Cats Itchy Ears

Q&A: Itchy Ears

Q: My cat is scratching her ears raw? What do I do?

A: You really do need to take her to the vet. If she’s scratching that much, this isn’t going to clear up on its own. However, the solution is likely going to be fairly cheap (at least it is in the U.S. for most things that cause itchy ears in cats). And your poor kitty will get relief from what is clearly a very uncomfortable situation.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have moderate pain (like scratches) than a maddening itch, especially if the itch is somewhere I can’t get to (like your kitty’s inner ear). Itching is #2 on my list of most aggravating physical sensations (#1 is restless legs, arms, hips, shoulders, etc.).

Make sure to ask your vet about proper ear care for your cat.

Common causes of itchy ears in cats:

  • Parasites Ear mites are nasty critters that live off of dead skin cells and ear wax. They can spread to other kitties in the home, so it’s important to treat them as soon as possible. You’ll see a black buildup that looks like ground coffee in the cat’s ears. Other types of mites, fleas, and ticks are also common parasites that cause itchy ears.
  • Hematoma If there is a swollen, red bump in the cat’s ear, it may be a hematoma. A hematoma occurs when a blood vessel in the ear ruptures. This can not only be itchy, but it’s also painful. So, if your cat doesn’t want you touching his/her ear, this could be the cause. This can be caused by a number of things, but repeated infections and ear mites can make this more likely. This is a fairly easy thing for a vet to take care of, and if it’s treated soon enough, your cat may avoid having scar tissue.
  • Ear Infection If you notice that your cat’s ear canal looks red, swollen, and has discharge, then this is a likely culprit. Ear infections are as uncomfortable and painful for cats as they are for humans. Your vet will check to see if your cat’s infection is from bacteria or yeast, and will be able to prescribe medication to clear it up.
  • Allergies Whether your cat is allergic to you (yes, that can happen), your laundry detergent, or something else, this can cause the ears to get itchy. Allergy meds should help clear that up, as well as eliminating things one by one in your cat’s environment to try to pinpoint the issue.
  • Foreign Bodies Whether it’s a bit of feather or fluff, or something harder, foreign bodies in the ears can cause pain and irritation that will make your cat scratch its ear.
  • Aural Masses Polyps, tumors, and other things can give cats the same sensation as a foreign body lodged in the ear. It’s very important to get these checked out.

It’s very important that, no matter the cause, you should get your cat’s itchy ears checked out. Leaving it to see if it will clear up on its own could cause permanent damage to your cat’s hearing and health, and in some cases, it can lead to death. Don’t take chances. See your vet ASAP!

Good luck! I hope you can get her in soon.

One thought on “Q&A: Itchy Ears”

  1. Whenever you take your cat to the vet for itchy ears or any other problem, be sure to ask what medications will be used, and the potential side effects.

    My cat was given Tresaderm, and had a serious reaction: she was unable to walk without falling over, and one pupil was larger than the other. I rushed her back the next day, and she was given Antiseden, which produced yet another side effect. It was 3 weeks before she could walk normally, and the whole time she was not herself. I thought she was dying, as she laid in my arms day after day, unable to walk without falling over.

    They had sedated her to be able to go in deeper, to clean “debri”, but then they said she may have a ruptured ear drum, but then said “it wasn’t from anything WE did!” It turned out that it wasn’t a ruptured ear drum. I think that they could have been less aggressive in cleaning out “debri”.

    None of the vets I’ve taken my cats to, have ever told me the potential side effects, but it’s as important for us to know, as it is to know when we take medications.

    All vets are friendly, but that’s not a wise way to judge a vet. How do you evaluate a new vet? This is critical to the health of your pet. “Smiling and friendly” isn’t a good criteria. Remember the vet who shot the lion? He was always smiling….

    And vets who declaw cats are smiling because they make good money from this barbaric practice, and even make jokes while cutting off the first joint of the cat’s claws, while leaving them to suffer with no pain medication.

    Many vets do really care about animals, but the reality is that you represent dollar signs…..lots of them! Try to get a referral from your local “sanctuary”, not your local shelter. They have agreements with local vets to give adopted pets “free” exams, so it can be very appealing. You may want to take advantage of this, but in the meantime look for a trustworthy vet that takes care of sanctuary pets. These are pets who’ve been abused, abandoned, injured, and hopeless. Sanctuary vets perform what others might call miracles, but it’s just that they’re heart is in the right place, and many times they earn less than they would in private practice.

    Ask what medications will be used, and do a search on potential side effects, so you will be aware of what to watch for.

    I post important information on my FB page:
    https://www.facebook.com/CATAdvocate. Also check out the site CatCentric, where people communicate with each other about problems and solutions.

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