How Much Will It Cost to Treat Your Cat’s Ear Mites? The Price May Surprise You

What are ear mites in cats?

Ear mites, known scientifically as Otodectes cynotis, are tiny parasitic mites that live in the ear canals of cats, dogs, ferrets, and rabbits. The mites are just barely visible to the naked eye at 0.4 mm long. They feed on skin debris, oils, and wax in the ear canal (Source).

Cats typically get ear mites from close contact with another infected animal. The mites can spread through contact with bedding, grooming, and shaking heads. Mother cats can also pass ear mites to their kittens. The mites can cause intense itching, irritation, and inflammation in the ear canal (Source).

Common symptoms of ear mites in cats include excessive scratching at the ears, head shaking, dark discharge in the ears that looks like coffee grounds, redness and inflammation in the ear canal, and crusted debris buildup. Severe infestations can lead to ear hematomas, damage, and secondary bacterial or fungal infections (Source).

Diagnosing ear mites

Veterinarians diagnose ear mites by examining the cat’s ears with an otoscope, a tool that allows visualization of the ear canal. The otoscope’s light and magnification allow vets to look for signs of infestation like discharge, inflammation, and the presence of mites or eggs 1.

Vets may also take a sample of the discharge and examine it under a microscope to look for mites. The microscope allows vets to definitively diagnose an infestation by visualizing the microscopic mites, eggs, or fecal matter 2.

In severe infestations, vets may see mites crawling in the ears during the otoscope exam. But in milder cases, a microscope exam is often needed to confirm the diagnosis 3.

Ear mite treatment options

There are several treatment options for ear mites in cats that your veterinarian may recommend:

Medicated ear drops – These contain ingredients aimed at killing the mites, such as selamectin, imidacloprid, or pyrethrins. Your vet will show you how to gently massage the ear canal when applying the drops to ensure good coverage. Treatments are typically done once daily for around 30 days. Some examples include Revolution, Acarexx, and Vet Solutions Ear Cleansing Solution. [1]

Oral medication – Your vet may prescribe oral medications like selamectin, sarolaner, or afoxolaner. These are given once a month and travel through the bloodstream to kill mites. Some brand names are Nexgard, Revolution, and Simparica Trio. [2]

Cleaning and flushing ears – Your vet will likely show you how to gently clean debris from your cat’s ears using cotton balls and an ear cleansing solution. This removes wax buildup and material that can irritate your cat’s ears. It may need to be done daily during treatment. [3]

Cost of vet visit

The cost of the initial vet exam to diagnose ear mites can range widely depending on the clinic. According to WagWalking, the average cost of the initial vet visit is between $150-$300. However, costs can be higher or lower depending on factors like location, hours, specialty, and whether it is a general practice or emergency vet.

For example, a visit to a general practice vet in a small town may only cost $50-75 for the office exam fee. However, an emergency vet visit in a major city may cost $150-300 just for walking in the door. Specialty vets like dermatologists tend to be more expensive as well.

When budgeting for the vet visit, call around to multiple clinics in your area to get price estimates. Many vet clinics now list their office visit fees on their website too. This allows you to compare costs and choose the most affordable option.

Cost of Medication

The cost of medication to treat ear mites in cats can vary depending on the type of medication and where it is purchased. Some common options include:

Ear drops: Ear drops specifically formulated to kill ear mites typically range from $5 to $15 for a small bottle that will last for one course of treatment. Some popular brands include Vet’s Best Ear Relief, Hartz UltraGuard Ear Mite Treatment, and Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment.

Oral medication: Oral medications like ivermectin tablets or selamectin can also be used to treat ear mites. These are available by prescription only and usually cost $30 to $60 for one month’s supply from a veterinarian. However, the cost can sometimes be lower if purchasing oral ivermectin from farm supply stores.

In general, a single course of ear mite treatment using medicated ear drops purchased over-the-counter ranges from $10 to $30. Oral prescription medications are more expensive at $30 to $60 from a vet. Shopping around, buying generics, and using coupon codes can help reduce costs.

Other costs

In addition to the exam and medication costs, there are a few other costs to consider when treating ear mites in cats:

Follow up exams: After the initial treatment, your vet will likely want to see your cat again for a follow up exam to ensure the mites have been fully eliminated. This can cost $50-150 for the additional exam and tests like an ear swab cytology.

Additional cleaning: Some cats with severe ear mite infestations may need their ears flushed or cleaned multiple times to fully get rid of debris. This can cost $25-50 per cleaning.

E-collar: To prevent your cat from excessively scratching their ears and causing wounds while being treated for ear mites, your vet may prescribe an e-collar. These protective cones typically cost $10-30.

Total cost estimate

The total cost to treat ear mites in cats at the vet can vary depending on the severity of the infestation and any complications. Here are some estimates for the cost range:

Low-end estimate: $150-$200
For a minor case of ear mites, the vet visit and a basic medication may cost around $150-$200 total, according to Forbes.

High-end estimate: $300+

For a severe case involving complications, the treatment costs can exceed $300, according to veterinarian experts. Complex cases may require additional medications, ear flushes, and follow-up vet visits.

Average cost: $200-$300
The average cost for a standard case of ear mites typically ranges from $200-$300 for the initial vet visit, exam, cleaning, and medication, according to sources like WagWalking.


There are a few steps cat owners can take to help prevent ear mites in their pets:

Regular cleaning is crucial for prevention. Veterinarians recommend cleaning cat ears at home every 1-2 weeks using a gentle ear cleaner. Be sure not to use cotton swabs, which can damage the ear canal. Monthly professional cleanings at the vet are also recommended for prevention.

Avoid contact with infected cats or sharing spaces and items like bedding with infected cats, as ear mites are highly contagious. Stray and shelter cats are more likely to carry ear mites.

Applying monthly prescription topical prevention medication like Revolution or Bravecto can help kill and prevent ear mites before they take hold.

Keep your cat’s immune system strong with a healthy diet and proper nutrition. Stress weakens immunity, so minimize stressful events for your cat.

Home remedies

Some people try home remedies to treat ear mites in cats before visiting the vet. Common approaches include:

Herbal oils: Applying oils like olive, almond, or mineral oil can help smother mites. However, oils do not kill mites and may not reach deep into the ear canal (source).

Apple cider vinegar: The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar may help kill bacteria and fungi associated with ear mites. However, vinegar can irritate and damage the sensitive skin in a cat’s ears (source).

While home remedies may provide temporary relief, they have limited effectiveness in fully eliminating an ear mite infestation. The mites burrow deep into the ear canal where home treatments cannot reach. Home remedies also do not address the inflammation and secondary infections caused by ear mites.

For safety and effectiveness, it is best to have a vet diagnose and properly treat ear mites in cats. Home remedies should never be placed into a cat’s ears without veterinary guidance, as they can damage the sensitive skin and ear structures.

When to seek vet care

You should take your cat to see the veterinarian right away if the ear mite infection is severe or persists beyond a few days of home treatment. Signs that prompt a vet visit include:

Persistent symptoms – If your cat continues to violently scratch their ears, shake their head, or show signs of pain or discomfort despite home treatment, they likely need prescription medication.

Spreading infection – Ear mites can spread to other pets in the household. If multiple pets are showing symptoms, seek veterinary care to treat all infected animals.

Young kittens – Kittens under 12 weeks old have developing immune systems and are more vulnerable to complications from ear mites. Veterinary care is recommended to safely clear the infection.

A vet will thoroughly flush and clean the ears to remove debris. Medications like selamectin, milbemycin oxime, or ivermectin are very effective at killing mites. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotic and antifungal drops if a secondary infection is present. Be sure to follow your vet’s instructions carefully and complete the full course of treatment.

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