Your cat scratches its ears frequently, they seem red and painful… What if it was an ear infection? Otitis in cats is a fairly common disease, which affects felines of all ages and races. This ear condition results in a inflammation of the ear canal, most often caused by bacteria, fungi or parasites.
This pathology constitutes 5% of consultations with the veterinarian. Very painful, it affects only one ear, or both. Most of the time, it is treated very well once it is detected and taken care of quickly. Otherwise, complications can arise and make it chronic. We must therefore watch its appearance! But then, what triggers an ear infection? How to recognize it and treat it? Answers to your questions right away on the Zoomalia blog 🙂
Otitis in cats: the main causes
First of all, there are three types of otitis in cats: external, medium and internal.
- Otitis externa is the most common. It consists of inflammation of the ear canal, in front of the eardrum. It can have several causes: traumatic, parasitic, infectious or mycotic. In traumatic otitis, the presence of a foreign body is often identified. A barley spikelet, for example, gets stuck in the cat’s ear. A scratch or bite type injury can also create inflammation. Another recurring cause: parasites. Some particularly like to attack the ears of animals: this is the case of the Octodectes cynotis mites which cause ear mites, a very contagious disease. Dark earwax will develop and cause otitis, before attacking the eardrum. A tick installed in the ear can also be a cause, although it is rarer. Finally, bacteria are a common trigger for ear infections. When moisture seeps into the ear, it causes maceration, leading to the proliferation of bacteria or even fungi.
- Otitis media is caused by bacteria, often the result of untreated otitis externa. The bacteria will multiply, migrate to the eardrum and pierce it. It can also result from an infection already present in the cat’s body, especially in the respiratory tract. The bacteria will travel up the Eustachian tube, an osteofibrous duct connecting the nasopharynx to the ear, and cause inflammation as they pass. An infection in the blood can also cause otitis media. This applies to cats with a disease like leukosis, also known as cat AIDS.
- Finally, otitis interna is often the result of untreated bacterial otitis media, or a viral infection. However, it remains very rare.
Symptoms of cat ear infections
Knowing the causes of the disease is important in order to understand and treat it. But how do you know if a cat has it? Recognizing an ear infection is quite simple. It manifests itself in various easily identifiable symptoms: the cat shakes its head, leans it to the side; he rubs his ears constantly; itchy sores pain to touch, tender ear; the ear is red or swollen; bad smell coming from the ear; oozing or excess earwax; unwanted meows; behavior change and aggression; hearing loss; loss of appetite.
In the case of otitis interna, disturbing disorders will be visible, such as loss of balance, or poor positioning of the eyelids or iris. Note that this disease does not cause fever. Of course, you don’t have to have all of these symptoms. If your cat suffers from one or more of them, it is strongly recommended to consult a veterinarian, in order to establish a diagnosis.
Remedies for otitis in cats
It is advisable to manage otitis at the first signs, to relieve your cat before it gets worse. For this, you must avoid resorting to self-medication and make an appointment with your veterinarian in order to benefit from auscultation. By examining the ear canal with an otoscope, the practitioner determines the nature and origin of the otitis, and rules out other pathologies.
Depending on the diagnosis, he prescribes the appropriate treatment: antibiotic, antifungal or antiparasitic, as well as a drug to calm the pain. He may also ask for additional examinations if he suspects otitis media for example. He then takes samples or a blood test for analysis. In rare cases, additional imaging (X-ray, MRI) may also be required. Finally, your veterinarian can tell you how to clean your cat’s ears, in order to prevent possible relapses.
For prevent otitis, especially in cats suffering from a chronic form, the first care to be carried out is cleaning. For this, a lear cleansing otion is to be applied directly into the ear, pouring a few drops into it and then massaging lightly, until the product is completely impregnated. Then wipe the inside of the ear with preferably a sterile compress, or a cotton ball, but never use a cotton swab. These are dangerous and often cause injury.
If you are a fan of natural treatments, there are in pharmacies lotions based on propolis and calendula : indicated in the care of the ears, they calm redness and itching. You must always use products that are adapted and specially developed for animals. Untreated ear infections can lead to serious complications, such as a pierced eardrum leading to deafness. Better to prevent!
Although quite common and easily treated, otitis in cats is not to be taken lightly. Very painful, it can lead to superinfection and complications if left untreated. Fortunately, it can be avoided by taking simple steps! We advise you to always have a physiological ear cleaner for cats in your medicine cabinet. At Zoomalia you will find a range of lotions and cleansers. Good hygiene of the ears, but also of the coat and eyes is essential for the health of your cat.