Your Pet Question:
My cat is always trying to scratch in her ears and shakes her head violently all the time. Could she have ear mites? And if so, how do I get rid of them?
Dianne Loyer, Fort Saskatchewan, ALTA
The Expert Says:
There are many reasons that a cat might be shaking its head–ear mites are only one of the possibilities. Ear infections, a piece of foreign material, and allergies are some other possible causes of scratching and head shaking. I highly recommend taking your cat to a veterinarian for examination. To diagnose ear mites and infections, a swab of material will be taken from your cat’s ear(s), stained, and then examined under the microscope. This will allow the vet to identify the problem and prescribe the appropriate treatment. There are many treatments for mites available, some over-the-counter and some be prescription only. Over-the-counter preparations do not tend to be as effective as prescription treatments and often need to be continued for several weeks in order to completely clear the infestation. Ear mites are highly contagious to other pets in the house, and if your cat has ear mites, all pets in-contact with her will require treatment as well.
Rebecca Corrigan, DVM, MSc, CVA works at Acadia Veterinary Clinic in Saskatoon, SK.