Cat Ear Infection: Prevention & Seeking Treatment

Cat Ear Infection

cat ear anatomy

Picture Credit: Cat Watch Newsletter

Cats don’t generally develop an ear infection, but when they do, it could cause discomfort and possible deafness.

If they are in contact with other cats with ear mites, chances of them having the same infection are high. An underlying medical problem may cause an ear infection too.

Causes
  • Overgrowth of yeast or bacteria, or both
  • Wax buildup in the ear canal
  • Thick hair in the ear canal
  • Food or pollen allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Tumors/polyps within the ear canal
  • Ruptured eardrum
  • Improper ear cleaning
  • Foreign bodies such as bristle from grass
  • Environmental irritants
  • Diabetes mellitus
Symptoms

Cat Ear Infection

  • Black/yellowish discharge
  • Redness/ swelling of the ear flap or ear canal
  • Waxy Buildup
  • Discharge from ear canal that resembles coffee grounds which is the symptoms of ear mites
  • Foul odor
  • Loss of hearing
  • Loss of balance or disorientation
Treatment

If your cat has ear mites, yeast or bacterial infections, your vet will treat it with anti-parasitics, antifungals or antibiotics. These medications come in the form of ear drops.

However, if the infection has reached the middle ear, the vet may prescribe oral medication or injectable antibiotics.

Your vet may clip off the fur around the cat’s ear canal to help with cleaning and drying of the ear canal. Once you’re home, apply medication as instructed. If unsure, get the vet to demonstrate to you how it should be done.

However, if your cat is having chronic infection, the vet may prescribe a medication that helps to reduce the swell in the ear canal. Sometimes a surgery is needed to remove swollen tissue that has narrowed or closed the ear canal.

Cats with diabetes or weak immune system are prone to getting an ear infection.

Prevention

Check your cat’s ear regularly to make sure there’s no redness, swelling or foul odor. Clean when necessary. A healthy ear should be pale pink and have no visible debris, odor, minimal or no ear wax.

Get your vet or groomer to show you how to clean your cat’s ears. As regular checks and cleaning help prevent painful ear infection in your cat.

How To Clean Your Pet’s Ears

Anatomy of Pet’s Ears

Canine Ear AnatomyPhoto Source: Miles & Emma

Before cleaning your pet’s ear, it is best to understand the anatomy. This is to prevent going too deep while cleaning and hurting your pet’s ear. Above is the illustration of a canine ear. Unlike our ears, their ear’s anatomy is in the form of an L shape. Thus, extra care is needed when cleaning their ears.

Things to prepare:

  • Cleaning solution
  • Ear powder (for dogs that requires inner ear fur removal)
  • Ear Forceps
  • Cotton
  • Treats (for rewarding your pet after ear cleaning)

Inner Ear Fur

Not all breeds require inner ear fur removal. Although there are some groomers who might refuse to pluck out the inner ear fur, the majority still does. Dogs with droopy ears, such as poodle and schnauzer, are prone to hair buildup in the ear canal. This can prevent airflow and trap moisture, leading to an increased growth of bacteria or fungi. These cause irritations and infections to occur.

Removing the inner ear fur can be painful if done wrong and may cause a traumatic experience for your pet. If you’re afraid or unsure how to handle your pet for this procedure, we would advise you to leave it to the professionals.

Steps to inner ear fur removal:

  1. Get you and your pet in a comfortable position. Make sure the area you’re at are well lit and not too dark.
  2. Pour a considerable amount of ear powder into your pet’s ear canal.
  3. Using either your finger or ear forceps, slowly remove the inner ear fur bit by bit in a pulling or plucking manner. Do not pull out a whole chunk as this may cause your pet’s ears to be in pain and inflamed.
  4. Repeat for the other ear. Reward your pet for being cooperative. This is to encourage them as well as giving them a good experience towards this procedure.

If you are unsure if your pet requires removing of the inner ear fur, feel free to consult us.

*Cats do not require any removal of inner ear fur.

Cleaning Your Pet’s Ear

Before purchasing ear cleaning solution, do check on the ingredients and labels. Not all ear cleaning solutions are suitable for cats. Most solutions contain alcohol, which some dogs are allergic or sensitive to.

If your pet has an ear infection, it is best to use the prescribed medicated solution or consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure.

Steps to ear cleaning:

  1. Get both you and your pet into a comfortable position. Make sure the area you’re in is well lit and not too dark.
  2. Pour ear solution in your pet’s ear canal and gently massage the base of the ear. Your dog may want to shake its head, allow it to as a good shake will help loosen the debris inside.
  3. Using the forceps, secure a piece of cotton and wrap the tip. Gently wipe the area that you could see. Do not go too deep as you might hurt your pet’s ear. If you’re afraid of cleaning the inner area, leave it to your groomer and just clean the outer part.
  4. Reapply ear solution on cotton if needed. Stop when the cotton comes out clean.
  5. Repeat for the other ear. Reward your pet for being cooperative. This is to encourage them as well as giving them a good experience towards this procedure.

Do note that ear infection might cause discomfort and pain to your pet. Clean gently and if you are unable to do so, get help from your veterinarian or you may contact us.

How Often Should You Clean Your Pet’s Ears?

If your pet doesn’t have any ear issues such as inflammation or infection, cleaning it once every two weeks should be fine. However, it is best to check regularly. Make sure your pet’s ears are dry after a shower as trapped moisture may cause bacteria growth which may result in infection.

We would recommend a weekly cleaning after a shower if your pet gets ear problems easily. This regular routine also gives you the chance to check on the ears. At least you will know if a visit to the vet is required.

Getting Your Pet To Enjoy Ear Cleaning

Cleaning your pet’s ears should be a positive experience. Unless they had a traumatic experience at the groomer or you might have hurt them when trying to do it yourself. Signing up for a basic grooming course for owners may help you do it the right way. Sometimes infections might be the cause of them being afraid of someone touching their ears. It is possible to get them to enjoy ear cleaning again, but it takes time and effort to gain back their trust.

Gently touching your pet’s ears during interaction allows them to know that it is OK. Frequently touch their ears may help to prepare them for ear cleaning. Rewarding them if they show positive behaviour when you touch their ears may help. Do it on a regular basis and they will learn that it is OK for their ears to be touched. It takes time to gain their trust. So don’t give up if your pet requires a longer time.

To schedule for an appointment for ear cleaning, leave us a text at (+65) 9758 3568.