Common Cat Ear Problems

Learn about the most common cat ear problems. Discover how the conditions occur and what you can do to stop ear problems from affecting your cats happiness and health.

Cat Ear Infections

If you notice a smelly, often yeasty, odor from your cat's ears, an ear infection is likely. Other signs include:

  • Dark discharge

  • Reddened ear canals

  • Repeated head shaking

  • Scratching at the ears

Many ear infections are caused by bacteria or yeast within the ear canal. You'll need to have your veterinarian look at the ear and pin point a cause. Treat bacterial infections with the prescribed antibiotic. Make sure you follow the veterinarian's instructions to kill the bacteria completely. Yeast infections require fungicides and keeping the cat's ears washed is important. It's also good to keep your cat's ear hair trimmed to prevent moisture from building up within the ear.

If allergies are to blame, you'll need to look into your cat's diet and environment. If the allergies are environmental, an air cleaning system will help remove mold and mildew spores from the air.

If you suspect diet is to blame, choose a food that contains no grains or corn. Canidae, EVO, Natural Balance, Solid Gold and Wellness are possibilities.

Knowing if an Ear Hematoma Affecting Cats

Ear hematomas occur when blood vessels within the ear rupture. This results in a swollen area that is extremely painful. Cat ear hematomas affect dogs and cats, especially those prone to ear infections or infected with ear mites. Signs include scratching the ear and shaking the head. Most animals will not tolerate you touching the effected ear.

If a hematoma within the ear occurs, a surgical procedure to drain the fluid is the best course of action. The sooner you seek veterinary care, the better the chance of avoiding scar tissue.

Treating Cat Ear Mites

Ear mites reside deep within a cat's ear canal where they feast on dead tissue and ear wax. The mites irritate the lining of the ear canal. Ear mites spread from animal to animal simply by being in close contact. The mites can crawl onto bedding or another animal pretty easily, so it's important to treat all cats and dogs in your home.

A cat with ear mites often scratches excessively at his ears. You may see black residue resembling coffee crystals in the visible portion of the ear canal. Your vet will look at a swab from the ear for the white mites.

Miticide drops kill the mites. You can get them from your veterinarian or some pet stores. The miticide contains pyrethrin and usually mineral oil to help soothe the ear canal. Clean the cat's ears before applying the drops. You'll need to repeat this process for up to two weeks to kill off new mites from recently hatched eggs.

If you dislike the idea of using pesticides, many pet owners find success using a mixture of warmed olive oil and vitamin E. The olive oil smothers the mites. You should be proactive about keeping the ears clean and adding new ear drops every few days to kill off newly hatched cat ear mites.