August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Ear infections aren't common in cats as they are in dogs, but can be very frustrating when they are present. Cats with ear problems usually have ear mites and might scratch their ears, have smelly ears, and/or shake their heads.

Signs that Your Cat Needs to See a Veterinarian

  • Excessive ear debris (black/brown or yellow)
  • Constant scratching at the ears(s) and/or shaking of the head
  • Backs of ear(s) are irritated or are missing hair
  • Bleeding from the ear
  • Ears smell bad
  • Swelling of the ear
  • Ear(s) are sore or painful
  • Frequently tilts head to side

What You Can Do in the Meantime

  • If your cat allows it, you can use a moistened cotton ball to gently wipe debris out of the ears.
  • If the backs of your cat's ears are irritated and missing hair, you can gently apply some over the counter triple antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin®.

Common Causes of Ear Problems

  • Ear mites
  • Ear infection (otitis externa)

Treatment of Ear Problems

  • Regular cleaning of the ears with an ear cleaner recommended by a veterinarian.
  • If your cat has ear mites or an infection, a medication may be prescribed.
  • If your cat has a severe ear infection, or if the backs of the ears are irritated and missing hair, oral antibiotics may be prescribed or an antibiotic injection may be given.
  • If your cat's ears are very sore, pain medication may be prescribed.

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