Can Indoor Cats Get Ear Mites?

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All 4 of my cats were rescues and all 4 had ear mites when I brought them home. When we took them to the vet for their initial exams, the vet asked us if they would be indoor or outdoor. We opted for indoor only. The chance of them getting ear mites again was next to nothing.

So, can indoor cats get ear mites? Ear mites are the most common mite that can cause problems with cats indoor or outdoor, as well as with humans. These small parasites, called Otodectes Cynotis will live inside the ear canal of a cat. These mites will live and feed on your cats ear wax or dirt in your cat’s ear.

You can get Hartz ear mite treatment for cats and kitten right here.

Ok, let’s break down your questions and take them one at a time.

Here we go.

Little Kitten Scratching From Ear Mites

How do cats get ear mites?

While it is obviously more difficult for indoor cats to get parasites such as fleas and ear mites, it can happen.

Both of these are easily transmissible.

Ear mite life cycle?

Ear mites survive for about three weeks, so they can come in on bedding or from outside.

Anything outside your house can get in your house, even if it’s difficult.

I had an older cat who never went outside and I was debating on not doing her regular vaccines, or at least not rabies – more because she hated trips in the car and I didn’t want to put her through the drive.

But the vet said, “What if a bat got in your house?” and of course I decided to keep on with her vaccines.

She didn’t just “talk” like some cats do – she yelled, and I swear her yell sounded like a particular four-letter word, and I avoided eye contact with the driver of any car next to mine on the way to the vet, lest they think I was the one yelling and cursing.

Now that I think about it, the possibility that my the fellow drivers thought there was someone in the back seat that they couldn’t see who was yelling and cursing like that was probably as bad, if not worse.

So yes, all cats are they inside or out can get ear mites though ones who go outside or interact with other cats have a much higher risk of them.

Ear mites are so easily passed between cats that if one is diagnosed with them, you can just assume everyone has them and treat accordingly.

In the video below:

Dr. Jones gives a brief description of ear mites and their history, then gets into natural remedies to help get rid of them:


If your cat is scratching at her ears and crying out in pain, ear mites are probably the cause but don’t diagnose on your own – cats have wonderful, weird, and complicated ears and there could be issues going on in them that need to be diagnosed professionally and treated quickly, or your cat may have permanent issues.

Wonder, weird, and complicated ears?

There are some myths about how cats balance (an old wives tale is that they use their whiskers but their whiskers actually serve another amazingly complicated purpose – and no it is not to measure if their bodies will fit through openings; that is yet another myth.)

Cats balance with their ears. 

No, not on their ears – with their ears.

They have a structure inside each ear the helps them determine the level of a surface and maintain their balance.

Have you seen a carpenter’s spirit or bubble level?

It is sort of like that, and it helps them do those amazing acrobatics.

Have you ever seen a cat jump down from a high height, climb or land an amazing leap and then shake their heads?  

They are resetting their interior level sensing organ.

Isn’t that amazing?

Cat Ears Are So Amazing!

So, if cats are having ear issues, have a vet take a look at it and treat it as a serious issue.

Cats rely strongly on three major senses:

  1. hearing
  2. smell
  3. and their sixth sense: which we humans can only guess is between those two.  (When they open their mouth partway and inhale, often with their eyes closed, they are using this special extra sense.)

Their eyesight isn’t actually that acute, they use their other senses far more.

So if anything affects your cat’s ears, get him into the vet for a checkup.

Any issues with the complicated inner ears need to be dealt with by a professional and, even if it is something as simple as ear mites, a cat can shake his head really hard after scratching and cause an ear hematoma.

What is a hematoma?

It’s when the ears swell up with blood and when the blood vessels in their ears rupture.

The blood vessels are those little red lines you see in the delicate skin in your cat’s ears.

If these ruptures, the ear itself fills up with blood and swells up like a pillow.

A hard, blood-filled pillow.

While the hematoma itself isn’t an urgent health issue – they do heal fairly well.

The blood inside the rupture doesn’t always reabsorb and it can lead to cats having a crinkled appearance to their ears and the change in ear shape and mobility can adversely affect their hearing.

Below is the video (mind you its a bit graphic) this vet shows you what a hematoma looks like and how you can treat it:


Cat ear mites treatment?

So, if your indoor cat has any ear issues:

  • Get him to a vet and make sure it isn’t serious and if you need a diagnosis. (you don’t have to use the conventional treatments, there are natural treatments)
  • If it’s ear mites, treat all the cats in your house every week for three weeks. (a few solutions below)
  • Wash any of their bedding that is washable in hot water as well during this period, just to clear the problem up faster.

You don’t have to get rid of anything that can’t be washed or anything, it is just good to wash what you can to keep reinfection down and help clear things up as soon as possible.

Ear mites only have about a three-week lifespan anyway, so any not reproducing in the cat’s ears will die off quickly.

Home remedies for ear mites in cats:

First things first, before applying any of these natural type treatments please make sure you clean your cat’s ears first.

Here is a great way to clean and sooth their ears before the work begins on treatments:

  1. Use olive oil and pour into their ears – using your thumb to rub gently (this will smother the mites.)
  2. Then go ahead and begin the process of cleaning them out with a q-tip (make sure not to go deep into their ears!)

I found one remedy from this site:

  • Using infusions of yellow root extract (Yellow Dock Root to make a tincture.) She tells on how to make your own tincture from the post and also states to dilute the oil as to not burn your cat’s ears.
  • This is a great site with holistic home remedies as well: Live A Little Longer

As always, please consult your vet before ANY treatment you decide to use… especially if you decide to go the traditional medicinal route from the ve.


Can I get ear mites from my cat?

Yes, you can… sort of.

Ear mites can live on humans, but we aren’t their preferred habitat, and we don’t have the right ear shape, depth and temperature so they don’t prefer us as hosts.

They can live on us, but they aren’t happy about it.

So if your cats have ear mites and are scratching like mad, and they sleep on the pillow your head sleeps on, and your ears are itching like mad, too – then have your doctor take a look and see.

With just general exposure to them by living in the same area, you probably won’t get them, unless you infect yourself on purpose.

Infect me on purpose?  WHAT?  Who would do that?

Well, most people wouldn’t, I would hope but I did have a veterinarian tell me about another veterinarian who gave himself ear mites on purpose.

That vet was studying ear mites, their life cycle, and growth and looking for new treatments and he realized he couldn’t really ask the cats how they felt over time, so he took some cotton swabs, dug around to get some ear mites on them, and infected his own ears to study them from a human’s eye or ear view.

Afterward, he wrote a study on it that my vet had read and led to him sharing this story – I did not read the study myself but I do believe it was legitimate as the source sharing the information was.

That vet did cure himself after a time of the study and wrote first hand… first ear about it, and maybe advanced science and improved the lives of many cats.

While you think about that, I’m going to go scratch my ears, because writing this made them really itch for some reason.

4 thoughts on “Can Indoor Cats Get Ear Mites?”

  1. Melanie Sinfield Pugh

    Interesting post. My indoor cat had ear mites once but absolutely hated the treatment. It didn’t take him long to realise that, when the medicine bottle came out, it was time to run and hide. Trying to coax him out from under the bed was nigh on impossible until, that is, the cheese appeared. The mites did go quickly unlike his mistrust of the medicine bottle which lasted for the rest of his life.

    1. As far as having to use any certain oil…the answer is definitely not!! I mean the only thing any oil is doing is exacyly what Sandy Copeland said in her post above..SUFFOCATING the parasites-(it’s a flea remedy, too)! Try to be cautious; you don’t want to use a caustic or poisonous oils. Obviously. So, yeah butter, baby oil, Coconut oil, bees wax…even honey or anything else that will create a barrier… Just Don’t Forget Allergies. Good Luck!!! Talk about joining the hunt…?

  2. Willow Blackwell

    I’ve recently seen my cat scratching its ears with its paw, which happens constantly throughout the day. I thought it was just his normal behavior until yesterday after opening his ears I discovered there were ear mites. I am really shocked and very sorry for my cat, she must have been itchy and very uncomfortable. The most obvious sign of a cat’s ear mites is the cat won’t stop scratching its ear, hair loss, ear infection, and the ear having bad odor characters are fairly easy to recognize.

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