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Otitis Externa (Ear Infections) In Cats

Otitis Externa In Cats

What Is Otitis Externa In Cats?

Otitis externa is a common inflammatory condition affecting the outer ear canal of cats. It can be caused by various factors such as allergies, parasites, and infections.

Understanding the symptoms, causes, treatments, and preventive measures of otitis externa is crucial for maintaining the health and well-being of cats.

Clinical Signs Of Otitis Externa In Cats

The symptoms of otitis externa in cats can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity of the condition.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching or rubbing the ear
  • Redness or swelling of the ear canal
  • Pain or discomfort when the ear is touched or manipulated
  • A foul odor coming from the ear
  • Excessive ear wax or discharge
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Bad Smell In Ears
  • Redness In Skin
  • Swelling In Ear
  • Excessive Ear Scratching
  • Scaly Skin
  • Itching Ears
  • Pain In Ears
  • Dark Discharge In Ears
  • Crusting Or Scabs In The Ears
  • Changes In Behavior
  • Lesions In Ears

In severe cases, cats may also develop a fever, become lethargic or lose their appetite.

Treatment Options For Otitis Externa In Cats

The treatment for otitis externa in cats will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be necessary to effectively manage the condition.

Some common treatments include:

  • Ear cleaning: This involves removing any debris or wax from the ear canal using a gentle ear cleaner.
  • Medications: Depending on the underlying cause of the condition, medications such as antibiotics, antifungal medications, or anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed.
  • Management of secondary infections: In some cases, cats may develop secondary bacterial or fungal infections, which will need to be treated with appropriate medications.
  • Allergy management: If the condition is caused by allergies, identifying and managing the allergen may be necessary to prevent future episodes.
  • Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove foreign bodies or to treat chronic or recurrent ear infections.

Home Remedies For Otitis Externa In Cats

While it is important to seek veterinary care for otitis externa, there are some home remedies that may help to relieve mild symptoms.

One option is to use a warm compress on the affected ear to help reduce inflammation and soothe discomfort.

Additionally, some pet owners find that cleaning their cat's ears regularly with a gentle ear cleaning solution can help to prevent ear infections from developing in the first place.

How To Prevent Otitis Externa In Cats?

Preventing otitis externa in cats can be challenging, but there are several steps owners can take to reduce the risk of their cat developing the condition.

Some prevention strategies include:

  • Regular ear cleaning: Regularly cleaning your cat's ears can help prevent the buildup of debris and wax that can lead to inflammation and infection.
  • Allergy management: Identifying and managing any allergies your cat may have can help prevent episodes of otitis externa.
  • Avoidance of foreign bodies: Keeping your cat away from potentially harmful objects, such as sharp grass seeds or plant material, can help prevent trauma to the ear canal.

Affected Cat Breeds Of Otitis Externa

All breeds of cats can develop otitis externa, but certain breeds may be more prone to ear infections due to their ear shape or hair density around the ear.

Breeds such as Persians, Scottish Folds, and Himalayans may be more susceptible to ear infections due to their ear shape and hair growth.

Causes For Otitis Externa In Cats


Otitis externa in cats can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Ear mites: These are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal and can cause intense itching and inflammation.
  • Allergies: Cats can be allergic to a variety of things, including food, pollen, mold, or dust, which can lead to inflammation of the ear canal.
  • Bacterial or fungal infections: These can develop when the ear canal becomes moist and warm, providing a breeding ground for bacteria or fungi.
  • Foreign bodies: Small objects, such as grass seeds or plant material, can become lodged in the ear canal, causing irritation and inflammation.
  • Trauma: Injuries to the ear or head can lead to inflammation and infection.

When To See A Vet For Otitis Externa In Cats?

If you suspect your cat is suffering from otitis externa, it is important to seek veterinary care promptly.

Early treatment can help to prevent the infection from worsening and causing additional damage to the ear.

Signs to watch out for include excessive scratching at the ears, head shaking, redness or swelling in the ear, and discharge or odor coming from the ear.

Food Suggestions For Otitis Externa In Cats

While there are no specific dietary recommendations for cats with otitis externa, providing a high-quality, balanced diet can help to support overall health and immune function.

Talk to your vet about the best diet for your cat's specific needs.


Otitis externa is a common ear infection in cats that can cause discomfort and even lead to more serious health issues if left untreated.

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing the infection from spreading and causing further damage to the ear.

Regular ear cleaning and preventative measures such as parasite control can also help to reduce the risk of ear infections in cats.

If you suspect your cat is suffering from otitis externa, it is important to seek veterinary care promptly to ensure the best possible outcome for your furry friend.

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