Cats & ear mites

jonerebSeptember 2, 2011

What is the black tarry substance in a cats' ear?

I'm cleaning their ears about once a week or so. Each time, I find a treasure trove of black gunk. I'm using mineral spirits, cotton swabs and cotton balls. After cleaning, I add a drop of mineral spirits to their ears and gently massage in an attempt to smother any remaining mites.

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jonereb

I should have said "I'm using mineral oil"- not mineral spirits.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 5:54PM
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sylviatexas1

Mineral oil ought to work just fine.

The little buggers are aerobic;
like us, they suffocate if you cut off their oxygen supply.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 5:59PM
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calliope

One of my new kitties came to me with a good case of ear mites, and he's been a hard one to get a handle on, but he's finally cleared up. Initially the vet gave me Otomite to use when I cleaned his ears once a week for five weeks. I can't say it helped and is an oil with pyrethrins in it. I was very faithful with cleaning his ears and using it. He is now on Revolution flea treatment and it's effective against ear mites too.

Some cats seem more prone to them than others and resistant to treatment. I had one feral cat whose case of mites spread from her ears to the areas around it, and it actually was causing hair loss. The vet finally put her on selemectin in the form of Revolution.

They really do need to be controlled, because the irritation they cause can set the groundwork for ear infections and even eventual deafness.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 1:11AM
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Meghane

It may be a bacterial or yeast infection and not mites at all. Best to have it checked out by a vet. The mineral oil should have worked by now.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 8:19PM
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michelle_phxaz

I agree with Meghane, they should be gone now.

I use olive oil, I have a rescue kitty and her gift to me was 5 kittens (she was pregnant when I got her, am getting her spayed in about 2 hours) but she spread them to her babies, I use several drops of olive oil in their ears and rub the oil down in the ear canal. The next day I use cotton swabs and cotton balls to start removing the gunk. Bleh. But the oil does help kill the mites and is not harmful in any way to any of the cats unlike the pesticides you can buy from the store.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 7:44AM
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jonereb

I've been using mineral oil once or twice a week. I've cleaned their ears probably 4 or 5 times total using cotton swabs and cotton balls. I'm not detecting any ear mites, but still getting plenty of gunk out of their ears. I even checked some of the gunk under my sons microscope - it's an elementary microscope but has enough magnification to see ear mites, I'd think. Didn't see anything moving. So why all the gunk? Ear wax? It's black and doesn't smell.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Meghane

Wax is yellow. Most likely either bacterial or yeast infection which is not cured by mineral oil. The cat still needs to see a vet.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2011 at 5:42PM
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jonereb

I took Sebastian to the vet this morning. He has a yeast infection in his ears. He is to be treated with Zymox Otic for 14 days. He also has irritable bowel syndrome which requires Prednisolone Syrup for 7 days, then every other day. I was also told to change his diet to dry lamb & rice. No wet food.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 8:29PM
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jeanie_beth

The best thing to kill ear mites with is ivermectin.I have wasted lots of money on those messy creams & ointments. Veterinarian finally told me what to do one day. Buy Ivomec (ivermectin) brand at a feed store such as Tractor Supply. DO NOT buy Ivomec Plus. 200 micrograms (mcg) placed on the shoulder blades of the cat like a top spot application once a month will kill ear mites, body mites, heart worms, & round worms. Cats can handle up to 400 mcg, but 200 mcg is sufficient.

200 mcg is a very small amount. Selamectin, the active ingredient in Revolution is a derivative of ivermectin (Ivomec brand).
If using a 1cc syringe fill syringe with Ivomec to the .03 or .3 on the syringe.

And remember 3ML = 3ccs

ML = CC's in medical syringe dosing.

Adult Dosage: 200 mcg

Kittens Dosage: Do Not use on Kittens unless they are at least 4 wks old,this is because of the blood brain barrier in kittens.
Remember, you are NOT injecting this--you are placing it on the shoulder blades of the cat, just like a Frontline or similar.

Ivomec comes in a sterile bottle and will require a syringe with needle to transfer a little bit from the sterile container to another sterile bottle with a lid on it. Once you have transferred some with a needle into a lidded bottle, throw the needle away and use the now needleless syringe to draw up 200 MICROGRAMS (mcg)--NOT milligrams (mg) and then squirt on shoulder blade of cat.

A bottle of Ivomec will last a LONG time--it's worth it!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 10:17PM
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lzrddr

I think instead of medicating your cat's ears yourself, I would ask your vet's opinion first. Though not really uncommon, ear mite infections are primarily problems with kittens and large, outdoor cat populations (and very rarely puppies). Most adult cats and about 99.9% of all adult dogs with dark waxy debris in their ears do NOT have ear mites. Most of these cats have yeast infections, usually secondary to some allergic or immune problem. And cleaning those cat's ears usually only makes them worse - cleaning is very traumatic to the delicate cells along an animal's ear canal, and often the result is more inflammation and the production of more wax, which is the last thing you want if your cat's ears are already full of wax. Your veterinarian will likely recommend a topical otic preparation with something for fungus and probably something for inflammation. If both ears are affected, sometimes some anti-inflammatory systemically can help. But do not go out buy a bottle of ivermectin for your cat based on it's having a lot of black waxy debris in the ears. It is most likely not ear mites.

I think ear mites is probably one of the single most overdiagnosed (by owners) diseases in both dogs and cats and at least 95%, of not closer to 99% of all cases of owner diagnosed ear mites in their pets have not been due to any mites at all. Still, every once in a while a puppy, or particularly a kitten, or pound cat, will come in with ear mites. The good thing about ear mites is they are incredibly easy to get rid of (unless you have a huge population of infected outdoor cats). So if I were a cat owner, I would much rather opt for it being ear mites than something like allergies as ear mites will be gone and never come back, while allergic ear problems are usually chronic and come back frequently, and can be very frustrating to 'cure'.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2011 at 12:07PM
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