Ear mites are microscopic but mighty; they create discomfort in your cat and can bring about serious skin and ear infections. Without longer treatment times, home remedies such as mullein and oregano oils, and yellow dock tincture, are typically not as effective against these stubborn parasites as prescription medicines. Your holistic or traditional veterinarian should diagnose the condition and assess your cat's ears to ensure that the eardrums have not ruptured.
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Signs of Infestation
Suspect ear mites if your cat constantly shakes her head or scratches her ears. You may detect a strong odor from her ears and a coffee-colored discharge. Other signs include hair loss, swelling and abnormal skin, with scabs, scratches or redness in or near the ear. Begin treatment promptly, as the mites are highly contagious to any other pets. They typically cannot, though, be transmitted to humans. More common in cats than in dogs, mites account for the majority of ear infections in cats. They can also lead to aural hematomas that may require surgical correction.
Before treating with any method, clean your cat's ears. If you have organic apple cider vinegar, dilute with an equal amount of purified water. Other options include witch hazel, hydrogen peroxide and green tea infusion. You have two cleaning method options: either saturate cotton balls to wipe the inside of the ears until the cotton comes out clean or pour the cleaning solution in a bottle and squirt it into the ears, followed by the cotton balls. If your cat won't let you touch her ears, seek veterinary assistance. Clean your cat's tail if she sleeps with her tail curled close to her ears.
Mullein, flowers from a wooly leafed plant, as well as diluted oregano oil and yellow dock tincture are natural, non-chemical treatment options. You can purchase mullein flowers in health food stores and make your own oil by seeping the flowers in a slow cooker with olive oil on low heat for a few hours. Dilute oregano oil in a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil. Apply the oil with a dropper directly into the ear daily for 21 to 30 days, or follow the dosing instruction from your holistic or homeopathic veterinarian. Obtain yellow dock tincture or make a tea from the roots; allow sufficient time to cool before dropping into your cat's ears. Using these remedies in conjunction with your vet's traditional treatments may bring better results; ear mites can be stubborn, and traditional treatments are largely considered safe for most pets.
Wash your cat's bedding while you're treating her ear mite infestation to prevent a reoccurrence. Following treatment, add weekly ear cleaning to your cat's schedule to prevent another infestation and to detect them early enough to prevent serious issues, and have her ears checked regularly at her veterinarian exams.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- ASPCA: Ear Mites
- PetMD: Ear Mites in Cats
- Doctors Foster and Smith, Pet Education: Ear Mite Medication Ingredients
- WebMD: Find a Vitamin or Supplement: Mullein
- Homeopathic Care for Cats & Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals; Donald Hamilton
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Yellow Dock
- Total Health: Pet Health Ear Mites, Scabies and Mange
- Janet Roark, DVM, Hill Country Mobile Veterinary Service
- University of Michigan, Health System: Mullein