Cat ear infections are different in a lot of ways than dog ear infections, in that while external ear canal (or the outer ear know as otitis external) infection is not very common in cats, the middle or inner ear infection is.
These infections can be caused by several things such as allergies, especially food allergies, parasites, and micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast,.
However they can also be the result of plant awns, excessive moisture in the ears, hereditary immune conditions, and tumors.
However, again very much different than dogs, cat ear infections are primarily caused by ear mites.
The symptoms of these infections will be an almost continual scratching or rubbing of the ear as well as redness and or swelling of the ear canal.
You may also see shaking of yours pets head as they are trying to get the infection out as well as and pain around the ears.
In advanced stages of cat ear infections, there will also be a yellow or black discharge in the ears and your cat may have behavioral changes such as irritability and even depression.
There will also be an unpleasant odor coming from your cat’s ears as the infection increases, and this raises the risk of middle or inner ear infections.
These sections of the ears are separated from the external ear by the ear drum.
You cannot see these portions of the ear visibly, unless the ear drum has become ruptured. If this happens, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
These two portions of the ear are what coordinate the control mechanisms and the hearing functions of your feline.
If left untreated, it could cause permanent damage and deafness in your feline companion.
Most causes of infection in the middle and inner ears are a result of extenuating circumstances involving an original infection of the external ear.
If caught in the early stages, cat ear infections involving the middle and inner ear can be treated very effectively.
Again, these infections almost always are caused by ear mites.
The symptoms that you can watch for and immediately identify as an ear mite infection would be a black discharge coming from your cat’s ear.
If you look for this discharge closely it is very easy to spot. Ear Mites are very tiny organisms that are very infectious.
They will closely resemble small ticks, and are very difficult to spot with the human eye as they are so small.
They will appear as a white dot, when you can spot them.
Their infections will leave a trail of a dry black discharge that looks like small coffee grinds, but it is actually a mixture of blood, ear wax, bio-chemicals, and the ear mites themselves.
Ear mites will live on the surfaces of your cat’s ear canal skin, although they occasionally go to the head or the face of the cat.
They will lay eggs which are hatched in about four days. Once hatched, they feed on your cats ear wax and skin oils.
These ear mites can live up to two months and it that time frame can cause very serious infection to your pet’s ears.
Ear mites also resemble head lice, in that they are very easily transmitted from another animal that your cat has been around, most likely another cat
Cat ear infections can also be caused by allergies, and in most cases, the actual ear infection may be a sign that indeed your cat does have allergies.
Yeast and other bacteria may be the cause, but it is not to the same degree the cause as it is in dog ear infections.
Parasites, especially in kittens, may also be the cause of cat ear infections
The parasite, most likely an ear mite, causing the kittens to so violently scratch at their own ears, that it produces a trauma effect, which adds to the infection.
Much like dogs, cats can also get this infection from stick-tights, known as plant awns. These are small twigs that stick to your cat’s fur and work its way into the ears.
If your cat or kitten plays outside a lot, especially in wooded areas, checks their ears for this small intruders.
The final potential cause of these infections may be from your cats hereditary. Various hereditary diseases especially melanomas and tumors can cause cat ear infections.
Diagnosis of the actual cause of the infection is best left to your professional Veterinarian, as there are so many potential causes.
Swabs within the ear can be taken very easily and the true cause can be determined. In cleaning your cat’s ears, it is important to remember that their ears are more L-shaped than ours.
Because most of the debris, the infections, or the parasites will start to form in the corner of the “L” and this is the first place you should clean.
Cleaning your cat’s ears with ear cleaners that are slightly acidic but not to the point that they sting or hurt your cats ears is the most recommended.
Massaging the basis of the ears for short periods to release any caught debris is also recommended. The key to preventing these infections is keeping your cats ears clean.
There are natural antiseptics that will also help in keeping your cats ears clean, especially from ear mites. Green tea, (make sure it is cool, not hot), applied to the ears will help the cleaning process.
Also, 3-5 drops of a mineral oil, olive oil, or almond oil will also help kill the ear mites, as it actually starves them. Garlic mixed into the oil will give it even more strength.
Vitamin C supplements are effective in helping to reduce the inflammation that these infections, especially those of ear mites, can cause.
There are several very good over the counter traditional and natural products that can assist in keeping your feline companion free of ear infections.