Itchy ears in cats may be caused by ear mites, an infection or a more serious condition, such as a tumour or one of the viruses that suppress the immune system. Treatment is usually successful, unless there is a serious underlying condition.
Ear mites are the most common cause of ear itching in felines, but aural itching also can be a symptom of a yeast or bacterial infection as well as a tumour or a foreign body lodged in the ear canal. The treatments for these conditions are different, so correct diagnosis is important.
Ear Mite Symptoms
The appearance of a dry, dark discharge resembling coffee grounds inside a cat's ear canal may indicate the animal has ear mites. In more severe cases, the cat may drag its head along the ground or there may be an offensive odour.
Symptoms of an Ear Infection
A cat with an ear infection may scratch or shake its head in an attempt to dislodge the fluid building up inside the ears. There also may be redness, inflammation or an offensive odour in the ears.
Treatment will depend on the condition causing the itching. Antibiotics, ear mite medications, dislodging a foreign object and surgery are options.
If there is no obvious cause behind the itching, there may be an underlying condition that is suppressing the cat's immune system, such as feline leukaemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus.
Feline ear infections usually respond well to treatment unless there is an underlying cause, such as an immune suppressing virus or diabetes, which can cause recurring infections.
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