A healthy cat can have an incredible sense of hearing, honed over years and years of evolution. Their acute hearing helps them hunt and detect intruders in their territory. While ear issues are relatively uncommon, it’s still important to protect this vital part of your cat!
What Causes Ear Infection in Cats?
Ear infections develop when the skin in your cat’s ear canal becomes irritated. It becomes inflamed and causes too much ear wax to be produced, creating the perfect environment for bacteria and yeast.
In most cases, ear infections are a result of an underlying health condition like allergies or diabetes. Having a weak or compromised immune system can also increase the likelihood of ear infections in your cat.
Other common causes of cat ear infections include:
Allergens and other irritants in the environment
Immune system deficiencies and/or diseases like Diabetes
Foreign bodies stuck in the ear canal
Thick fur or hair growth in the ear canal
Polyps or tumours in the ear
Symptoms of Cat Ear Infections
Since ear infections in cats can cause itchiness, you may notice your cat scratching their ears and expressing their discomfort. They may also exhibit other symptoms like tilting their head or losing their balance.
If you examine their ears more closely, you may notice:
black cat ear discharge
swelling or redness in the ear canals
ear waxy buildup in the canals
a strong odour coming from the ear
Swelling or redness in the ear flap
Serious ear infections may also lead to some hearing loss if left untreated. If you’re unsure if your cat is experiencing ear infections, it’s always best to visit a veterinarian. There they will be able to use special tools like an otoscope to take a closer look at your cat’s ear canals
Is it an Ear Infection or Cat Ear mites?
With cats, the symptoms of ear mites can resemble those of a cat ear infection. However, the method to treat both of these issues differ greatly so it’s important to identify your feline’s health issues carefully!
The environment that your cat is in can clarify which cat health issue they are currently facing. For one, cat ear mites typically occur in outdoor cats who have travelled to areas infested with ear mites. Cat ear mites may also occur in kittens.
If your cat has not had any contact with a kitten or been outdoors, it’s more likely that they are experiencing ear infections.
Of course, if your cat is indeed experiencing ear mites, ear drops and preventative medication like Revolution For Cats can be a helpful tool to clear out the issue quickly. But it’s important to understand that ear infections require different types of medication so it’s best to avoid self-medicating unless you’re certain your feline has ear mites.
In fact, certain medications can actually cause hearing loss in your cat if their eardrum is ruptured instead of your cat having ear mites!
Treating Ear Infections in Cats
Thankfully, the treatment of ear infections isn’t complicated.
For the most part, you will just need to help your cat keep their ear flap and ear canal clean. Your vet may clip the fur around your cat’s ear canals to help keep it nice and dry.
Special medication may also be provided. These types of ear drops must be squeezed into your cat’s ear canals and gently massaged into the ear.
Preventing Ear Infections
Nevertheless, prevention is always better than cure - especially since chronic ear infections can have a significant impact on your cat, especially on their hearing!
#1 Monitor Your Cat’s Ears
In order to effectively treat or prevent cat ear infections, make sure to regularly monitor your cat’s ears. Check for bad odors, residue, redness or other symptoms so that you can nip the problem in the bud
Regularly checking your cat’s ears will also tell you when you might need to clean their ears or bring them to a vet for a check-up!
#2 Clean Your Cat’s Ears
While it’s not strictly necessary to clean your cat’s ears, some cats are prone to wax build-ups and ear infections. In general, ear canals can be hard to clean, and irritants can easily get trapped deep within.
To help prevent this, clean your cat’s ears with the correct tools like TropiClean’s OxyMed Ear Cleaner. These professional grade ear cleaners help dissolve ear wax and prevent ear odor, allowing your cat to maintain excellent ear hygiene.
#3 Avoid Excessive Sunlight
Ear infections can be a result of your cat developing polyps and tumors in the ear. In particular, squamous cell carcinoma cancers can emerge from the tips of your cat’s ears. This cancer is most common in cats that have high exposure to harsh sunlight.
While your cat may enjoy resting in the heat of the sun, try to avoid giving them too much outdoor time. Having a curtain in your cat’s favourite room can also be a great way to manage harsh sunlight.
#4 Bathe Your Cat
Like tip #2, bathing your cat is not strictly necessary as most cats are able to clean themselves well. However, a good shower once in a while can keep their skin, coat and ears healthy!
Of course, if your cat is an outdoor cat, bathing them occasionally can have many added benefits. Similarly, you should give your cat a bath more often if they have long coats, dislike self-grooming or if they are predisposed to ear infections.
You can also use ear wipes like Woosh’s Pet Ear Wipes to help clean your cat’s ears between cat baths. It’s important to use special ear wipes as these are gentler on your cat’s ears and have special ingredients like Witch Hazel and Persimmon extract to manage wax buildup.
The trick with managing ear infections is detecting and treating them early! The process of regularly cleaning cat’s ears can help you drastically reduce the risk of your cat experiencing these issues.
With that said, if you do notice something wrong with your cat’s ears, it’s always a good idea to consult a vet for an opinion - especially since ear infections are generally uncommon and can be a sign of more serious underlying issues.
Tammi is an avid writer, but especially loves learning and writing about animals! She spends her free time visiting cat cafes, playing video games and having plenty of cuddle time with her pup.