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What is Ear Mite Medication Allergy ?

Some cats develop allergies to medications that are prescribed to them, such as medication to eradicate an ear mite infestation. Contact allergies of all sorts are caused by the aggressive response of specialized immune cells, called mast cells, to an allergen. When an allergen activates the immune system, the immune system then manufactures a protein that causes the release of histamine, a naturally occurring compound that has an inflammatory effect on any tissues that it comes into contact with. In cats, this can cause an uncomfortable and unsightly skin condition that often centers around the head and neck.

Allergies to medications, such as the miticides used to kill ear mites, may leave your pet with an uncomfortable rash and possibly even lesions and should prompt a call to your veterinarian.

Symptoms of Ear Mite Medication Allergy in Cats

Symptoms of allergies in cats are typically exhibited as skin problems, regardless of the type of allergy. Allergy symptoms caused by treating ear mites are likely to be centered on the head and ears of the cat but may show up anywhere on their body. These can include: 

  • Bumps and scabs on the skin 
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Hair loss
  • Overgrooming
  • Pulling out tufts of hair
  • Scabbing
  • Swollen skin
  • Twitching skin


There are two varieties of miticide that are used to treat ear mites. These include: 


This is the main component in the brand names like Ear Miticide and KC Ear Mite drops as well as being used in some flea and tick treatments. It is known to sometimes cause irritation to the skin that it comes in contact with and it can be toxic if ingested. Rotenone is slower-acting but more potent than Pyrethrins, although much of the potency may be lost with exposure to light and oxygen. 


Used more commonly for dogs than for cats as cats can be sensitive to the toxins in the insecticide. The toxins in pyrethrins that are used to kill the invading insects are neurotoxins, and if ingested by the cat they may lead to severe neurological symptoms. It is imperative to follow your veterinarian's instructions when administering these products.

Causes of Ear Mite Medication Allergy in Cats

Skin allergies caused by exposure to medications are a result of an overly aggressive response by a specialized type of immune cell known as a mast cell to a protein present in the miticide. Either synthetic or naturally occurring proteins are capable of stimulating the mast cells to release a chemical known as histamine. Histamine’s inflammatory influence is what causes the majority of the itching and swelling that is characteristic of an allergic response.

Diagnosis of Ear Mite Medication Allergy in Cats

The signs and symptoms that are indicative of an allergy will generally prompt your cat’s doctor to collect a sample from an affected area using a technique known as skin scraping. The samples acquired will then be evaluated by cutaneous cytology which is an examination of the skin cells using a microscope in order to search for complications such as mites and yeast infections.

When this fails to reveal any other disorders, the cat’s symptoms combined with the timing of the response may help to make a preliminary diagnosis, at which time a patch test, also known as an intradermal skin test, may be recommended. Miniscule amounts of the antigens that the veterinarian suspects, as well as common allergens in the area, are injected under the skin in order to induce a localized reaction. This may include tests for the miticide itself as well as tests to check the allergic response to the mite’s saliva as well. Many veterinary professionals may choose to diagnose the trigger by eliminating suspected allergens from the environment first, in this case, by changing to an alternate treatment for the ear mites.

Treatment of Ear Mite Medication Allergy in Cats

Either changing the miticide used to treat the ear mite infestation or ceasing miticide treatments entirely will be required for the symptoms to cease, and in many cases, symptoms will continue for a time after the medication has been eliminated. There are a number of antihistamines that are relatively effective for felines; both formulated specifically for cats and some are formulated for humans. It is essential that you never give your pet human medications without the advice and supervision of a veterinarian as even those that are safe to use may require species-specific adjustments to the dosage. Salves and shampoos made with hydrocortisone may also help to relieve skin discomfort, although your pet should be prevented from licking off these preparations.

If neither antihistamines or hydrocortisone preparations are successful in reducing the allergy-related symptoms, then corticosteroid injections or oral tablets may be recommended. Although cats can develop side effects from the corticosteroids, it is much less common than it is for dogs. Although injected immunotherapy is available for allergies to many medications, it is not typically practical for miticide allergies as it takes several months to become effective.

Recovery of Ear Mite Medication Allergy in Cats

Feline contact allergies can be just as unsightly and uncomfortable for our cats as they are for us and ensuring that treatment is continued can be more than just a cosmetic issue. Secondary skin infections are not uncommon on skin that has been damaged by an allergic reaction, and either topical or oral antibiotics will be required if this occurs. Completing the full measure of antibiotic medication is crucial even if the symptoms appear to have subsided. Discontinuing the medication before the infection has been completely eliminated could cause the infection to reoccur.

Ear Mite Medication Allergy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Siberian forest cat
6 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, sweaty fur

My kitten Willow is about six months old. She came from a woman who didn't care for her or the other kittens well, bad hygiene etc, and she has been dealing with ear mites. I bought hartz ear mite medication from Walmart to try to take care of the problem myself because it is so expensive to go to the vet anymore, and now I'm wondering if giving her the drops was a good idea. We only gave her a few doses and cut the recommended dose down to like a drop and a half or two drops because of her age and because she is a runt. Now she is acting a little lethargic her coat looks sweaty. I thought she might be going into heat but then I remembered I gave her the drops. Reading online about how many people have had bad experiences with hartz products I am kicking myself for not checking first. I thought they were a good brand. Any recommendations? We have already bathed her once with dawn when a drop got on her fur, I don't know if I should bathe her again or if it's because she may have already ingested it from rubbing and licking her ears.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2996 Recommendations
If Willow has ear mites, I would recommend that you use a product like Revolution (selamectin - may require prescription depending where you live) along with a general ear cleaning solution; bathe her again with a mild shampoo to be on the safe side before applying the Revolution. If there is no improvement, you should visit a Veterinarian regardless. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hot, itchy, lots of blacki stuff
Red, irritated,sore ears

Medication Used

Otc earmite med

I have been treating my cats for ear mites for almost a week. Three of them seem to be having an allergic reaction to the medicine. They ears get red, itchy, sore, irritated and warm to the touch as soon as I put the medicine in. At first I just thought it was from the mites because also lots of black/brown stuff is coming out, but now their ears are too sore for me to even clean them properly. Mamma cat also has developed a bad rash on her front leg from over licking. It is very raw and painful. Should I stop the treatments, what is a good natural ear mite treatment I can use?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1409 Recommendations
I'm not sure what medication you are using for the cats, but some cats can have a reaction to some medications, and it does sound like that may be happening with them. There are no reliable natural medications for ear mites - they need to be treated to kill the mites. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian, and have the ears looked at, evaluate the medication, and have the mamma cat looked at. I hope that they are all okay.

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1 Year
Mild condition
-1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Sore Ear
Dry Patches

Our cat had ear mites and we tried a medication but I think he had a reaction to it.. we used it 3 times. He developed dry red sore ears with discharge. I've been applying corn vet.wi to rehydrate his skin. Will this clear up? He seems to be feeling better. We dont have money to go to the vet. I even diluted a few young living essential oils, that are safe for cats, with the corn oil and applied them to the ear canal. They seemed to soothe him because he isnt hiding anymore. Do you think this will clear up?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1409 Recommendations
Without proper medication, I can't say for sure that Nashville's ear problems will clear up, unfortunately. He may have had mites, but he may have a bacterial or fungal infection, and without the right medication, it may not get better. If his ears seem to be improving, then you may be okay continuing with what you are doing, but if they are not getting better, it would be best to have him seen so that he can get the right treatment.

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