Most ear infections that cats experience are likely to cause discomfort or be painful. Some can be serious and lead to a loss of balance or hearing.
If you think your cat has some kind of ear infection, you should always contact your vet. The sooner your cat begins a course of treatment the better the prognosis.
Read on to find out about some of the more common reasons cats can develop problems with their ears and how you should deal with them.
The Underlying Causes of Ear Infections in Cats
Ear infections in cats are often due to an annoying and painful overgrowth of yeast or bacteria within the ear. Another underlying problem might be the root cause of that. Cats can suffer from skin allergies, for example.
These can lead to inflamed, itchy skin around the ears. These kinds of allergies can be serious. If both ears suddenly get very swollen, puffy, and red, and if there’s swelling elsewhere as well, contact your vet straight away.
Ear mites are tiny parasites that can cause the ears to become very itchy and lead to further infection. You should treat your cat regularly for fleas as this is the best way to prevent ear mites. That’s because the products used to kill off fleas will usually get rid of other parasites like ear mites as well.
Ear mites are able to survive in home environments for months. Some household flea sprays can be highly effective at killing them off but you should never use them directly on any animal.
Bear in mind that these kinds of sprays can often contain permethrin. It is highly toxic to many species including cats, fish, and birds.
You will also need to regularly wash pet items like bedding and grooming equipment in very hot water to help get rid of harmful parasites.
Foreign objects stuck in the ear along with injuries could also lead to an ear infection. Other problems might be:
- Aural hematoma, a blood blister in the earflap
- Ear polyps or non-cancerous lumps found in the ear canal
- Cancer like squamous cell carcinoma on the earflap
- A vestibular disease that causes imbalance and inner ear issues
Common Symptoms Related to Ear Infections in Cats
There are three main parts to the ear. These are the ‘outer’, ‘middle,’ and ‘inner’ ear. When a cat has a problem with their outer ear they may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Swelling and itchiness
- Pain: your cat may not enjoy you stroking them
- An unpleasant smell
- An unusual shaking of the head or rubbing of the face
- Earflaps that appear swollen or droopy
- Scabs and crusting on the ears
- Excess wax, blood, or discharge coming from the affected ear(s)
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When cats develop more severe problems affecting the middle or inner ear, they may also experience these symptoms:
- A tilting of the head
- Loss of balance
- Flickering eye movements
- Reduced hearing or deafness
Conducting an Examination of Your Cat
If left, ear infections are likely to get worse over time. They can become very uncomfortable and painful. It’s therefore important to contact your vet if you notice that something’s not right.
Your vet will use an instrument called an otoscope to have a good look around in your cat’s ear to see what’s wrong. They will also need you to let them know about your cat’s recent history.
This could include changes to their diet that might have led to skin allergies affecting the ear. You should also let your vet know if your cat has experienced any kind of accident.
Treatments for Ear Infections in Cats
Your vet may use a specialist, veterinary cleaner to help remove any discharge or build-up of wax from the ear(s). They may recommend that you continue with this procedure at home.
They may also prescribe anti-inflammatories to reduce any swelling and other drugs to relieve any pain. You should never use cotton buds to clean your cat’s ears.
Ear drops are another common treatment. They can contain a variety of drugs to combat bacteria, types of yeast, and swelling. You should always complete the course of treatment your vet recommends even if your cat appears to be fully recovered.
Sometimes, your cat may need a course of antibiotic tablets. You might also need to use ear drops as well to treat severe problems deep inside the ear.
Your vet may need to take a specimen of any discharge from your cat’s ear and then get it tested in an effort to discover what’s causing the problem. Your cat may need to undergo an anesthetic so that your vet can remove any foreign bodies stuck inside the ear.
When the cause of the ear problem is an allergy, your vet may have to prescribe other drugs and recommend a special diet. The solution will mean withdrawing foods that don’t agree with your cat. Exactly what foodstuffs are to blame can be very tricky and time-consuming to establish.
When cats have an aural hematoma or if they have a tumor inside the ear, they may need to undergo an operation.
Preventing Ear Problems in Cats
You should check your cat’s ears regularly for dirt and infections. An unpleasant smell, excess wax, or any kind of discharge are signs that your cat may have an ear infection.
Seek advice from your vet about how and whether to clean your cat’s ears at home.
You should also make sure you keep any skin allergy your cat has under control. It’s vital to have an effective flea treatment program. Your vet will be able to recommend products that work well and help keep your cat flea-free.
Ongoing Care For Your Cat
You must always follow the advice that your vet gives you. Ending treatment too soon can lead to more serious infections further down the road.
If you think your cat might have an ear problem or if you still have questions, schedule an instant video consultation with our qualified veterinarians and get tailored advice from the comfort of your home – today.
Treatment for ear problems can be costly and time-consuming. We are able to offer straightforward, hassle-free, pet insurance so that your cat stays happy and healthy.