I take him into the vet, who says "Hmm, sounds like ear mites...let's check..." and does an ear swab. Armed with a goopy swab, she leaves the room, while the vet tech and I converse about how awesome God of War 2 was.
After a few minutes, during which Ben is VERY grumpy--mean people poking his ears! Bastards!--the vet tech goes to see what's taking so long. It doesn't take long to confirm ear mites, you wipe the goop on a slide and look at it. As procedures go, it's pretty straightforward.
Tech vanishes. Time passes. I pet Ben. Ben grumbles.
"Sorry," said the vet, finally returning, "we had to get everybody to come look. I've never seen that many mites on a slide! The microscope was practically shaking!"
"Oh god," I said. "That's horrible! That's vile! That's...can I see?"
"Yeah, come look!"
And yup, it was pretty horrible and vile and fascinating. Mites...urgh. "Still," said the tech, in an effort to make me feel better about the fact that these things were packed by the zillions in my beloved cat's ears...ears that I scratch and cuddle and make stupid noises into..."we've got lots of mites too. Eyelash mites..."
"Eyebrow mites..." I agreed, not sure if that was helping.
I returned to Ben. "You!" I said. "You never do anything by halves, do you? You have to get all your teeth out. You don't just get ear mites, you get a whole...whole...ear-mite..."
I groped for a word. "Civilization," said the vet helpfully.
"Thank you, yes."
Ben endured a full flush of his ears, including a complicated procedure with a little pinchy steel probe that fitted through the ear-exam device. "If I can just break up some of the crust...god it's like an iceberg..." muttered the vet, while the tech pinned Ben and he hammered out a furious rhythym on the table with a hind leg. Finally escaping, he began to shake.
We hit the deck. Black crusts flew from his ears, bouncing across the exam table and splattering the walls.
"My forehead!" cried the tech.
"My eye!" cried the vet.
I, unhampered by professional ethics, simply dove under the table.
"I think he's done for the day," muttered the vet, fishing Ben ear-crust out of her cornea.
So, he's been flushed out and treated. And now I have goop to treat...eight...bloody...cats, because you have to do everybody in the house 'cos they've all got it.