At first glance ear disease in cats may see not such a serious problem, like for example a viral infection. However, if you don’t start treatment promptly primitive fungus can cause deafness and even death of your pet. Responsible owner should pay attention to any symptoms indicating the illness of a cat and ask for help from a veterinarian if necessary.
When a cat feels pain in the ear, it often tilts its head, presses the hurting ear, rubs it with paws and doesn’t allow the owner touch this place. The cat becomes irritable, not eager to contact with the owner. In severe cases, the loss of appetite and some aggression are noticed. Almost all diseases of cats’ ears exhibit similar symptoms:
- the inner surface of the ear is dirty, earwax changes its color;
- the cat constantly scratches its ears trying to relieve the itching, constantly tugging the ears with paws and claws. Some cats may rub their heads against the floor or upholstered furniture;
- the ears have unpleasant smell;
- the skin of inner ear is irritated: redness, rashes and sores appear;
- the cat shakes its ears, as if they had been exposed to water;
- if the disease is neglected, heard a squish is heard when pressing on the ear.
Otoacariasis or ear mange
Otoacariasis is one of the most common parasitic diseases of the ears. The pathogen is a tiny mite that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Most often these mites appear in the ears of cats as a result of contact with sick animals, but even those cats that never leave their owner’s place may get sick. Ear mites feed on the blood and lymph, biting into the thin skin. The cat is constantly scratching its ears and becomes anxious. The main symptom of this disease is profuse brownish secretions. Simple ear cleaning is useless: you may clean this “mess” in the evening and in the morning the ears look just like the day before, full of with these small “coffee” crumbs. These secretions are waste products of mites mixed with dried up blood derived from microscopic wounds.
Cat ear structure is similar to the structure of the human ear – there are outer, middle and inner ears. First mites settle in the outer ear. When breeding, they take up more space. Then the inflammation of the external ear begins, after that the eardrum is hit and the infection penetrates into the middle ear, as a result the otitis develops.
Mites in the ears of cats resemble the larger ones that are visible: they have an elongated body, long legs and sharp jaws. It is very simple to get rid of them. You should just clean the cat’s ears daily removing the accumulated secretions with wet gauze and then put any drops against ear mange (for example Cipam) into each ear (even if one ear looks healthy). The duration of treatment is 1 week maximum. If no improvement is noticeable then ask a vet for help. The second way is to clean cat’s ears and put two drops of Stronghold into each ear. Repeat the procedure in a month. In most cases, a single use of Stronghold is enough, it’s quite a serious remedy, but you may use it for the second time to make sure your cat is healthy.
Hematomas are formed as a result of ear injuries and look like a swollen lump or bruise. Inside the hematoma there are broken blood vessels and some inner blood flows can be noticed. The cat feels pain in the ear, it doesn’t let anyone touch the sore spot, presses its ear to the head. Leaving hematoma untreated you may cause strong ear deformation. In severe cases, a tissue necrosis or an abscess may happen.
Ear infections of traumatic nature in cats are a reason to go to your vet. In case you notice a hematoma you should imposed a pressure bandage on the cat’s head to pinch the vessels and stop the bleeding, and then take your pet to the clinic. Depending on the size and type of hematoma, the vet will either remove the accumulated fluid with a syringe, or will dissect it.
Sometimes traumatic diseases of cat’s ears can become a cause of an abscess. A smallest scratch may become a nidus for infection. Abscesses are difficult to distinguish from hematomas without the help of a vet: apparently they are swelling, but abscesses are filled not with blood, but with pus. The doctor will open the abscess, handle the wound with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents, and then put the drain so that pus could escape from the wound freely, and then will prescribe treatment. In some cases, you need to put on the “Elizabethan” collar (if the cat is scratching its ears), and give antibiotics (if the cat’s body temperature is increased); sometimes the infusion therapy is required (if the cat refuses to eat).
Festering sores on cat’s ears, as a rule, are a symptom of a fungal infection. Small sores ripen and burst out, the liquid of grayish yellow or pinkish color is oozing from the hole. The first aid is the following: wipe the ulcers with the sterile gauze and sprinkle with chopped Streptocid tablet. Ointment can’t be used in this case, as the ulcer should be dried first. A vet shall prescribe necessary treatment after examining scrapings.
Inflammation of the external ear
Outer ear otitis is a serious condition that requires immediate treatment in the clinic. Symptoms: the cat is scratching the ears and shaking its head, some serous fluid is oozing from the ear. Possible causes: ear mites, foreign body in the ear, hypothermia, earwax impaction, water in the ear canal. The treatment should be organized by a veterinarian! If you neglect otitis, the disease may become chronic or spread to the middle and inner ear.
Inflammation of the middle and inner ear
Inner ear otitis in cats is an ear infection, which can lead to irreversible consequences. Causes: ear mite, untreated external ear otitis, tumors, head injuries, staphylococcal or streptococcal infection. Symptoms: abundant pus, blood or serous discharge, squish sound when the ear is pressed, unpleasant smell. The structure of cat’s ears doesn’t allow examining the focus of inflammation with the naked eye, but the behavior of the pet shows that it is seriously ill: the cat presses the ear closer to the head, loses appetite; the temperature rises, the cat doesn’t let the owner touch the ears. The veterinarian shall prescribe the treatment after examining scrapings and blood. Typically, locally acting medications in combination with antibiotics are used.
Sometimes owners cannot understand why the cat is scratching the ears, if neither mites nor a fungal infection are found, no inflammation and no injuries. But the ears are red, covered with rash; the cat is furiously scratching them, exacerbating the situation. In the end, noticing some falling hair, the owners decide that it looks like Ringworm in cats. However lichen (microsporia or trichophytosis) spreads rapidly throughout the body surface and is easily diagnosed. Such rashes and itching can be caused by the ongoing food or contact allergy. If so – a good allergist only can help in such a situation! For the temporary relief you can treat itchy skin with Naphtaderm or Fenistil ointment. Ointment relieves itching and inflammation, but doesn’t cure the cat – so you need to consult a vet anyway.