What Is a Cat Ear Infection?
A cat ear infection is an inflammation of the ear canal and/or ear structures. There are three types of ear infections – otitis externa (if it affects the ear canal), otitis media (if it affects the middle ear), and otitis interna (if it affects the inner ear and eardrum).
Ear infections in cats can be caused by mites, yeast, or bacteria. The most common symptoms of a cat ear infection are itchy ears, strong odors, and head-shaking.
Is an Ear Infection in a Cat an Emergency?
No, a cat ear infection is not always an emergency. For example, an outer ear infection is likely to go away on its own.
However, you should take your cat to the vet in case of severe infection, excessive waxy buildup in the ear canal, and in cases of chronic ear infections. You should also see a vet if the ear problem is accompanied by additional symptoms like fever, lethargy, and loss of balance.
What Causes Ear Infections in Cats?
Here are the most common causes of cat ear infection:
- Allergies. Cats prone to allergies can also develop ear infections. In fact, all cases of a chronic ear infection and irritation could be caused by an undiagnosed allergy.
- Bacterial Infections. Bacteria like Mycoplasma spp. can cause ear infections in cats. Bacterial ear infections require veterinary care and proper treatment with antibiotics.
- Yeast Infections. The most common cause of fungal ear infections in cats is Malassezia spp. The yeast normally lives in the cat’s ears, but if conditions change, it can overgrow, resulting in feline ear infections.
- Ear Mite Infestation. Ear mites are tiny parasites that live inside the cat’s ears and feed on ear wax (cerumen). The most common signs of ear mites are strong odor and ear discharge that looks like coffee grounds. Ear mites in cats can be treated with anti-parasitic ear drops.
- Foreign Body. Cats often get things stuck in their ears — like twigs or grass seeds — which can irritate them and cause an infection if left untreated for too long.
- Trauma. Traumatic injuries to the ear can include cuts or punctures to the flap of skin that covers the inner part of the ear canal. These injuries can allow bacteria to enter the area and cause an infection.
- Cancer. Cancerous growths can develop inside your cat’s ear canal, blocking it completely. This will cause pain and discomfort for your feline friend. Your vet may need to remove the growth surgically so it doesn’t spread to other parts of your pet’s body.
How do You Know if a Cat Has an Ear Infection?
Some of the signs of an ear infection in cats are:
- Scratching or rubbing the ears or head
- Excessive head shaking or head tilting
- Polyp, tumor, or foreign body in the ear
- Frequent pawing at their ear
- Redness, swelling, and draining from the ear canal
- Excess wax buildup in the ear and around the ears
- Unpleasant and strong odor from the ears
- Discharge that is either bloody or pus-like (often greenish colored)
What is the Treatment for a Cat Ear Infection?
The treatment for cat ear infection depends on the underlying cause.
Some minor cases of ear infections can be solved at home using prescribed and over-the-counter ear drops and ear cleaners. Here is a more detailed look at these treatments.
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy Medicated Ear Drops to Help Relieve Bacterial and Fungal Infections in Cats. These prescription-strength ear drops help relieve the symptoms of bacterial and fungal infections in cats.
The solution is an effective treatment for both conditions and can be used to prevent re-infection. The drops contain a combination of antibacterial and antifungal agents designed to treat the root cause of the infection.
These ear drops should be used as directed by the veterinarian, but most pets will receive one drop in each ear twice daily until the ear infection clears up. If the condition persists or recurs after using this medication as directed, consult your trusted veterinarian.
Zymox Otic Ear Solution with 1% Hydrocortisone. Featuring 1% hydrocortisone, this is a potent ear treatment. The product relieves bacterial and fungal infections of the ear and inflammation. It soothes irritation and returns the normal pale pink color of the ear canal.
Zymox Otic Ear Solution is safe for dogs and cats of all life stages. The solution comes in a 1.25 fl oz bottle specially designed to make it easy to administer drops directly into the ear canal. The bottle has an easy one-hand dispensing cap, allowing you to administer the medicine without touching it with your fingers.
BEXLEY LABS Curaseb Cat Ear Infection Treatment. The BEXLEY LABS Curaseb Cat Ear Infection Treatment is a natural formula that helps clear up cat infections. The medication works to treat ear mites, bacterial infections, and other ear health issues. The formula is free from harsh chemicals or irritants, making it safe for use on both adults and kittens.
The BEXLEY LABS Curaseb has been tested and rated safe by veterinarians. It comes in a small tube that makes it easy to apply directly into the ear canal. The formula contains no parabens, steroids, or antibiotics, so it works safely even when used long-term.
Curaseb Cat Ear Infection Treatment Wipes. Curaseb Cat Ear Infection Treatment Wipes are a convenient alternative to liquid treatments. The ear wipes contain ketoconazole as the main active ingredient (an antifungal medicine that treats yeast infections).
The wipes also great for treating minor skin infections or wounds on your cat’s body. If you have a cat with frequent ear infections or are looking for an effective way to clean your pet’s ears, Curaseb Cat Ear Infection Treatment Wipes are an excellent option.
Pet MD Veterinary Tris Flush Cat Ear Cleaner. This cat ear cleaner is specially formulated to clean and dry the cat ear canal effectively. It features a gentle, non-irritating formula that cleans the ears while soothing irritation. The product does not contain harsh chemicals.
Pet MD Veterinary Tris Flush Cat Ear Cleaner also helps relieve the symptoms of ear infection. Plus, it is safe for cats and dogs.
Pet MD Cat Ear Cleaner Wipes Advanced Otic Veterinary Ear Cleaner Formula. This is a great alternative to liquid ear cleaners. This product is specially formulated to clean your cat’s ears and get rid of any buildup that may be present. The wipes are made in the USA and contain no harsh chemicals or alcohol that can harm your feline friend.
The Pet MD Cat Ear Cleaner Wipes Advanced Otic Veterinary Ear Cleaner Formula contains a blend of glycerin and aloe vera, which helps soothe irritation. These ear wipes are also gentle enough to use around kittens as young as four weeks old.
VetWELL Ear Cleaner for Cats. VetWELL Ear Cleaner for Cats is an effective ear cleaner for cats and kittens. This ear cleanser is gentle on your pet’s delicate skin and can be used as often as needed to keep ears clean and healthy.
The ear cleaner will not burn or irritate your cat’s ear canal, so it’s safe to use in all situations. So, you have zero need to worry about side effects when using the product. The cleaner features a non-irritating formula made from natural ingredients that gently cleanse the ears without causing pain or discomfort.
Can a Cat’s Ear Infection Go Away on its Own?
Yes, a cat ear infection can go away on its own.
However, it is not recommended to wait for the infection to resolve on its own. Severe cases of cat ear infections can have consequences if left untreated. For example, the cat could develop hearing loss or facial paralysis.
Therefore, it is important to see a vet if you suspect an ear infection. They will examine the cat and use a device called an otoscope to see the inside of the cat’s ear. The vet can also give tips on how to support healthy ears in your pet.
How Long Does it Take for a Cat Ear Infection to go Away?
It depends on the severity of the ear infection.
Some cats will get better in a week or two, but others can have problems for months. If your cat is still having issues after a few weeks, then she should be seen by a veterinarian.
How can I Prevent Cat Ear Infections?
The following are some things pet owners can do to prevent cat ear infections:
- Regular Ear Cleaning. Your cat’s ears should be cleaned regularly, which is the best way to prevent ear infections. You can use a cotton swab or anything similar to clean the ear canal and ear flap. If your cat has long hair, you may want to trim it around its ears to have easier access when cleaning them out.
- Using Preventive Products. Ear mites (one of the most common causes of ear infections in cats) can be prevented by using anti-parasitic spot-on treatments. You should talk to your vet to determine which product is best and how often you need to use it to keep your cat under constant protection.
- High-Quality Diet. It is important to provide your cat with a high-quality diet that will boost its immune system and help fight off infections. A weak immune system makes cats at higher risk of developing ear infections.