Symptoms of ear mites in cats include head shaking, hair loss, dermatitis, brown or black discharge and too much scratching of the ears, according to WebMD. Other symptoms include ear inflammation, pungent odor, scratches around the ear and blockage of the ear canal with substances that resemble coffee grounds.
Otodectes cynotis are small parasites with eight legs that commonly live in the ears of cats while feeding on wax and oils in the ear canal, states WebMD. The parasites usually irritate the ears of cats and cause severe skin or ear infections, which are usually characterized by a dark secretion. In serious cases, dirt that looks like coffee grounds completely blocks the cat’s ear canal.
While cats of all ages are prone to ear mites, kittens and outdoor cats are more likely to get infected, notes WebMD. A possible complication of ear mite infection is aural hematoma, a condition where the blood vessels inside the animal’s ear rupture due to repeated scratching or head shaking.
Anyone who suspects that her cat has ear mites should bring the animal to a veterinarian for a thorough diagnosis, recommends WebMD. A veterinarian may have to take a swab sample of the cat’s ear secretions and examine the fluid under a microscope. Treatment involves prescription topical medications, gentle cleaning using an ear cleanser, medicated ear drops or antibiotics.