5 Common Ear Problems in Cats


Is your cat scratching at her ears and shaking her head a little too much?  Cats are susceptible to certain kinds of ear problems, especially if they are allowed to go outside.  What are the most common ear issues your cat can experience, and what can you do to help him find some relief from a very annoying problem?  Here’s a quick rundown (be sure to see your vet for a proper diagnosis and medication):


Ear mites

One of the most common ear issues experienced by cats and kittens (especially if they’re allowed outside or come into contact with other cats) is ear mites.  Mites are a tiny parasite that live in the ear canal.  Lots of scratching and head shaking is common with mites.  You probably will also see a buildup of brown wax.  Your vet can easily diagnose mites and can give your cat ear drops.  It’s also important to treat all animals in the house because they spread very easily.


Ear injury

Cat fights are a common cause of ear injuries because the ears are so delicate and exposed.  Bites, scratches, and tears can occur during fights.  These wounds can become infected.  Your cat can also get blood blisters on the ears from fighting…and also from excessive scratching.  See your vet for antibiotics for infected wounds.  Blood blisters should be drained.  Left untreated, they can deform the ear over time.  The best prevention for ear injuries is to neuter cats and keep them indoors to prevent fighting.



Cats can become deaf from old age, ear infections, head injuries, and even when the ears become blocked with too much wax.  It’s also true that certain cats are genetically predisposed to deafness.  The gene associated with white fur and blue eyes can also cause deterioration of the inner ear.  See your vet if you suspect hearing loss in your cat.  Bad infections can lead to permanent hearing loss.


Ear infections

Your cat’s ears can become infected when a foreign body gets stuck in the ear, or from fungus or bacteria.  Your cat will scratch the ear and you may see swelling, redness and discharge.  Infections can be in the ear canal or also go deeper into the inner ear.  Inner ear infections can lead to hearing loss, a tilted head, and even a loss of balance.  See your vet for treatment, which can range from ear drops to oral antibiotics for more serious infections.


Sunburn and frostbite

The ear area can be a common site of skin cancer in cats, especially those with light colored fur who spend a lot of time out in the sun.  Keeping your cat indoors will protect him from direct sun exposure.  You can also apply a pet sunscreen to your cat’s ears.  Growths and sores that do not heal can be a sign of skin cancer.  See your vet to discuss treatment.  Ears (along with paws and tails) can also be affected by frostbite.  Keep your cat indoors during cold weather. 


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