Mites in Cats: How to Recognize and Treat Mites

Eight legs and less than a millimeter: despite their small body size, mites are not only annoying in infested cats, they can also make cats sick.

Different Types of Mites in Cats

Infestation With Ear Mites (Ear Mange)

Ear mites belong to the group of mange mites and are very common in cats. They specialize in the humid and warm environment of the organ. They emit small stitches in the cat’s ears that become inflamed and stimulate the formation of wax in the ears. If ear mites spread unhindered in the cat, it can lead to an inflammation of the middle ear or meninges. Cats with ear mites often have a fever, behavioral changes, and dangerous seizures as a result.

(Autumn) Grass Mites

Grass mites (Neotrombicula autumnalis) are vegetarians. Thus the cat would be of no interest to them as a host. But their larvae feed on cell juices and live parasitically. If you look closely, you can see the 0.3-millimeter dots on the cat’s skin or in its fur. While some animals and humans react strongly, others show no symptoms when they come into contact with autumn grass mite larvae. The good thing: The first hoar frost at the end of October reliably kills the annoying larvae.

Predatory Mites

Predatory mites (Cheyletiella) grow up to half a centimeter in size. Some representatives of this species are visible as “walking scales” because of their white color. In cats and dogs, predatory mites mainly attack the head and torso – places that the animals cannot lick off well. Although often host-specific, these mites are transmissible to humans.

How Contagious are Cat Mites?

In general, if you suspect mites in your cat, act quickly. In this way, you not only prevent spreading but also bring relief to your four-legged friend.

From Cat to Cat

Outdoor cats can be infected with ear mites and the highly contagious predatory mites, especially through other cats. Grass mites do not change hosts, so they are not contagious.

Between Cat and Dog

Ear mites and predatory mites can migrate from cats to dogs and vice versa in direct body contact. Grass mite larvae, on the other hand, are not transferable. Be careful if you have several animals in the household. It often happens that outdoor cats and a dog living in the same house are affected by grass mites at the same time.

From Cats to People

Humans are not suitable hosts for ear mites, which is why you cannot infect your cat. However, humans can be intermediate hosts, that is, they can transport mites from cat to cat. Cheyletiella mites are contagious to humans too.

Autumn grass mite larvae do not migrate from host to host. However, if you are in the same yard as your cat, you too can be infested. Mites can cause skin irritation and allergies in humans.

Symptoms: Itching, Hair Loss

What all mites have in common is that they cause severe itching when the infestation is severe. With ear mites, cats often shake their head and scratch themselves. Terrible behavior and crusts in and around the ear are also possible symptoms. Later on, purulent fluids may leak out.

Predatory mites and grass mites also cause severe itching. Persistent scratching can lead to sore skin and painful inflammation. Dandruff and eczema can develop in the affected areas. Bald spots in the fur are not uncommon.

Mites and Fleas

Fleas produce symptoms similar to mites in cats. You can see them with the naked eye. You can use a flea comb to find out whether your cat is harboring fleas: place a white, damp kitchen towel under the cat and comb it with the narrow-toothed comb. If tiny dots fall out of the fur and turn rusty red when lightly pressed on the damp paper, it is flea excrement.

Diagnosis at the Vet: Mites Under the Microscope

If one or more of the symptoms described occurring, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately. Because mites are not only very uncomfortable for your cat, if left untreated they can also be dangerous. Only your veterinarian should make a clear diagnosis and initiate therapy based on this. To do this, he will examine a sample of your cat’s skin, hair, or ear wax under a microscope.

Treating Mites in Cats

It is always advisable to consult the veterinarian prior to initial treatment. He will suggest the right medication for your cat and effectively treat any existing inflammation.

Anti-mite Drugs: Spot-on for Cats

Liquid so-called spot-on preparations can be used both preventively and in the event of acute mite infestation. Put precisely (“spot-on”) on your cat’s neck, they reliably protect your animal from mites. Consult your vet for advice. Important for mite and flea control: Products for dogs are not automatically suitable for cats. Because the active ingredient permethrin is very effective against mites, fleas, and other parasites. But unlike dogs, cats lack the enzyme to break down the poison – a single-use can be fatal for velvet paws.

Bathe the Cat? Shampoo, Powder & Spray

If a spot-on powder, spray, or shampoo is required in addition to or as an alternative to a spot-on, your veterinarian will advise you precisely. For example, it may be necessary to treat the area or bathe your cat if the infestation is stubborn. Here, too, it applies that dog and cat products are not necessarily interchangeable. In spite of effective means, your cat can always get new infections with grass mites after trips out in the late summer.

Treating Mites in Cats Naturally: Home Remedies and Homeopathy

If your cat has mites, you should treat it by conventional means as directed by a veterinarian. Because a mite infestation can be very agonizing for the infected animals. You cannot get the little nuisances under control effectively with home remedies.

Tip: Due to the lauric acid it contains, coconut oil can have a preventive effect. With sensitive animals, it can make sense to rub the ears regularly with coconut oil or to let the cat lick a small dollop of coconut oil every day in late summer. In addition, you can strengthen your cat’s immune system with homeopathic remedies – please contact your veterinarian or animal health practitioner.

Conclusion: Fight Mites in Cats Safely

If you suspect mites are making themselves comfortable on your cat, caution should be exercised. You should act quickly. This is how you protect yourself and your animal companion from complications and painful skin injuries. If you take consistent action, you can usually get rid of mites in cats quickly and easily.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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