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Otodectic mange in cats

Otodectic mange is the most frequent ear disease in outdoor cats and is caused by a microscopic mite, Otodectes cynotis.

Otodectic mange in cats

The disease is extremely contagious, and spreads by direct contact between cats. The disease is often seen in dogs as well, and it has also been described in humans.


The mites live inside the external ear canal and feed on the tissues and tissue fluids of the ear canal skin. As a result, large volumes of discharge is produced, and the animal experiences severe itching. Cats respond with vigorous ear shaking and scratching that may result in the development of sloughy lesions on the skin surrounding the concha. In severe cases, secondary bacterial and fungal infection may complicate the disease. In many cases, the owner will only notice that the cat keeps shaking its head, and its ears are full of brownish, blackish debris and discharge.


An “othaematoma”, or haematoma on the skin of the concha, may develop as a complication of the disease when a cushion-like, undulating swelling appears on the inner surface of the ear due to the mechanic effect of repeated ear shaking and scratching that may cause bleeding in the sub-epidermal connective tissue. In this case, surgical intervention might also become necessary.


The disease can be managed well enough if the owner takes the pet to the veterinary surgeon immediately after observing the described symptoms.


A basic element of the treatment is thorough cleansing of the ear. It is recommended to repeat this every few days, partly to allow the applied preparations get to the deepest parts of the ear canal, and partly to mechanically reduce the number of mites as well.


The second step of the treatment is to apply anti-mite preparations in the ear topically, and to administer spot-on preparations. These can be spread on the skin of the neck. Once absorbed, they exert an anti-mite effect in the ear canal as well. These preparations can be used for prevention when applied every four weeks.

 

Source: Murmuczok Veterinary Center

 

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