Otitis externa or inflammation of the external ear (including auricle and ear canal) is more common in dogs than cats. Persian cats and kittens however are more prone to ear infections than other cat breeds or older cats.
The main symptoms of feline ear infections include:
- Shaking head from side to side as the cat tries to push out the debris or fluid that accumulate in the ears
- Excessive scratching of ears
- Red and inflamed ears with an offensive odor
- A black or yellowish discharge.
Ear mites are the most common cause of infection in a cat’s ears and lead to symptoms similar to ear infections. The average lifecycle of cat ear mites from egg to adult is roughly three weeks. In severe infestations, mites create an environment within the ear canal that results in secondary infection. Most of the time, the mites have gone by the time you decide to consult a veterinarian, but a significant amount of infection remains. A healthy cat is very resistant to ear mites, but kittens are more prone to get infected. Dog ear mites, on the other hand, can be a little bit more problematic.
Ear infection in cats can be caused due to several bacteria and fungus such as yeast. Sometimes it is a foreign body or a tumor in the ear canal that causes an infection. Since ear infections in cats are uncommon, if your cat shows symptoms of an ear infection it is necessary to consult a veterinarian. The cause of the ear infection in your cat may actually be related to a weak immune system.
The prognosis of ear infections in cats is good, but if an underlying condition is left untreated it may result in a chronic feline ear infection. Presence of any of the two types of viruses - feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus can complicate the process of treatment to a great extent. These viruses suppress the immune system and have a significant impact on the overall health of a cat. Cats that have been diagnosed for diabetes are more susceptible to recurring ear infections. These conditions can be identified with the aid of typical blood tests.
Chronic ear infections can potentially lead to a decision to close the ear canal completely. Medications can reduce the size of the swollen tissue in some cats, but ultimately the cat may require surgical or invasive treatment. Regular and efficient ear cleaning while grooming can prevent secondary infection from ear mites. There are also home remedies for dog ear mites that are equally effective for cats, which you can use while grooming your cat. However, if your cat shows symptoms of an ear infection over a prolonged period, it is advisable to consult a veterinarian rather than letting the condition aggravate.