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Senior Pet Wellness Blog

Common Ear Problems in Cats

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 6, 2017 10:00:00 AM / by Mary Nielsen

Common Ear Problems in Cats

Cats, as a whole, are pretty self sufficient, and exhibit very few health issues over their lifetime. It is one of the reasons why cats are prized as pets. They are easy to care for, have limited health drawbacks, and don't cost much to feed or care for.

One of the few worry areas for cats are their ears. In most cases, this is the only health issue that may develop during the entire life of a feline, and most likely as a cat owner, you've probably already dealt with some ear complications. Most every cat owner has.

Here are some of the signs and symptoms of what to watch for with some of the most common ear problems in cats.

Ear Mites

Probably the most common problem for any cat and cat owner are ear mites. Generally, ear mites are picked up from other infected cats or kittens, but mites may live up to 2 weeks on the ground. If your kitty just happens to roll around in a place where an ear mite may have fallen off another cat, there is a chance the mite may start an infestation without any type of cat-to-cat interaction.

  • What to Look For -- Ear mites are about the size of pin heads, and you may see these tiny little white dots moving around inside of your kitty's ear. Usually, you'll notice dark brown or reddish waxy gunk, which are ear mite feces, and no matter how often you clean the ear, it will always come back. The other major symptom is head shaking digging in its ear. If you notice this behavior, check for ear mite feces.
  • How to Treat -- A trip to the vet is always a good idea, and they will give you some ear mite medicine. Simply place a few drops in your kitty's ear daily, and in a couple of weeks, the ear mites will be gone. There are also over the counter ear mite remedies too, and as long as you follow directions, they will work well.


Yes, allergies cause ear problems too. This may sound strange, but allergic reactions to things in a cat, often shows up in and around their ears.

  • What to Look For -- Itching is one of the first things you'll notice, and hair loss may soon follow. If you check inside of your cat’s ear and there is no sign of ear mites, but they keep scratching the area, it may be an allergy of some sort.
  • How to Treat -- The first thing to do is to change their food type. Switch to an anti-gen diet, which can be supplied by your vet, and see what happens over the course of several weeks. Most allergies are food related, and if your cat stops scratching and losing hair on an anti-gen diet, the problem is solved.

Scratches and Bites

As you can see, a cat has ears that protrude out from their heads. In tight spaces, their ears can get easily scratched. Also, when cats get into a fight, one of the first things another cat will do is bite the ears.

  • What to Look For -- Bloody scratches and chewed on ears are easy to spot. If you see these signs, take action.
  • How to Treat -- Minor scratching can be dabbed with an iodine solution or a generic pet topical antibiotic. For deep gouges and bites, a trip to the vet is in order.

Ear Infections

Just like humans, cats can get ear infections too.

  • What to Look For -- Once again, scratching and head shaking are the initial signs. But when inspecting the inner ear, look for redness and inflammation. There may also be a discharge that will be very smelly.
  • How to Treat -- A vet will need to find out what type of infection it is, and administer the correct type of antibiotic.

There are other ear problems that may be found, like polyps and mange for example, but these 4 listed above are the ones to keep an eye out for whenever your kitty shows discomfort around the ear area.


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Topics: Health & Exercise, Senior Cats

Mary Nielsen

Written by Mary Nielsen

Mary Nielsen is a guest author on, founder of, and is a passionate cat lover, blogger, and part-time music teacher. She founded her blog to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable kittens and cats. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.