What is Inflammation of the Ear?
Your cat's ears not only help him hear, but aid in his balance and coordination. However, there are a variety of medical conditions that can affect the health of his ears. If your cat suddenly has trouble standing or walking he may suffer from a condition that causes inflammation in his ear canal. Certain conditions can also cause his outer ear to become swollen and inflamed, as well. If your cat has symptoms associated with ear inflammation, have him evaluated by his veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Symptoms of Inflammation of the Ear in Cats
Some of the most common symptoms seen in cats with ear inflammation include:
- Pain in the ears
- Shaking the head
- Ear scratching
- Swelling of the outer rim of the ear
- Scaly skin in the ear
- Tilting the head
- Foul odor
- Lack Of Coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Falling over to one side
- Drooping of the face
- Large amounts of foul smelling wax in the ear
Causes of Inflammation of the Ear in Cats
While there are many things that can cause pain, irritation, and swelling of your cat's ears some are more common than others. The following is a list of the most common causes of ear problems diagnosed by veterinarians:
Ear mites located in the external ear can cause swelling of the ear canal in cats. If mites are present, cats will scratch at their ears and shake their head, leading to or worsening inflammation.
Bacterial infections of the ears can be caused by a foreign body in your cat's ear or mites. Certain types of trauma can also lead to the development of infection.
Fungal yeast infections are also common in domestic cats. These infections may cause the ear canal to be swollen and pus may also be present. Fungal yeast infections can also cause a foul odor in your cat's ear.
This condition affects the inner ear, where balance and coordination are controlled. Vestibular syndrome can cause ear inflammation, but it can usually be resolved in just a few weeks with medication. Vestibular syndromes can be alarming when the symptoms suddenly appear. If your cat develops this condition, he may have trouble walking or even standing up without falling over.
Polyps, Cysts, or Tumors
Tumors, cysts, or polyps in your cat's ear may cause inflammation and a feeling of fullness or uncomfortable swelling. These growths are more common in older cats and can be benign or malignant, so should be investigated by your veterinarian for an evaluation and diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Inflammation of the Ear in Cats
Your veterinarian will begin to diagnose your cat's ear problem by asking you some questions regarding his health. It is important to include any information that may help your doctor such as how long symptoms have been present and if your cat has been diagnosed with any medical conditions by another doctor. After taking a medical history, your doctor will take your cat's vital signs and record them. He will examine your cat, checking his ears and reflexes. Most doctors draw blood and collect a urine sample to look for signs of infection in your cat. Diagnostic tests such as X-rays or an MRI may be performed to confirm a diagnosis. If your cat has a tumor or polyps in his ear, your doctor may do a biopsy for analysis.
Treatment of Inflammation of the Ear in Cats
Treatment for ear inflammation depends on the cause of the condition. Many ear infections can be treated with antibiotics. Ear washes may also be prescribed to keep the ears clean. Topical treatments may be ordered for cats with fungal yeast infections.
Ear mites can be treated with cleansing products for the ear and medications such as ivermectin. Cats diagnosed with tumors in the ear may need surgery to remove them. If your cat has a vestibular syndrome causing his symptoms, he may receive medication and IV fluids to stabilize him if necessary. This condition is often very difficult to treat.
Recovery of Inflammation of the Ear in Cats
Infections and ear mites are fairly easy conditions to treat in cats. Your cat should be feeling better just a few days after starting antibiotics. It is important to continue using a prescribed ear wash to keep the ears clean. Cats that have surgery to remove tumors will stay in the hospital for a few days. If your cat has a vestibular syndrome, your doctor may advise you to keep him on cage rest until his symptoms subside.
Your doctor will want to recheck your cat in a few weeks to be sure he is improving. Be sure to tell him if your cat has a change in his condition or his symptoms worsen.
Inflammation of the Ear Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Hi, my cat Hope is just over a year old and is an indoor cat. She has contact with indoor/outdoor cats. I noticed she couldn't stop scratching at her right ear and went to check it out and found a dark brown to black buildup around and inside of her ear canal. This is only in her right ear, when I checked her left ear it was clean and no discharge or buildup was apparent. The brownish black stuff is not flaky but more wax-like. I would just like to know if this sounds like mites or some kind of bacterial ear infection. Thank you!
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