites in kittens for they are not as aware as the adults, but if they do get it.

If you are lucky enough to see signs of kitten ear mites symptoms, it will be easy for you to eliminate them.

Also, be informed. Other conditions act similarly to ear mites. There are a lot of other possible causes, and it’s best to take them to your vets and discuss your concern if any uncertainty occurs.

  • It may produce black discharge, which may be caused by yeast infection.
  • Allergies you are not aware of yet that cause the scabbing and scratching around ears first.
  • Hypothyroidism also causes inflammation around their ears.



How do cats get ear mites?

Ear mites don’t just appear like infections. Ear mites are contagious and are passed from one infected cat to another. They might get it through socializing with other cats. That’s why cats who stay indoors are at low risk of getting them.

Still, there might be an occasion that they had contact with your clothes that has been contaminated with it by cuddling with one outside your home.

So frequently cleaning the place they sleep on and you being cautious about the possibility of being the carrier is a must.

How to treat ear mites for cats?

If you see your cat keep scratching his ear, you need to check its ears to confirm an infestation. Only then will you know how to tell if your cat has ear mites. Check the list of signs and symptoms above.

It is definitely best to take your pet cats to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis; as I mentioned, other diseases have the same symptoms. And there, you can start treating them properly.

  • At the veterinary clinic:

The vet will clean the ears to take off all of the crusty discharge that is piled inside its ears. Spot-on flea medication will then be given or prescribed to prevent and treat ear mites.

In case the vet didn’t find ear mites inside. He will take a swab test from the ear to look under a microscope to be sure if there aren’t any ear mites present, for sometimes you can’t know just by looking at it barely.

If ear mites infestation is confirmed and you wish to treat them at home. There are options you can do.

  • You can use commercial Ear drops/ Ear cleaner consistently for several days to remove any recurring buildups.
  • After cleaning it, apply the ointment prescribed by your vet.
  • You can bathe your pet cats with OTC shampoos and anti-parasitic creams to help you more with your goal of eliminating them.

These may take about 3 weeks because ear mites can also hang on the fur around the ears and hatch their eggs, multiply again and finally die after reproducing unbelievably fast.

Patience is what you need during this process because if ear mites are not fully eradicated, they will just come back again and again.

Can Humans Get Ear Mites?

Unfortunately, YES! But it is very rare for ear mites to prefer your pets over you! With that said, if you feel any symptoms associated with your ears and are aware that your household pets had or still have it, it is better to seek professional help.

If you suspect you have it, clean all your beddings and linens to stop them from spreading more all over your home.

How do you know if your cat is free from ear mites?

  • Your cat is no longer scratching her ears severely
  • She is no longer shaking her head
  • Her ears don’t smell bad anymore
  • And most of all, she is back to being playful and is more relaxed when sleeping.


It is best to understand the root cause before making assumptions. Having full knowledge now of what ear mites, what they can do, way to tell if your cat has ear mites and how you can eliminate them is an advantage.

Our pet cat’s comfort is always a priority, and now that you know this one pest that could harm them makes you a more responsible and prepared “fur parent.”

Having all the information still isn’t enough because you still need the professional opinion only the vet can give you to diagnose and treat our beloved feline family member properly.

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