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How to Prevent or Treat Cat Ear Problems

Protecting Your Cat's Ears

By Lauren Leonardi. January 26, 2014 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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A Black Cat Getting His Ear Checked By The Vet

Cats are great at hiding it if they are a bit under the weather. Your cat could have an ear infection, and you may not even know it. Learn more here on how to prevent and treat a cat's ear problems before they turn into serious health concerns.

Sleek faces, luxurious fur, and almond-shaped eyes are among the features that draw us to cats. Last but not least, their lovely ears complete the picture. But did you know those charming triangles can get all sorts of problems?

Learn how to avoid, detect, and treat cat ear problems by understanding what can happen to your cat’s ears, what problems look like, and how to help your cat recover.

PROBLEMS INSIDE THE EAR

1. Common Infections

Cat ear infections can occur for almost any reason you can think of -- from parasites to bacteria to allergies. Most commonly, a cat will experience an itch, scratch it, and create an abrasion where bacteria can get in. Viola, an infection is born. Learn about:

2. Parasites

Mites and other parasites can cause ear infections. Keeping your pet pest free in the first place will help deter all sorts of problems later, including ear infections.

Learn more about ear mites:

  • Causes of mites: Why mites love cat ears.
  • Symptoms of mites: Lots of head shaking, and a brown sludgy matter in the ears are some of the indications that your cat may have mites.
  • Mite treatment: Mites are fairly easily eradicated with drops or pills.

3. Tumors

Squamous cell carcinoma or epidermoid carcinoma are two cancers that may be found on a cat’s ears. They both look a bit like cauliflower. Learn more about cat tumors.

4. Foreign Objects in Your Cat’s Ear

Bugs, grass, rocks, and the like can end up in anyone’s ear, including a cat’s. Although this is more common among dogs (and small children) than cats, don’t rule it out. Veterinary intervention and anesthesia might be required to remove debris.

PROBLEMS AROUND THE EAR

1. Solar Dermatitis (aka Sunburn)

Kitty ears are delightful to touch because they’re soft and delicate. These characteristics also make them especially sensitive to the sun. Consider applying a pet sunscreen if your kitty insists on sleeping in the sunniest spot (most do). If their ears do get burned, apply a soothing ointment to help make them comfortable and to discourage scratching, which can lead to infection.

2. Mange

The presence of mites, left untreated, can cause mange on the outside of the ears. Treating the mites will usually resolve the mange.

3. Wounds or Other Trauma

As humans often injure their hands or noses first (catching ourselves in a fall, or failing to catch ourselves!), cats often get scratched or abraded on their ears. They’re the parts that stick out the most! Treat ear lacerations and abrasions at home to avoid infection and other complications.

Prevention of Ear Problems in Cats

You can safely and fairly regularly use ear cleaning products to keep your pet’s ears clean of bacteria-attracting debris. Consistent ear hygiene, like dental care and grooming, is an important part of having a healthy pet.

More on Ear Health

The Top 15 Cat and Dog Ear Care Products
5 Common Cat Problems and Health Issues
Cat Symptom Checker: Match Your Cat's Symptoms to Health Conditions

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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