According to ASPCA, casual contact with infected animals can give a cat ear mites, as this parasite is highly contagious. WebMD adds that ear mites are often passed from mother cats to their kittens while the young animals are still in the nest.
petMD states that not only do ear mites pass easily from mother cats to newborns, but that the parasites can also travel across species. Although humans are not preyed upon by ear mites, domestic dogs are also a common host and can cross-infect cats that come into contact with them. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, other animals besides dogs and cats can harbor these parasites, namely rabbits and ferrets.
ASPCA notes that while this is true, it is much more common for cats to host ear mites and that the parasites represent more than half of all ear infection cases in cats. ASPCA also states that while all cats can be infected by ear mites, two groups are especially prone to them: young cats and outdoor cats. VCA Animal Hospitals note that while ear mites can survive for a limited time outside their hosts, the parasites spread via direct exposure to infected animals not by general exposure to an environment where infected animals may roam.