Ear infections are most common in cats that spend time outdoors and in kittens. However, any cat can get an ear infection.
The signs to look for are as follows:
- Pain or discomfort; your cat may shy away from having her ear touched and I have also seen cats keep an uncomfortable ear tucked down in a lowered position.
- Shaking of the head or ear scratching.
- Brownish (also black or yellow) discharge which collects within the folds of the ear and can be seen with the naked eye.
- Redness or odor of the ear.
What are the causes of ear infections?
- Ear mites are a common cause of ear infection. Indoor/outdoor cats and kittens or young cats are most prone to getting ear mites, but any cat can get them.
- Ear infections may also be caused by a bacterial or yeast infection.
You should NOT use over the counter ear drops or ear drops prescribed for humans in your cat’s ears. You must take your cat to the veterinarian so that they can determine the type and severity of the ear infection.
Your vet will perform an ear cytology test to determine the type of infection. The vet swabs the discharge from your cat’s ear and examines it under a microscope. Different types of infections require different ear drops. The vet can also clean your cat’s ears with a cotton ball and a delicate cleaning solution. The vet may provide you with this solution to clean your cat’s ears at home. Using a cotton ball to clean your cat’s ears is recommended because you are less likely to damage the ear canal (whereas using a swab there is a greater chance of injuring the ear canal).
Ear drops will clear up most ear infections if applied as recommended. Just keep an eye out for the symptoms listed above and don’t delay in getting to the vet!
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!