Cats frequently have ear infections. Like in people, ear infections can be uncomfortable and even painful, but they can also be a sign of a more serious medical issue.
If left untreated, ear infections may cause hearing loss or other health problems.
What Causes Ear Infections?
Otitis media is an inflammation of the inner ear canal, whereas otitis externa can cause enlargement of the outer ear canal (the most frequent type in humans). The latter type of feline hearing infection is the most prevalent.
The symptoms of an ear infection are frequently the same regardless of the source. If you notice any of these issues, it’s time to take your pet to the veterinarian:
- A cat will shake its head and paw at its ears if it has an ear infection or another ear problem.
- You may notice hair loss or scabs on your pet’s face, ears, or neck if it scratches at its ears.
- Ear mites are the main cause of cat ear infections.
- The ears may have an unpleasant odor or appear bloated and red.
- Your cat’s head may lean to one side or the other as a result of the ear problem.
- Ear infections in cats can also cause disorientation and irritation. If your cat engages in strange behavior, such as hiding for extended periods of time, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong.
Cat ear infections can be caused by a variety of circumstances. Allergies, ectoparasites, a foreign object stuck in the ear, a buildup of wax or fur, or allergies are the most typical causes. Bacterial infections and polyps are two other frequent reasons.
Feline Ear Mite Hearing Infections
In extreme cases, the fur outside and around the ears as well as the ear canal may show signs of a discharge. In fact, one of the first things your veterinarian will do if your cat develops an ear infection is to look for ear mites.
Ear mites cause a typical dark brown to black discharge from the ears that looks like coffee grounds. Often, this discharge is the first indication that your cat has ear mites. The material from your cat’s ears may also be examined under a microscope by your veterinarian to check for ear mite indications.
If ear mites are discovered in your cat’s ears, a precise diagnosis can be made. If your cat doesn’t have ear mites or if the suggested ear mite therapy is unsuccessful in curing the infection, more testing might be necessary.
How to Recognize Cat Ear Infections
The diagnosis is obtained after thoroughly inspecting the cat, not just the ears. This is because certain ear infections in cats may be symptoms of a more serious ailment. Your veterinarian will ensure that your cat is generally healthy in addition to carefully examining its skin and fur.
Your veterinarian will perform a comprehensive physical exam on your cat in addition to inspecting its ears using an otoscope. Your veterinarian can examine the ear canal with an otoscope to look for abnormalities like redness and inflammation, discharge, lumps and polyps, foreign objects, and other symptoms. It also allows your veterinarian to observe the membrane covering your cat’s eardrum. However, if there is discharge inside the ear canal, it might be necessary to clean and wash it out first in order to see this membrane.
Depending on the severity of the infection, sedation may be necessary to thoroughly clean the ear canal and examine your cat’s ear. In case there is a lot of inflammation, an ear flush could sting.
Because ear problems in cats may be brought on by more systemic causes, your veterinarian may suggest additional testing if your cat has not responded to traditional treatments or a more serious condition is suspected. These exams might include:
- Blood testing can detect illnesses in cats such feline leukemia and FIV.
- Food testing will be done if a food allergy is suspected to exist.
- With an effective flea treatment, flea allergy won’t be ruled out as the cause of the ear infection.
- If your cat has an allergy to something in its environment, an atopy test will reveal this.
- Skin scrapings can be used to rule out parasite illnesses such as sarcoptic mange.
- A neurological assessment may be done if your cat shakes or tilts its head.
Treatment and Prevention
Even while it’s not really possible to prevent your cat from ever getting an ear infection, if you regularly examine your cat’s ears, you might be able to prevent one from getting worse.
Cats in excellent health have pink ears that are free of wax, other dirt, and odor. If your cat’s ears change in color or smell, an infection can be developing.
Additionally, it’s crucial to keep your cat’s ears clean. Ask your veterinarian how to clean your cat’s ears properly so that you don’t accidentally poke too deep into the ear canal.
Due to the wide variety of unique causes, there is no one medication that is effective for all feline ear infections. In some situations, antibiotics may be required, although in others, simply cleaning and draining the hearing canal may be sufficient.
During the ear cytology technique, a cat’s inner ear is swabbed, and any aberrant cells, microbes, or yeast are then inspected under a microscope. Based on the results of this test, your veterinarian will be able to decide which antibiotics or other medications are best for your cat’s ears.
It could also be essential to perform an ear culture if ear cytology reveals a bacterial infection that is not responding well to antibiotic therapy. An ear culture will reveal the type of bacteria that are present in your cat’s ears, and it will test several medications to determine whether they are effective in eliminating that specific bacterium.
If you suspect your pet is sick, contact your veterinarian straight away. When in doubt about your family pet’s health, always see your veterinarian. They have examined your pet, are aware of its medical history, and may be able to offer the best guidance for your pet.
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