Use of Ivermectin to Control Ear Mites, Body Mites, and Roundworms in Catteries and Multiple Cat Environments
by Lorraine Shelton, Featherland
Spanish Translation / Traducción Españo

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About The Author: Lorraine Shelton breeds and shows under the Featherland cattery name. She has a Persian breeding program specializing in chocolate and lilac, a small Selkirk Rex program, and a blossoming Turkish Angora program. Lorraine is a noted author, geneticist and line-chaser. This article is part of a series of articles she has written on health issues of interest to cat breeders which are published on the Fanciers Health Yahoo Group email list.

I've been getting lots of private requests for information on dosing ivermectin to treat ear mites, body mites and roundworms in cats.

What strength of Ivermectin should I use? How much is the dose?

  • I recommend using the 0.27% swine formulation only. (although often 1% is more commonly found in farm supply stores).
  • The dose FOR .27% Ivermectin is "one drop per pound" (0.05 ml per pound, 0.5 ml for an adult cat).
  • If using the 1% solution, the dose is 0.1 ml for an adult cat, but must be carefully diluted to be accurately dosed in kittens.
  • Diluting one part 1% Ivermectin to three parts mineral oil will create a solution that can be dosed topically (on the skin)in the same amounts as the 0.27% solution.
Is Ivermectin injected? Can it be given topically?

Ivermectin can be injected or it is also well absorbed through the skin. Personally, I apply the dose directly into the ear canal. This causes the cat less pain than the injection and eliminates the risk of injection site problems, such as hair loss or abscess.

How old does a kitten have to be to get it?

I like to wait until the kitten is 8 weeks old, although ivermectin has been proven to be safe in random-bred kittens 4 weeks old and up. It is also safe to use in pregnant queens, although I prefer to wait until the last trimester of pregnancy.

What is the dose of the 1% ivermectin used for kittens if it is injected?
  • The dose for 1% ivermectin is 0.05 ml for a kitten weighing at least four pounds. This is a VERY tiny amount (one drop), so make sure your syringe has a total volume of only 0.5 ml (insulin syringe).
  • Getting ivermectin to draw into an insulin syringe is an ordeal in itself (it is a very viscous solution), If kittens under that weight are to be dosed via injection, the solution must be diluted in propylene glycol. I recommend diluting one part ivermectin with three parts propylene glycol and then injecting at a rate of 0.05 ml per pound.
  • When used topically, ivermectin should be diluted in mineral oil NOT propylene glycol. If a cat ingests propylene glycol, it can result in severe sedation, walking drunk, seizures, tremors, panting, anemia, and lethargy.
  • Personally, I prefer to dose ivermectin topically rather than by injection. This drug does sting when injected.
Can I treat body mites (Cheyletiella) by applying the Ivermectin topically in the ear canal too?

Yes, ivermectin is absorbed very efficiently through the skin into the bloodstream.

How often should I repeat the treatment?
  • Ivermectin treatment should be repeated in 2-3 weeks to catch life stages that were not killed by the first treatment.
  • Prevention of reinfection is important and can be accomplished by cleaning the environment thoroughly and treating all cats in the cattery at the same time.
  • Mites do not live for significant amounts of time in the environment, so treatment of the carpet, scratching posts, etc. with an insecticide is not necessary.

Ivermectin use is NOT without risks. Side effects are primarily neurological in nature and can be serious, especially if the drug is accidentally overdosed. There are safer drugs to use for roundworm infection (pyrantel pamoate, also known as "Nemex" or "Strongid", for example). But in a cattery or multiple cat situation, the convenience, spectrum of efficacy, and low cost of ivermectin is worth consideration in my opinion.

For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of fur and ear mites, please read the articles titled:

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