Ear Problems for Cats | Winslow Animal Hospital Dog & Cat


Have you noticed your cat constantly messing with their ears or shaking their head? Or maybe their ear is all red and swollen? Winslow Animal Hospital is here to help you understand what the problem might be.

 Ear Mites

These little guys are parasites that love to hang out in your cat’s ear. They cause your furry friend to scratch and their ears, neck, and head. You may even notice your kitty shaking its head and coffee ground looking dandruff in their ear. Ear mites are very easily passed around from cat to cat. However, they are most commonly found in kittens. 

Outer ear infection

Outer ear infections have some of the same symptoms as a ear mite infestations. Your cat will star scratching more and shake their heads. If you notice that the ear is very swollen, red, and has distinctive smelling discharge,  then you know that it is an ear infection. These infections can other be bacterial or yeast.

Veterinarians will typically look under a microscope to determine if is bacterial (and what kind of bacteria) or yeast.  From there they will prescribe the appropriate treatment based on what caused the infection and what your pet’s needs are.

Middle and inner ear infection

Middle and inner ear infections are much more severe then an outer ear infection. Symptoms can include the head shaking and scratching but also,

  • lethargy
  • trouble walking
  • trouble hearing
  • squinting
  • unequal pupil size
  • decreased appetite
  • abnormal eye movement
  • drooping on one side of the face

Veterinarians typically diagnose this through X-rays, CT’s, or MRI’s in conjunction with symptoms and a physical exam. Treatment can include surgery along with systemic antibiotics.

Foreign objects

If something gets lodged into your cat’s ear, it is best to let your Veterinarian take care of it. They will be able to sedate them to make the process less stressful. The veterinarian can also examine the ear for damage and prescribe medication if necessary. 


The most common form of this is food allergies. If your pet is having an allergic reaction, often times the itchiness is located on the head and ears. Make sure to discuss any dietary needs with your veterinary and if hypoallergenic food is a good choice for your cat. So if your cat is itching and there is no other possible reason, then a food allergy might be the culprit. 

Bites and Scratches

Cats are more likely to get bitten and scratched if you live in a multi-cat home or if they go outside. When the cats fight, they tend to go after the parts that are most sensitive and easily hurt. The ear happens to be one of those spots. If your pet gets injured by another cat, please contact your veterinarian have them look at it. 


Mange is when mites begin to live underneath your cats skin and reproduce. The mites tend to focus around the head and ears. This can cause scaly and thickened skin and extreme itching. Many cats itch to the point of harming themselves. Your veterinarian will have to see what kind of mite it is so they can prescribe the right medication.


Polyps are growths that form in the inner ear and the the Eustachian tube (a tube that connects the ear to the nasal passage) – they often lead to ear infections. Polyps are benign, but have to be removed surgically. 


Of course there are other ways in which your cat could have problems with their ears. Cats are also masters at hiding pain and discomfort, so if you notice anything out of the ordinary please call your veterinarian. 

One Comment

  • Brenda swampter says:

    I have two cats who turned ,8 yrs old and they were born with ear mites. I have had to treat with Dresoderm and recently vet has been using an OTK gel to use and I have been applying in my kitties ears. They are my kids who I love dearly. I am a retired clinical research Nurse and read a lot about different feline disorders. Do you see patients.

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