Feline Inner Ear Infection

The ear infection is also known as otitis and may be present in the external, middle or inner ear. The inner ear infection is more severe than the other types of ear infections and may often lead to complications and neurological problems or even deafness. Typically, inner ear infections result from untreated outer or middle ear infections that advance to the inner ear.

Causes of Feline Inner Ear Infection

Most often, a feline inner ear infection originated in an outer ear infection (otitis externa) that is not treated and advanced in the inner ear.

Otitis can have various causes including parasites (fleas or mites), the sarcoptic mange or foreign objects or water trapped in the cat's ear. Ear infections may also be caused by bacteria, fungi or certain viruses. Autoimmune disorders may also favor the occurrence of inner infections.

If the cat has an abnormal production of wax, this may also lead to chronic infections.

Symptoms of Inner Ear Infections in Cats

The inner ear infection may cause the penetration of the ear drum and the cat will be in a lot of pain. The cat will be pawing or scratching his ears. One or both ears may be affected.

There will also be an ear discharge which can be of various consistency or color (depending on the cause of infection), but will have a foul odor.

The interior of the ears will be red and irritated. The cat will be tilting his head toward the affected ear.

If the ear drums are perforated, the cat's hearing may be affected, so your cat may not be responsive to different noises or when you call him.

If the infection is severe, you may also notice neurological symptoms such as ataxia and confusion. You may also notice that the cat's pupils are unevenly dilated (Horner's syndrome).

Inner Ear Infection Diagnosis

The diagnosis can be performed by a vet with an otoscope that is essential, helping to establish if the ear drum is intact. If the ear drum is perforated, an x-ray is also necessary, as the vet needs to see if other areas are affected.

The vet may also analyze the discharge to establish if there is an infection present.

The cat may not allow the vet to check his ears, due to the pain, so the vet may need to use anesthetics to be able to perform the consultation.

Treatment of Feline Inner Ear Infection

If the ear drum is intact, the ear should be cleaned and then a few ear drops will be administrated on a daily basis until the infection clears (may take up to 4 weeks). The ear drops may contain antibiotics or steroids, which will remove the infection and will relive the pain.

If the ear drum is perforated, the vet may hospitalize the cat, as special treatment will be needed. The vet will establish the best course of treatment depending on the complications and the symptoms displayed by the cat.

If left untreated, the inner ear infection may cause the closing of the ear canal, which can only be fixed through surgery.