The Ear Mite Fight

I am going on record to state, “I hate ear mites!” More than fleas, worms or other pestilence, ear mites are the scourge of stray cats. The dark build-up of blackened crud seen inside your cat’s ear and canal is the wasteland of an ear mite invasion. Taking a bit of cotton dampened with warmed olive oil, if you roll this gently around the ear and pull out sediment resembling burnt coffee grounds, then your cat has ear mites. Plop that bit of cotton into a jar of water, the water will turn red like blood. This sediment is a combination of blood, oils, ear wax, ear mites and waste products (from the mites).

Mattie doesn’t have ear mites. Her ears look oily and glassy. One vet said it was wax (he was wrong). It is an infection and a bad one. She fights me daily because I have to put ointment in her ear and rub them gently. Her paws draw up to my fingers claws extended…touching her ears is a prelude to war.

Trump on the other hand has ear mites. He has kept them even though he underwent several “one time” treatments by vets to clear them up! Ear mites cannot be seen easily by the naked eye. Even though these tick-like mites are white, you need a microscope to see them. They live inside the ear, but they also travel. They can end up on the tip of your cat’s tail if he curls his tail around him when he sleeps. Ear mites can crawl out of the ear and move on to the head or the face of the cat. Ear mites are also contagious among animals, especially when they mutually groom each other. If one cat has ear mites, it is a sure bet that all the rest of the pets in the home are invested. Trump isn’t selfish, he shares his mites gladly with the rest of the group.

When an ear mite lands in a cat’s ear canal, it will live inside the canal devouring ear wax, oil and loose tissue. The mites have three stages of life…larvae, nymphs, adult. This life cycle only lasts for a period of three weeks. Once hatched, the larvae (six legged) will feed on the oil, tissue and wax for a period of four days. In a period ranging from three to ten days, the larvae molts into an eight legged protonymph. During a 5 day stage the protonymph molts into a deutonymph. Three to five days later, the deutonymph becomes attached to an existing adult mite. If two males are attached, the union is meaningless. If the adult hooks up with a female, she is fertilized so she has the ability to produce eggs.

Ear mites can drive my cats crazy. I am not far behind this craziness! Infested with ear mites, my cats will shake their head frequently, rub their head along any hard surface (carpet is the best choice so far) and scratch their ears till they bleed or the hair falls out. In advance stages, ear mite infections give off a distinct odor. To me it smells like rotten gym socks left inside a locker for a week during a heat wave! Since I work with strays, it is an almost endless battle here to stop all this ear mite invasion.

Treatment of Ear Mites:

Over-the-counter products for ear mite prevention should be avoided at all costs. Generally, though they may kill the adult mites, they don’t affect the eggs and the larvae. There are injectables, topical and oral meds available that will work against the ear mites. Make a vet appointment for the proper treatment.

Before any treatment is given, it is important to clean the ears out of the sediment that has already collected there. Use cotton balls, not Q-Tips. Q-Tips have the capability of pushing the crud deeper into the ear canal. Plus one wrong jerk of the cat’s head (even a scruffed kitty) could mean another vet visit for a punctured ear drum. Keeping the cotton ball moistened with warmed olive oil or mineral oil will help clean out the ears.

Treatment of ear mites is a repeatable treatment sometimes, even when a one-time only ear mite medicine is used. Topical treatments should be used once every three days. Wait for one week, repeat application. Wait another week and repeat the process. One time treatments are easier on the cat and on you.

Revolution: Revolution flea treatment by Pfizer is effective against fleas, ear mites, heartworm, ticks, roundworms and hookworms. Follow the package directions carefully when applying this product.

Ivomec 1% – This is NOT to be confused with the Ivomectrin paste available over–the-counter for livestock. Ivomec solution is available at your vets. Over-medicating with Ivomec can place your cat into toxic shock.

Ivermectin is an injectible solution used for ear mite invasion. According to Dr. Susan Little DVM, DAVBP of Bytown Cat Hospital, Ivermectin can be used both orally and topically.

Acarexx Otic Suspension- This is a one-time application for ear mites. The tip of the container is designed to get deep into the ear canal. There is no stinging sensation so the cat is less likely to shake goop all over you or your vet.

In Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, he offers the following suggestion: “A mixture of ½ ounce of almond or olive oil and 400 IU Vitamin E (capsule) makes a mild healing treatment for cats or dogs. Blend them in a dropper bottle and warm the mixture to body temperature by immersing the bottle into hot water. Put about ½ dropper full in each ear and massage gently. Then clean out the opening gently….apply this oil every other day for 6 days.” This will heal the ear, smother some of the mites but not kill the mites.

Be diligent when you are on the prowl for ear mites. Untreated, ear mites can cause damage to the ear canal and change your cat’s behavior from pussy cat to tiger. They can if severe enough and not tended to also cause deafness. Be careful when bringing in new cats to the home. Quarantine the new arrival until a vet check has been done. Ear mites are not contagious to people just to other pets. Once they gain a ear-hold on your group, it is tough for them to let go.

The only way I have found to stop earmites in an outdoor or indoor colony is to have the ears cleaned thoroughly during the spay and then have the vet follow up with injectible Ivermectin a cattle dewormer. This medication should not be given without a vet’s say-so and intervention, but it has shown effective in stopping ear mite invasion.

Need to do some Cat Magnet Searching

This morning, near one of the feral feeders, I saw a cat who looked vaguely familar. Not believing what I was seeing, I called for her- “Mattie?” I knelt down and she came slowly over to me and I wept when I saw her. Mattie has been gone from here for a long time. She was originally from a feral colony I cared for, and I had to pull her out as she is one of those cats that if you look at her, she matts! She was an inside/outside kitty here, and one night, she simply vanished! She is a tortise-shell and now she is half of what she weighed. I took her inside, shaved her and rushed her to the vet.

She has a severe case of gingivitis, she is suffering from being malnourished. I am really the only one within miles who feeds ferals. 🙁 She has flakes of skin just shedding off her from dehydration. He gave her a depo-medra shot, some ointment for the two infections in her ears and some clinidrops. But he said, overall, for all the time she has been missing (over six months) she is in reasonable shape. She tested negative for all the diseases.

She is in the bedroom- Fiona is now in general population so Mattie has the bedroom all to herself. I got head-bumped to death by this loving cat but she is now under the bed, understandably upset about the vet visit. I will be feeding her small amounts of measured food about 8 times a day and will take her back for re-evaluation in ten days. It was absolutely wonderful to know that I didn’t have to worry about the bill, because not only did I pay the vet bill off, but I left some in the kitty for such an emergency.

I have had a lot of cats simply vanish from here. Not many have returned. Some, I find later- victim of a hungry road, or I find pieces of fur in the field evidence that a coyote found my cat before I could. I am grateful that somehow God led her back to us and appreciative that other than malnourishment she should be okay in few weeks-

Maybe I better just leave that cat magnet alone. There are other treasured kitties who vanished from us, perhaps, they too will follow the magnet’s pull and find their path home-

“The Amazing Kreskats”

Last Monday, I sat down on the couch and thought I felt okay, just “tired.” My eyes immediately closed (although I had gotten a rare 8 hour sleep the night before). I awoke a few hours later with a muddled head and I was surrounded by warm bodies. Rocky, my Maine Coon mix had settled around my neck and was purring into my ear. Matuse (my tuxedo male) was lying on my chest, Sierra (Rocky’s sister and a miniature version of him) laid sprawled on my legs looking up a me intently. Muddy was on the armrest stretched over my left arm and Chappy (who usually only visits me at midnight and later) claimed my other arm.

I felt weighted down as if submerged in water and I was finding it hard to breathe. Shaking the cats off had little effect- they immediately sprang back to their positions all the time watching me. When I shook them off initally, I thought that breathing would be easier, but it wasn’t their weight that was hampering my breathing. As I finally managed to get to my feet, my legs buckled under me and I fell to the floor projectile vomiting just missing the trash can several feet away.

I managed to get to the bathroom where I will spare you the details but I was really sick. Turns out, I had contracted the neovirus and it hit with a vengeance. I was down (and I do mean down) for five days. All the symptoms bestowed themselves upon me and by Thursday I was simply asking God to let me die. I was so sick I couldn’t even go to the ER because the only decent one is over an hour away from our home, so I tried to push fluids, slept when I could and dealt with what nature threw my way. It was dismal and all through it, warm bodies kept trying to comfort me, although most of them were gently removed because even the weight of a kitten on my stomach was more than I could bear. But all the cats, even Dash remained in the living room where I was recovering the entire time I was sick. When I was rushing to the bathroom, Mike said it was like watching the parting of the Red Sea because the cats would back away and leave me a path to the BR door.

I don’t know how they knew before I did that I was ill. It is not the first time these cats have turned mentalists, but if they could have brought me chicken soup or hot tea, I sensed they would gladly do it. When the chills hit, I found myself not only covered in extra blankets from a concerned and anxious Mike, but once again covered in cats. Mike says he swears that if I had died (and I literally felt like I could have) and they cut open my brain- cats would come running out.

I am not 100% but I am better and in researching this benign sounding virus, I find that around in the 1940’s this virus mutated and split off into the cat world becoming the calici virus! Maybe, I am part cat! LOL The virus is resistant to all the known flu vaccines and just like a loving spouse, I can’t keep anything to myself so now Mike has it. The only time I have ever been so ill was years and years ago when I contracted shegella and ended up in the hospital for three weeks.

Before the flu hit- we put a new roof on the cat enclosure! YAY! Paid off the vets!! Stocked up on pet food and helped out some other folks who rescue like me privately. It was glorious and I look at this illness as satan’s way of stealing the blessings of the smiles received on my end.

I did a lot of soul-searching and praying during recovery and have decided to maintain the same status as before. To go non-profit means that I need to be recognizable to the public (which means being off a busy road) many stray cats are suddenly going to be flying over my fences! I have currentlyunder my care and in my life twenty cats, and as Mike pointed out- “If that isn’t a cat hotel, I don’t know what is!” So I am NOT going non-profit (it’s really costly to do it right) I will stay private, and if I place another cat here into a loving home or God forbid, lose one- I will replace it with another who needs all that I can offer. For as I found out many years ago, there will always be cats in need of rescue no matter where I am.

Just want to say- Nice to be back to the land of the living with all my mentalist cats!

“You Scoop HOW Many boxes?”

I have been emailing a follower of my blog lately. She has found herself suddenly in the midst of strays and has taken five into her home (she had three already) She was asking me about how many litter pans she needs. I told her six is ideal (one per cat and one more besides.) Cats don’t like to pee and poop in the same spot. They will if they have to, but it is against their nature.

She asked me how many cats I have currently (26) and how many litter pans I have and how in the world do I scoop these pans out on a daily basis. When I shared with her my system, she told me I should blog about it- so here it goes.

First of all, I don’t use litter pans. I hate litter pans. They are to small for anything other than a kitten, so I hit the WalMart and buy those under the bed containers that are plastic, and other similar sized containers. Those are my indoor litter pans and I have ten upstairs, two in the hallway, three in the bedroom and four downstairs. They are scooped several times a day (and I cheat) I took an old beat-up cat carrier and disassembled it. I tossed the cage door out and I use the bottom of the carrier as my holder for soiled litter. I pour all the soiled litter into this “dustpan.” Then a strong plastic bag is slid over the opened end of the dustpan and the litter pours right into the bag. No mess, no litter on the floor because the open end acts like a pour spout. I scrub out the containers, spray the bottom of the pans with PAM cooking spray (the wet litter won’t stick then) and dump the new litter on top. I also don’t use cat litter. I would go bankrupt if I did! I use a combination of PDZ and Stall Dry. The PDZ actually eliminates all the ammonia smell and the Stall Dry comes in 40 pound bags that last a long a time. PDZ wesbite is here PDZ. Stall Dry comes out of Canada and their website can be found here Stall Dry

In the enclosure, I use plastic kiddy swimming pools as “litter pans” I have ten of those inside the enclosure. I scoop with a small garden rake into a trash can lined with a heavy plastic bag. Works just fine for me. The only time I have accidents is when the cat isn’t feeling good. They like the extra room these type of containers offer them and it also stops litter pan ambushes.


I have had such a wonderful day in town buying supplies for the animals and spreading some of this gift to others who do what I do. I truly do not feel worthy of such a gift not in the magnitude that it was sent. I have had others drop off food and blankets here and the house and leave a little something behind as well that helps out. But to be able to pay off the vets was simply amazing and I about gave one bookkeeper a heart attack when I paid her! I left extra there at the vet’s office in the “kitty” so to speak, to be used as a buffer down the road when needed.

It was so heartwarming to go the feed store and load up on cat food but this is god sent because today only there was a sale on the food I normally buy! So the kitties made out! I am still bordering on the line of stunned and OMG did this really happen.

Charlie is in an uproar today and I am not sure why. It could be that I just changed the bedding and the comforter brought down from upstairs smells foreign to him, because ever since I laid it across the bed he has been terrorizing the other cats. Or it could be the new room humidifier I picked up in an effort to make the air a bit cleaner in the front room. Invader alert, I suppose tilting the familar smell of the house off for him and he has to reassert himself.

He is so tiny to be so alpha, but that is the way of it. Perhaps he feels that by being such a bully, he can keep the others at bay and stay safe in the clowder. But right now, he is being a royal pain in the butt!

The Overseas Promise

The money arrived today from the benefactor overseas. I am still so very stunned that a stranger would reach out with such kindness and help someone they only know through emails and this blog. I have already sent her a private thank you and I know she is reading this. I just hope that she understands the impact this gift is going to have on the lives of cats in this area. Just the realization that I can pay off my vets in full drives me to tears of gratitude.

Our plans are to extend the cat enclosure another 8 feet and add a second level- a sun room where the cats can go up and catch some sun. There is a roofer coming over tomorrow to give us an estimate of what it would cost to put a new roof over the entire enclosure as the old one has been beat down by the branches of the century old pine tree that towers above it.

I meet with a lawyer on Tuesday to discuss going non-profit and the name of my shelter (I have nixed the idea of a cat hotel) will be Hissy’s Haven. Stocking up on supplies is another must and purchasing three more Drinkwells will also be priority as the motors of the ones here have burned out long ago. We will be adding electricity and water to the enclosure and I will be installing a running fountain in there so the cats can play in the water.

I am still so stunned and I had to laugh when the bank president told me today that he never thought this would pan out for me. He figured I was getting scammed like the 99% of the population when it comes to the Internet.

I am so grateful for this gift and I plan on paying it forward for a very long time.

Pray for Alex

I leave in just a bit to take Alex to the vet. He is gaining weight, he came here weighing just over 4 pounds and now weighs 6.5 but the swollen gums stuck to the back of his throat is indicative of a viral infection. I hope he tests negative for the common viruses, but he leaves to be tested. I hope they can draw the blood, he is still so paper thin. I have had him on pain meds given to me by Dr. Vicki but he still grinds his teeth when he eats from pain, and giving him a pill is impossible because he screams if I touch his tongue or his throat with the pill popper. So hold your breath- say 10 hail mary’s or pray that he will be okay- I will let you know after the visit.

Alex has joined other wonderful, loved kitties. He tested positive for FeLV and I had him euthanized. Although I know that they can live a little while with leukemia with managed care, I also have seen first-hand the suffering this disease can bring and I chose not to extend his pain- Goodbye sweet boy-when we meet again, you can tell me all about where you were all these years and then we will spend the rest of our days together-

Making Choices

I have been volunteering now for over 6 months at a thrift shop that helps the homeless and the down-and-out. Although I enjoy what I do there, I left the place for good today after finding out I was sharing the same space with a “suspected” child and animal abuser. The person has multiple counts against him and it was a real stumbling block for me sharing the same building with him, not to mention being in the same room. I been working with abused cats for so long now, but have never been directly confronted by an abuser. I do not know exactly what this man did, nor do I wish to know. I just know that for my own sake- I needed to leave. I know that God says we must forgive, but sometimes, finding forgiveness is difficult, especially when the one needing forgiveness hasn’t repented.