As owner of Dr. Jennifer’s Ragdolls, a breeding cattery located near Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Jennifer Creed has encountered and managed numerous conditions in both cats and kittens. Also a practicing veterinarian, she has treated many cats with ear mites and other health problems.
A common infection in cats, ear mites are tiny creatures that take up residence in a cat’s ear, feasting on the oils and wax there. Although they are too small to be easily seen by the human eye, their symptoms are quite noticeable. Cats with ear mites will scratch and rub at their ears and will shake their heads compulsively. The ear may secrete a strong-smelling substance that resembles coffee grounds. The cat may also develop skin infections and hair loss, and it may scratch at its ears so severely that the blood vessels inside rupture.
To diagnose ear mites, a veterinarian will take a sample of the observable discharge. This helps the veterinarian to identify the mites and to rule out bacterial infection. He or she will also likely take skin scrapings to analyze any dermatological symptoms. In addition, a diagnostic exam for ear mites will involve comprehensive blood work to screen for any other illnesses.