Apart from the difference in frequency, cats and dogs are susceptible to practically the same types of infections of the external ear. For example, cat ear mites maybe a less common occurrence than dog ear mites, but when infested, they can lead to similar symptoms and develop into serious conditions in both animals if not attended to in time.
Minor Irritations - The first sign of discomfort in cats is scratching caused by an infestation of parasites, infection, injury or an allergic reaction. Some of the conditions are a direct cause of excessive scratching and itching when an initial sign of ear discomfort is ignored by cat owners.
Ear Mites - These are small external parasites that look like crabs. Ear mites in cats are easy to eliminate and this can be done simply by cleaning the ear regularly. However, in the absence of a timely intervention, they can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. In severe conditions, mites can move further to the inner ear and rupture the tympanic membrane (ear drum). This may lead to seizures and deafness.
Bacterial and Fungal Infections - These are secondary infections and often a direct result of ear mites and poor grooming by owners. Ear mites create an environment that promotes yeast and bacteria within the ear canal. Since cats naturally resist ear infections, by the time you take the cat to the veterinarian, the mites may have vanished. It’s important to make sure that there is no secondary infection remaining.
Polyps - Polyps are small vascular growths that usually occur in cat ears and can lead to symptoms similar to ear mites like scratching and irritation. These need to be removed surgically for fear that they may lead to permanent damage or the inability to walk straight.
Hematomas - These are one of the numerous secondary conditions caused by excessive scratching that lead to rupture of an external ear blood vessel. The vessel swells and fills with blood which, in extreme manifestations, can block the ear canal totally.
Chronic Conditions - All primary infections need to be attended to seriously. If left untreated, all can develop into severe and chronic infections. Chronic infections can potentially affect a cats’ immune system and lead to life threatening conditions.
Prognosis of ear infections in cats is extremely encouraging. With proper diagnosis and treatment, nearly all infections can be cured. Ear discomfort always has an underlying condition that causes it. If the underlying disease or infection is not identified properly in its early stages, it can prove to be detrimental to the overall health of the cat.
Prevention is the best remedy for keeping ear infections at bay. Home remedies for dog ear mites , like vinegar or mineral oil solutions, can play a pivotal role in eliminating primary infections. Regular grooming with extra care to cleaning cat ears can help in avoiding discomfort to your cat due to ear problems.