Your poor kitty is incessantly scratching at his ears. The little guy may even scratch to the point of giving himself a gash around his ears because of a prolonged itch. If you can determine what is causing the itching, you'll be able to give him some relief.
Proper Ear Care
To avoid problems in the first place, keep your kitty's ears clean. Your vet can recommend a cleaning solution formulated for kitty ears. Use a gauze pad to gently wipe the inside of his ears. Never use cotton balls, because they could leave bits of cotton in his ears. Your vet can show you how to safely keep Kitty's ears squeaky clean. This will help prevent excess ear wax buildup, which can cause itchy ears. It's also a good idea to take a peek in your furry pal's ears once in a while just to make sure they don't look inflamed or gunky.
If you notice that Kitty's ear canal looks red and swollen and has discharge, and he's scratching away, he likely has an ear infection. Ear infections are as uncomfortable and painful for Kitty as they are for anyone else. They're caused by a buildup of bacteria or yeast in the ear, and your vet will be able to determine which it is. He'll prescribe either an antibiotic or an anti-fungal medication, depending on the culprit. Be sure to follow the dosing instructions exactly to completely kill the infection. If Kitty keeps getting ear infections, try trimming the hair in his ears to prevent moisture buildup. You can also try cleaning his ears with tea tree oil, marigold or rosemary to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation, but check with your veterinarian first.
If you notice a swollen, red bump in Kitty's ears, it may be a hematoma, and it may be what's causing the itch. A hematoma occurs when blood vessels in the ear rupture. This is not only itchy, but it's painful, so Kitty won't be happy if you try touching his ear. He's more at risk for a hematoma if he has frequent ear infections or ear mites.The best treatment is to have your vet drain the fluid from the hematoma. If it's treated soon enough, Kitty can avoid having scar tissue.
Ear mites are tiny bugs that take up residence deep inside Kitty's ear canal. They make a feast out of his 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 a bit like ground coffee in Kitty's ears. He'll also be scratching those ears like crazy. Your vet will want to swab his ears to find the tiny, white bugs. An ear drop containing a pesticide will kill the mites. You'll have to apply the drops every day for about two weeks, making sure to clean Kitty's ears first. Kitty will not enjoy this process and may give you some trouble, so use treats to make the session seem more pleasant for him. If you're nervous about using a pesticide, you can try using warm olive oil and vitamin E. The olive oil with smother the mites and kill them.
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images