Dear Christopher Cat
Are ear mites contagious? Our new kitten sleeps with our daughter, often sharing her pillow. Although our veterinarian treated the kitten for ear mites, I’m concerned that the mites might infect our daughter.
You may rest assured – and your daughter may continue to rest with her kitten – because ear mites very rarely infect humans.
Regular readers know I am a perfect cat, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve never had ear mites.
But one of my feline sisters had them when she joined our family. Ear mites were common in the outdoor cats with whom she lived, and she suspects one of her friends gave them to her.
Mites live in pets’ ears, where they feed on ear wax and skin oils.
Ear debris that resembles coffee grounds suggests an infection, and finding the mites under the microscope confirms the diagnosis.
On the very rare occasions humans become infected, the mites usually cause skin rashes.
I know of one eccentric veterinarian who purposely infected himself, by transferring ear mites on a cotton swab from a cat’s ears to his own.
He described hearing crunching sounds as the mites dined in his ears. Fortunately, the infection was easily treated once he tired of his experiment.