Common Cat Ear Problems

Lean in close to your cat. Your nose will revolt if an infection or mites are present.
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Those pointy ears your cat twitches when she's upset with you for not petting her can harbor bacteria and parasites that cause extreme irritation and itching. Giving into the scratching can cause a ruptured blood vessel. These nasty, albeit fairly common, ear conditions aren't too troublesome to rid.

Ear Infection

If your kitty's perfectly healthy, her immune system should guard against most types of invading bacteria and yeast. If though she suffered an injury to her ear, ripped it open by scratching it or is suffering from allergies, all bets are off. The early stages of an ear infection will have your feline constantly scratching her ear and rubbing it against objects. The affected ear will twitch and sometimes droop to one side.

As the infection worsens, so too does the pain. She may yowl if you touch it, swat away your hand or even try to bite you. You might see a mix of yellow and black discharge in the ear, especially with a yeast infection, the ear will also appear inflamed, and the smell may have you pinching your nose.

Ear Mites

The wax and oil in your kitty's ears just happen to be the food of choice for ear mites. The little parasites cause extreme itching. You'll probably notice a foul smell in your kitty's ears, black discharge, especially around the ear canal, and lots of scratching and head rubbing. If left alone, the mites will likely cause an infection. In fact, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes that the tiny invaders are responsible for around 50 percent of feline ear infections.


Maybe your kitty is dealing with an extremely annoying piece of dirt that lodged into her ear. The scratching and head shaking can rupture a blood vessel within the ear, normally around the tip. Bood collects beneath the ear tissue and leads to a puffy appearance at the affected area. The condition is known as an ear hematoma, or aural hematoma. The swelling feels soft to the touch, may feel warm and is painful and uncomfortable. It can harden over time. Your kitty's ear will usually hang to one side because of the swelling.


If your kitty doesn't stop messing with her ears after 48 hours or so, make a vet appointment. The doc will inspect her ears and swab them to see what's plaguing her. Infections call for a dose of antibiotics, while ear mites require a topical medication that you may be able to purchase over the counter.

A hematoma is a bit more complicated in that it sometimes requires surgery to allow the blood to drain out. Since something caused the hematoma, your vet will need to determine the culprit, unless it happened to be something stuck in your kitty's ear and has since fallen out. If other symptoms are present with your kitty's ear issue, your vet may want to perform further tests to rule out serious medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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