Yeast Infection in Cats' Ears

A yeast infection can affect your cat’s ears, and untreated yeast infections can become chronic conditions that are difficult to treat. Let’s look at the causes of these infections, the symptoms of feline ear infections that are caused by yeast and how they are treated so you’ll know how to help your cat regain her health quickly if she’s affected by this condition.

Possible Causes of Feline Yeast Infections of the Ear

Under normal conditions, your cat will have yeast in her ears, and this is completely normal. However, several factors can contribute to feline ear infections that are caused by yeast. These include:

  • excessive moisture that becomes trapped in the middle or inner ear
  • food allergies
  • hormonal imbalances

Let’s look at these factors more closely. Excessive moisture can cause an overgrowth of yeast because yeast can thrive in dark, moist areas. Keeping your cat’s ears dry can make it more difficult for yeast to gain a foothold to cause an infection.

Food allergies can set up a feline yeast infection because they usually show allergic symptoms through a cat’s skin. If your cat’s skin is compromised from a food allergy, she may then be more prone to a yeast infection in her ears. Ear problems can sometimes be the first indication of an underlying feline allergy, so your cat’s ear infection may indicate a previously undiagnosed allergy.

Hormonal imbalances may leave a cat more prone to yeast-based ear infections because they leave a cat’s immune system prone to opportunistic infections, such as yeast infections.

The most common yeasts connected with ear infections are candida and malassezia. Candida is a normally occurring yeast found in a cat’s digestive system, ears and nose. If your cat has another health problem, candida can become opportunistic and may attempt to invade damaged or compromised tissue.

Malassezia is also a normally occurring yeast found on a cat’s skin, and in her anal sacs, ears and rectum. As with candida, malassezia can become opportunistic and may attempt to spread over the skin of a cat that has another hereditary or infectious disease.

What Feline Yeast Infections of the Ear Look Like

Feline ear infections have a particular set of symptoms connected to them, including ear scratching, head shaking and inflammation. Yeast-caused ear infections have the additional symptoms of smelly black or yellowish discharge from the ears.
If ear infections are left untreated, the infection may progress into the cat’s inner ear. At this point, symptoms can become more severe, such as:

  • facial paralysis
  • head tilt
  • loss of balance
  • walking in circles

How Yeast Infections of the Ear Are Treated

To diagnose the cause of your cat’s ear infection, your veterinarian will collect and analyze samples of ear wax and discharge. Once the cause is identified, treatment may include drops, ointments or medications to eliminate the yeast.

Your veterinarian may also recommend a regular ear-cleaning routine for your cat to remove wax. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for both medication and ear cleaning to help your cat’s yeast infection clear up as quickly as possible.