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Most pet cats suffer from ear problems that affect their pinnae,
inner ear, middle ear or the external ear canal. External ear
diseases are the most common ones, although others are just as
likely. Let us take a deeper look:
Diseases that affect the pinnae
Trauma and wounds – Cat fights are the most
common cause of pinnae wounds, with most of the damage
resulting from claws or bites. A scratch or bite might result
in a full tear of the pinna and in most of the cases, the ear
can heal without the need of sutures.
Hematomas – Hematomas are blood filled pockets
caused by the rupturing of small blood vessels. It leads to
blood accumulation and hemorrhage between the cartilage and
skin. Vigorous head scratching is the most common cause.
Solar dermatitis – This refers to inflammation
of ear tips and is most commonly caused by exposure to UV
light. If the skin progresses from pink and scaly to ulcerated
and crusted, then it is a sure fire sign of solar dermatitis.
If you leave it untreated, it can lead to a malignant tumor.
Notoedric or sarcoptic damage – This is caused
by a mite infection in the skin of the cat and although it is
unusual, it can cause pruritus and intense irritation. The vet
can make the diagnosis by identifying the skin scrapings.
Autumn mites – This is a seasonal problem most
outdoor cats face. Orange larvae on the feet, face and ears,
causing intense irritation, are the most common sign.
Diseases that affect the ear canal
Parasitic otitis - The most common cause of
otitis externa in young cats is caused due to a mite infection
that can spread easily from one cat to another. The skin that
links the ear canal becomes thick and you will notice your cat
scratching his ears and shaking his head. The condition is
usually accompanied by a black waxy discharge.
Foreign bodies – Although more common in dogs,
cats can also have foreign bodies, like a grass blade or seed,
lodged in their ear. This leads to sudden onset pain and you
will notice your cat holding his head to one side and
scratching at his ear.
Bacterial infection – Bacterial infections
occur secondary to another ear problem – a foreign body,
trauma, ear mite and a lot more. You will notice pus and a foul
odor in the ear canal. Your vet will carefully examine your cat
and administer a suitable antibiotic.
Ear canal tumors – Older cats can develop a
tumor in the skin lining of their ear canal. These growths can
vary from benign tumors and polyps to malignant carcinomas. If
you see a nodule, you need to take your cat to the vet and have
Inner and middle ear infections, tumors and polyps are extremely
serious and have to be handled by the vet exclusively. Most
common signs include loss of balance, difficulty walking and
walking in circles. If your cat exhibits any of these signs, take
him to the vet immediately.
How to Clean Your Cat's Ears?
Most pet owners believe that cats are self-sufficient and are
capable of taking care of themselves, thanks to all the
meticulous grooming they do. However, that is only partly true.
If your cat has ear problems, then he has to rely on you for a
safe cleaning. If, for some reason, you aren't able to take your
cat to the vet for an ear cleaning session, then you should know
how to do it yourself.
Why should you clean the
Cat have a built-in cleaning mechanism where the wax migrates
towards external ear canal. However, if your cat has an ear
issue, like blood blisters, ear mites or an ear infection, then
you need to clean it thoroughly before you apply any topical
medication. Make sure that you regularly check your cat's ears
for any abnormalities.
How often should you clean the
If your cat has healthy ears, then check them once a month for
any odor and debris. If you notice any abnormalities, you need to
take him to the vet for a thorough evaluation. However, if your
cat has ear inflammation, then you need to clean them once a week
after treating the inflammation.
How do you clean your cat's
If you have never cleaned Felix's ears before, then it might take
a little practice to get it right. Fortunately, it is a fairly
straightforward process and once you get a hang of it, you're all
set. Perform the following steps with a gauze and cleaning
- Pull back the earflap delicately and fill the ear canal with
a cleaning solution recommended by the veterinarian.
- Gently massage the base of the ear for ten seconds, and allow
your cat to shake the solution out of his ear.
- Wrap a gauze around your little finger and clean out any
excess liquid from the ear canal. Your finger cannot go far
enough inside to cause any real damage.
- Repeat the same process with the other ear.
Tips to help you clean your
cat's ears effectively
Even if you are convinced that your cat needs to have his ears
cleaned, there is a good chance that he might not share your
position. Here are a few tips to make the cleaning process easy:
- Have a friend/family member hold your cat while you clean his
- Don't use a Q-tip as it can damage the eardrum and push the
debris deeper into the ear. You can use the Q-tip on the earlap
- Before you start cleaning, wrap your cat in a towel so that
he remains still.
- Make sure that you close your mouth and eyes before you let
your cat shake his head.