Common Feline Ear Disorders

Feline ear care is critical to detection and treatment of a variety of health conditions in your cat, from mild to severe. General symptoms of underlying health problems include ear wax build-up, redness, inflammation, itching, discharge, foul odor and lumps. Keeping your cat's ears clean allows allows you to keep a close watch over your cat's health.

Tips for Safely Cleaning Your Cat's Ears

Your cat's ears are very sensitive, so allow your vet to show you how to properly clean them. Avoid getting water in your cat's ears and never use a cotton swab to clean them. Here are steps to safely clean your cat's ears as you check for symptoms:

  • Put correct number of drops prescribed by your vet in the ears.
  • Rub bottom of the ears to dislodge the excess wax and dirt.
  • Wait for you cat to shake its head, expelling the wax and dirt.
  • Wipe away resulting drainage from the ears.

Ears Disorders and Associated Symptoms

As you clean your cat's ears, always check for symptoms of these conditions:

  • Wax build-up, harmful if excessive. Signs include itching and hearing impairment. Treatment includes removal.
  • Irritation or blockage. Signs include the presence of a foreign body, ticks, hair or other debris, possibly causing itching, infection and hearing impairment. Treatment includes removal.
  • Bacterial infection. Signs include pain, inflammation, black or yellow discharge, bloody discharge, foul odor, itching. Treatment includes drops, ointments and antibiotics.
  • Yeast infection. Signs include pain, inflammation, brownish-pink discharge, foul odor, itching. Treatment includes topical solutions containing antibiotics, anti-inflammation drugs and and drugs to kill yeast.
  • Severe infection, possibly settling in the middle or inner ear. Signs include pain, inflammation, bloody discharge foul odor, closing of the ear canal, damage to the eardrum, tilting of the head, stumbling, walking in circles, drooping of the eyes, paralysis, loss of balance, loss of hearing. Treatment includes an drops, ointments, antibiotics, anti-fungal agents, surgery.
  • Mites. Signs include pain, itching, drainage, excessive wax production and infection. Treatment choices include Pyrethrin,Thiabendazole, Sevin, Ivermectin and Revolution.
  • Allergies, due to flea bites, pollens, molds, dust mites or foods. Treatment includes antihistamines, and antibiotics for secondary infections, as well as hypo-allergenic diets and snacks.
  • Tumors. Signs include pain, the presence of a mass, discharge, foul odor, itching, pain. Benign tumors are rarely ulcerated. Malignant tumors, most commonly ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma, may bleed from ulcerations. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation.

With any ear disorder or disease, your cat may rub ears, face or head against the floor or furniture for relief. Never ignore your cat's ear problems. Untreated, they can result in deafness and death.