Ear Discharge Average Cost

From 229 quotes ranging from $200 - 500

Average Cost

$250

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What is Ear Discharge?

Irregular ear discharge in cats is commonly referred to as otitis in the veterinary world, as otitis means inflammation of the ear. Tumors, allergens, parasites, and infections can all cause ear discharge otitis, leading to painful, pruritic ears. A feline with infectious ear discharge will scratch her ears profusely, which often progresses to eardrum rupture and permanent damage to the ear in general. Ear discharge in cats is regularly misdiagnosed by cat owners; incorrect treatment will cause the condition to worsen. Ear discharge in cats must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian to avoid secondary ear trauma to the feline.

Ear discharge in cats in a thick, waxy substance that prevents particles from entering the inner portions of the ears. In a healthy cat, the ears will have very little ear wax and the discharge will be a light brownish color. The healthy discharge will have no smell and be accompanied by a pink, clean inner ear canal. However, black, dark brown, or irregularly pigmented discharge in a cat’s ears, accompanied by a foul smell, is a red flag to a health problem. Ear mites and yeast infections account for the majority of abnormal ear discharge cases in felines, but the condition can also be caused by bacteria, immune-related conditions, and drug reactions, as well as allergies. 

Symptoms of Ear Discharge in Cats

The primary clinical sign of ear discharge in cats is a thick, irregularly colored wax buildup inside one or both ears. The discharge may or may not promote a foul smell, but almost all felines respond to the excess discharge with scratching. Additional symptoms of ear discharge to watch for in your cat include: 

  • Head shaking 
  • Head tilting 
  • Loss of balance
  • Pawing at the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Ear sensitivity 
  • Pain 
  • Large amount of earwax buildup

Causes of Ear Discharge in Cats

Ear discharge in cats can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions including parasites, infections, trauma and even immune-mediated diseases that suppress the feline’s immunity. 

  • Immune-mediated disease 
  • Hereditary condition 
  • Drug reaction 
  • Polyps
  • Tumors
  • Wax buildup
  • Allergies to food or inhaled and environmental substances
  • Bacterial ear infection
  • Yeast infection
  • Trapped foreign body 
  • Ear mites 

Diagnosis of Ear Discharge in Cats

Your veterinarian will begin the diagnostic process by reviewing your cat’s medical history, as the feline’s health record will highlight past ear infection cases and previous illness. It is at this time that you should expect to answer questions about your feline’s current symptoms including what they are and how long they have been noted. Ear discharge can be caused by allergens and drug reactions, so it is important to relay any changes in diet or medications to the veterinarian. The animal doctor will then move onto performing a physical exam. Ear discharge in cats can provide valuable information to the vet and through the use of an otoscope, the doctor may have a hypothesis of the underlying cause. 

Ear mite parasites often cause a black ear discharge, whereas yeast infections cause the discharge to expel a foul smell. However, a cytology test will be required to properly identify the ailment and avoid treating the problem incorrectly. A cytological test requires only a swab of discharge from your cat’s ear to be placed under microscopic view. It is this diagnostic test that will differentiate a yeast infection from a mite infection, as ear mites can only be seen under a microscope. 

Additionally, the veterinarian may choose to conduct an allergy test if primary testing turned out to be negative. Allergy testing can be performed on the skin or through the use of your cat’s blood. Ear polyps or tumors present will likely be biopsied to identify the cancerous nature.

Treatment of Ear Discharge in Cats

The treatment of ear discharge in cats depends on the underlying ailment causing the abnormal accumulation of ear debris. In the case of an ear mite, bacterial or yeast infection, treatment will begin with cleaning out the ear. The ear structure of a cat is not like that of a human ear and should be cleaned by a professional. The ear cleaning is then followed by medicated drops of antimicrobial or antifungal nature. Ear mites are often terminated through the cleaning solution used to clean the ear, and therefore, will likely not require medicated drops. Ask your veterinarian about the proper treatment option for your cat and her ear discharge. 

Recovery of Ear Discharge in Cats

The prognosis for ear discharge in cats is excellent if a proper diagnosis is made and treatment received right away. Secondary trauma to the ear, such as ruptured blood vessels or a ruptured ear drum, are often permanent. Ear trauma is known to cause disfiguration of the ear and hearing loss, which will require continuous management.

Ear Discharge Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Sophia
Persian
8 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

No appetite
Ear Fluids Comes out
Rapid breathing
small black thing in his ear

Our cat is a Persian (i think) we don't know how old is I think he is around 6-9 month lod we got him very poorly. His previous owner just lets him room to their condominium which where my sister works there and saved him. Fleas everywhere in his body, urine and feces are entangled in his fur. That was 4 months ago but now on his ears, there are fluids coming out and has no appetite to it. What should we do? Is there any natural home remedies that we can use because we don't have any money to go to the vet.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
You should try to clean Sophia’s ears with an over the counter ear cleaner and you may also find some natural ear drops at your local pet store. However, if there is no improvement you should visit a Veterinarian at a charity clinic or other organisation for more aggressive treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Tippy
Siamese
7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Clear or yellow discharge from ear

Could my cat have an ear infection? I noticed a crusty area by the lower part of the outside of her ear. I took a warm washcloth and noticed a yellowish clear discharge. The inside of the ear is clean and pink but in that area may be a little more pink in color.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
If the ear canal is unaffected it is possible that Tippy may have an abscess or another source of pus, without examining her I cannot say for certain but this is something to visit your Veterinarian about to confirm the cause and to prescribe treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Morty
Orange tabby
13 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

balance
involuntary tremors
large amount of thick black discharge
Scratching at both ears
sensitivity

Medication Used

Cosequin

My cat has had a large amount of thick dark brown/black discharge in both ears for about 4 years, and other symptoms including scratching at both ears, sensitivity, balance, head tilting, and most disturbing to me, involuntary head-shaking (tremors? looks like someone with Parkinson's disease). I've taken him to 4 different vets and he's going to a specialist now, but no diagnosis. Recently the vet saw a small infection in his left ear and prescribed antibiotics. I asked if I could put it in both ears just to see if it would help with the other symptoms and he said yes. I used it for 14 days and the discharge went away, as did all his other symptoms. Within 2 days all symptoms returned. I'm really at a loss and so is his doctor. I've even shown him a video of his involuntary head-shaking but still no idea why. Please help!!

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
I'm not sure why your veterinarians have not been able to resolve Morty's problem for all of these years, but it seems very centered on his ears, and there must be something unusual going on that is making it so difficult to treat. He may need a culture to determine the proper medication to use, or a regime of ongoing treatment to help resolve his signs. Common causes for what you are describing include bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections, polyps or tumors, and anatomic defects. I hope that you are able to resolve his ear problems.

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Cathy
8 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Low Energy
Head Shaking
Ear Discharge
Head Tilt
Ear Lesion
Ear Itching

Medication Used

Amoxicillin

Hello my cat has a brownish discharge in one of her ears but it doesnt have any smell at all. I think it has happened for 3 days, but i just see the discharge now. She just got back from her vet after getting neutered. I wonder if it is because she is stressed by the trip to the vet or it actually happened before she is neutered. Now she has no appetite

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Bee
Shorthair Domestic
2 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

not playing
Been sleeping more
Smell from ears
Smell
Not moving around as much

My girl cat being acting odd lately. She has dark brown doscharge from her eyes. And recently she hasnt been playing or eating lately. Is there on over the counter medicine I can give to her that will help with the inflamation.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
If there is a smell from the ears, you should be able to get a ear cleaning solution from your nearest pet shop as well as some antimicrobial drops; also for the eye, apply a warm moist towel to help remove any discharge followed by flushing the eye with a sterile saline solution, you can get an ophthalmic ointment for the eye over the counter which should be applied as directed on the product. If you see no improvement, especially given her age you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Snowball
Siamese/Ragdoll
1 Year
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

My cat Snowball started having a green discharge from his right ear 5 days ago. His ear was red, swollen and painful, he held his head hanging down tilted to the right side. We took him to the vet who cleaned it out, did a crytological swab, and said it was an infection. Gave us Tresaderm 2x daily. Now Snowball is seeming better, but has the green discharge covering about a third of the visible inside of his ear daily. Still tilts head to rt side. Should he go back to the vet?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Five days is still early in treatment, you should give it another three to five days of treatment to see if there is any continued improvement; if there is no improvement during the coming week you should visit your Veterinarian again for another examination and review of treatment. If the discharge or other symptoms get worse, you should return to your Veterinarian earlier. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Thank you, they only told us to treat him for 7 days, if still having discharge then should we go back?

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Kirko.
tabby
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen red ear, smelly discharge

My 3 year old cat kirko has had a very swollen ear for about a week. It smells very very bad and has an oily puss like discharge..his behavior has been different much more lazy. Hard sometimes to get him to eat. He was vomiting for about 24 hours right before I noticed his ear. He has always had eye problems raw red sometimes bloody. The vet didn't tell me much about his eyes though. What kind of infection could this be? What can I do to help him? Possibley without the expenses of a vet..

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that kirko is having these problems. Since she is having discharge and a swollen, painful ear, and isn't eating, and is vomiting, he really needs to see his veterinarian to have an exam, diagnose what is going on, and get him treatment and relief. I hope that he does well.

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Cheyenne
tabby
19 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Discharg
Hearing Loss

My fur baby Cheyenne is 19yrs, she is blind in one eye and can not hear, I noticed today she has a thick discharge in her right ear, also she has arthritis in her back and tail. Thank you

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Senior animals are more susceptible to infection than they were when they were younger. Cheyenne may need treatment for her ears, and may benefit from pain management for her arthritis. It would be a great idea to have her seen by a veterinarian to look at her ears and discuss any safe pain medication for her if it seems appropriate. I hope that you have many comfortable years left with her!

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Siddalee
Cat
4 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Head Shaking

My kitten still has fluid in ear after antibiotic ear drops. Dr. Acts like it's nothing, but she is constantly shaking her head and scrating them.i use revolution and she is free from fleas, and no ear mitts. This has been going on for 2 months. They looked and said they look fine but there's fluid. Seems illogical, their answer for me to keep using the drops. 2mo of them no results. Help please. Thanks
Amanda

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Some cats require longer treatment than others, however two months is a long time for treatment and we shouldn’t be seeing symptoms at this point; if there is still pawing at the ears and head shaking the infection may still be present or another treatment option may be needed. Without examining Siddalee I cannot say whether a different medication is needed or surgery. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Pudditat
Calico
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Lymphoma
Ear leaking

My cat was a stray so I don't know her age - between 10 and 15, I've been told. She recently started hacking and retching and I thought she had fur balls so gave her fish oil and a pot of grass to chew on. But she got worse and stopped eating so I took her to the vet. They found two large swellings on her chest, took biopsies and were told she has large cell lymphoma. They gave her a shot of steroids. She perked up but then quantities of some liquid started issuing from an ear. What is really strange is that the swellings on her chest seem to have disappeared! Could they have been full of lymph that has drained out through her ear?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
It seems unlikely that the lymph nodes on her chest would be related to the fluid in her ear, and lymph fluid doesn't drain like that. She is at an age where she may start to have more problems, and it would be a good idea to have a recheck for her to see what is going on with her ear. She will need ongoing medication for the lymphoma, so a recheck is a good idea on many counts. I hope that Pudditat does well!

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Shyanne
tortishell
16 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Head Tilt, can’t see

Medication Used

Oral antibiotics and ear drops

My cat has used all of her medications for the ear infection she had. She is now still tilting her head and her one eye is still swelled shut the third eye lid won’t go down and she is walking into everything as if she can’t see what’s in front of her. Her ear recently started to discharge again but it’s a pinkish color like there is blood in it. What does that mean?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Shyanne should see your veterinarian for a recheck. She may have a resistant ear infection, or a growth of some kind that is causing all this problem in her ear. From your description, she is suffering from this problem, and your veterinarian will be able to determine more what is happening and what treatment options are available for her.

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Olaf
Siamese
2.5yrs
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Ear Odor
Ear Itching
Black discharge
Ear Crust

Medication Used

none

My male cat, who's about 3yrs old is having a black crusty discharge in only one eat. It's accompanied by a foul odor. I don't see him itching too much. Could this be mites? Should I treat it as such?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Mites generally have an appearance of coffee grounds in the ear, you should start treatment for this and see how you go; if you have any concerns you should visit your Veterinarian. Flea and tick products like Revolution (selamectin) offers protection against ear mites in cats and should be used in future as part of your prevention program. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://revolution4cats.com/

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Shadow
Tiger cat
13 Weeks
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Liquid coming out ear

Medication Used

none

My kitten is only 13 weeks old since I got him he never had problems this morning I woke up to his ear bring really red and looks like orange liquid so I cleaned his ear and there is brown liquid coming out what could it be could it be a ear infection

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Shadow could have an ear infection, or parasites. Since I can't see him, and those can be quite painful, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian to see what might be going on, and how best to treat him.

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Pampon
Maine Coon
10 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Right ear pain and discahrge

10 year old male cat, foul smelling white discharge with blood... when I clean his ear or if he really scratches it - it will drain onto his fur and dry to brown. No loss of appetite or balance.
Pls help, adapted him recently

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Cats can be affected by bacterial, fungal, parasitic infections, polyps and tumors. Since Pampon seems to be having a problem it would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can look at his ears, diagnose what might be going on, and give any appropriate therapy that he may need. I hope that all goes well for him!

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Multiple
American Shorthair
5 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Ear Discharge

I have multiple cats all but one have the dark brown earmites debris but the one has a chunky off white foul smelling substance in her ear. Is this also a sign of ear mites? Do I treat them all the same way?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Ear mites generally present with a black coffee ground appearance which may be smelly or not; if there is a white discharge, then another infection may be present which would need to be treated differently with ear cleaning and antibiotic ear drops. You should speak with your Veterinarian to confirm so that the best course of treatment can be taken for that one, for the other cats treat as per ear mites. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Eddie
tabby
10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Painful Ears

Hello, I have a 10 year old fixed male cat. Over the past few months he has been scratching his ears and shaking his head more and more as time goes by.

He has always loved getting ear massages ever since he was young, but in the past month or two he doesn't want me touching his ears. On the off chance he lets me massage them they make really loud and wet suction noises, obviously there has been buildup accumulating. At first I wouldn't hear any suction noises but they have been getting progressively louder and wetter over time.

I went to clean his ears out yesterday and he freaked out (he usually loves getting his ears cleaned, just lies in my lap and purrs), he tried backing out of and kicking my hands away. When I pulled the cotton ball I was using out of his ear I had to look at it twice.

At first I was surprised and confused because it looked like there was absolutely nothing on cotton ball. But when I took a closer look I saw that the cotton ball was actually soaked with creamy, white fluid, it was almost clear and had barely noticeable yellow tinge. It had no smell to it whatsoever either.

This weird substance was in both of his ears and just barely sticking a cotton ball in bothered him severely. He was very upset for a while, it hurt him, he wouldn't stop shaking his head and had his ears pinned down sideways to keep them relaxed.

I am a professional dog and cat groomer, I have been cleaning out pets ears for almost 8 years now and I have NEVER seen anything like this.

Can someone please help me and my baby boy out by telling me what is going on with him???

Please and thank you.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for contacting us about Eddie. As cats get older, they often produce more waxy debris. They can also get yeast infections, bacterial infections, and tumors in their ears. Since you only see the outside of their ears, it can be difficult to know what is going on in the remaining 75% that you can't see. It would be best to take him to a veterinarian and have them examine his ears, and look under the microscope at a sample of the discharge.

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Binx
Cat
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

My cat this morning shook his head after scratching it and clear water like liquid flew out. Im not sure if it was from his ears or what...
What could this be? How can i treat it?
Thank you

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Without knowing where the liquid came from, I can't comment on what might be going on, or how to treat it. If the problem continues, or you notice that Binx is scratching at his ears, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian.

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Bonnie
domestic short hair
8 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Some lethargy/ odd behavior
Odor from ears
Ears excessively oily inside

Medication Used

none

My 8yo female has seemed slightly off character the last two days and I noticed an odor from her ears. Not overwhelming but not good, and definitely not present before. No visible discharge but her ears appear very “oily.” Should I just clean and observe?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Cats can develop bacterial and fungal ear infections, or have a build up of waxy debris, as well as get parasites that affect their ears. These infections can quickly become a problem if not treated. It would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian - they can look at a swab under the microscope to see what is growing in there, and give her an appropriate medication or cleaner, depending on what they find. I hope that everything goes well with her!

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Arya
Feral
10 Weeks
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Ear Discharge
Ear Crust

My 10 week old kitten has been having ear discharge, mainly from one ear. It seems clear and dries crusty. She has been acting normal and her ears don't seem to be causing her any pain. At one point she shook her head and clear drops of liquid landed on me, the only place they seemed to have come from was her ear.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It sounds like Arya may have an ear infection and should be seen by a Veterinarian to confirm whether this is the case and to treat accordingly; kittens are prone to getting all sorts of infections due to their underdeveloped immune system. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Sam
domestic short hair
2 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Foul smell
brown discharge
Itching
Head Tilt

My cat has been struggling with this ear problem for a while now. He has foul smelling ears and brown discharge plus he tilts his head and itches. I’ve taken him to the vet and she prescribed Tresaderm which doesn’t seem to be working

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Tresaderm is a good broad spectrum medication for fungal, bacterial and parasitic infections of the ear. Since he didn't respond to the medication, it would be worth a recheck with your veteirnarian, as Sam may have another condition such as an ear polyp or a resistant infections, among others. Your veterinarian may need to do a deeper clean of the ear, or culture it for resistant infections. Without examining him, I can't comment on what might be going on, but a recheck would be the next step. i hope that Sam does well.

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maggie
Tuxedo cat
10 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

licking fur off

have a little female cat that's maybe 8 to 10 years old and she's always been skinny but for last couple years she's gotton a little skinner and started licking her fur off and.I've tried and keep flea stuff on her.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
There are a few possible issues which may be affecting Maggie which may include dietary deficiency, allergies, parasites, hormonal conditions among other causes; you should have your Veterinarian examine Maggie to be on the safe side so that an examination may be made to determine the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Ricky
mixed
13 yrs
Moderate condition
-1 found helpful
Moderate condition

My cat has had discharge from his ear for about a year. He has been to the vet 3 or 4 times now. They clean it out and put medicine in but it continues to discharge within 2 to 3 days and has a terrible odor. What else can be done to solve this problem?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Apart from medical therapy and regular cleaning, ear canal resection is another option available which would allow the ear to drain freely and hopefully prevent ear infections. You should speak with your Veterinarian about this procedure to see if Ricky at his age is a suitable candidate for this surgery. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/cat/treatment/lateral-ear-resection

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Boo
Boo
13 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Ear scratching , head shaking,brown
Ear scratching , head shaking,

My cat Boo is 13 years old he does not like crowd's or being took out of his home which makes it hard to take to vet...to much stress but he has had a sticky mucus in his ear causing the nasty crusty around the bottom outside.I clean daily with a sulferdine solution ear cleaner,used hydrogen peroxide , Tryed Banixx and treated for ear mites.When he shakes his head still fluid comes out. What to do next ?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Unfortunately, it sounds like Boo may have an infection that needs medication to treat, and he will need to be seen by a veterinarian to have that treatment. If there is a house call veterinarian in your area, they may be able to come to you to see what is going on with him and get treatment for him.

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Tim
domestic short hair
2 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Clear discharge

Tim has very large ears and the vet told us he will be prone to have more ear wax build up than usual. But his one ear occasionally smells bad and has a clear discharge that sometimes makes the fur at the bottom of his ear furthest from is eyes crusty. He doesn’t pay special attention to that ear over the other and doesn’t shake more than usual when the discharge is happening. I have regular over the counter ear cleaning drops but it only helps with removing some wax build up and not this regular discharge.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If Tim seems to be building up an abnormal ear discharge, it would be a good idea to have your veterinarian take a look at his ears, and the discharge, and determine if it is a bacterial or fungal infection, or a parasite, and discuss with you whether it is something that needs treatment, or if it is a normal discharge that you do not need to worry about. I hope that everything goes well for him!

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charlie
Cat
Moderate
Has Symptoms
Ear Wax
My cat does not like to go to the Vet. I was able to take him in about 6 months ago and all his vitals are find. he has this ear wax buildup that causes him to scratch uncontrollably. I clean them with all different stuff and always returns. Its not ear mites, so much be a yeast infection. Please let me know if I can buy something over the counter that will help him since taking him into a vet is nearly impossible. Hes almost 14 years old but I want to give him comfort.