Can Indoor Cats Get Ear Mites?

Can Indoor Cats Get Ear Mites?

Cats are very clean animals; in fact, they spend at least 50% of their waking hours just grooming themselves or other cats. As much as they clean their body, paws and faces, they could sometimes use a little help since they cannot reach every body part. Their ears, for instance, are susceptible to ear infections and parasites, such as ear mites. Although less susceptible than outdoor cats, your indoor cat is not immune to infection by these pests.

Can indoor cats get ear mites?

Yes, indoor cats can get ear mites from the toys and bedding of infected cats, especially in a multi-cat household. They can also catch them from the environment. Ear mites do not infect only one species, so your cat can also pick them up from dogs, if you have one. These parasites can be spread through direct contact with other animals, or picked up from the environment of other animals. 

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are near-microscopic parasites that infect both cats and dogs. They resemble tiny, white dots, but are very difficult to see with the naked eye. They live on the skin of a cat’s ear canal and feed on ear wax and skin oils. Adult ear mites can live for around two months once they have reached the adult stage, and they reproduce quickly. 

It only takes four days for eggs to hatch, and three weeks to develop into adults that are ready to breed.  The common type of ear mite is Otodectes cynotis, which feeds by piercing the thin skin of the cat’s ear canal. 

Signs that your cat has ear mites

  • Your cat is shaking her head and scratching her ears violently. 
  • There is redness in or around the ears. 
  • You can see a dry, crumbly, foul-smelling substance resembling coffee grounds.
  • There is waxy debris in your cat’s ears. 
  • There are sores and hair loss around the ears due to constant scratching. 

Ear mites are highly contagious and can cause severe head shaking, itching and discomfort for cats. They can easily spread from one cat to another through physical contact when infected cats come into contact with other cats. These parasites cause double ear infections for both cats and kittens. Outdoor cats are at greater risk, since they are more in contact with other infected animals.

Ear mites cannot survive very long in the environment, but canines can become infected if they are in close contact with infected felines. If your cat is being treated for ear mites, isolate her if you have other pets, like dogs. Consult your vet if you suspect that your cat has ear mites. Cats often develop secondary bacterial or fungal ear infections that require medication. Prompt treatment is essential as the infection could lead to hearing loss. 

Ear mite treatment options for cats 

Spot-on treatment 

Spot-on flea treatments can treat and prevent ear mites. This is the easiest way to protect your cat from parasites and is recommended by vets. Follow your vet’s advice on the frequency and duration of treatment with this medication. 

Ear drops 

Ear drops can soothe the pain and inflammation caused by ear mites. Use as prescribed and follow your vet’s advice on the recommended duration and frequency of use. 

Can humans get ear mites from cats?

Yes, humans can get ear mites from cats, but only in rare cases. The ear mites that infect cats are different from those that affect humans. Nevertheless, cat owners may develop skin rashes if their cats have ear mites. 


Cats are considered very clean animals, and they spend half of their daily waking hours just grooming themselves. Nevertheless, they may still be prone to parasites such as ear mites. These microscopic bugs thrive in a cat’s ear canal and can cause severe itching and infection. To treat and prevent ear mites, use spot-on treatments or ear drops, and be sure to isolate your infected cat so she cannot pass the mites to other pets in your home.

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