Hello! Nigel, here. It is once again time for me to answer your most pressing questions about your kitty’s health. A Ms. Diane Costa writes…”Nigel…Why do my cats keep getting so many ear infections? I am getting so frustrated.” Please, Diane, try not to be overwhelmed. I am here to help, and shall tell you what tends to be the sources of ear infections in cats.
Although not as common a problem for cats as it is for dogs, ear infections can be quite off-putting. You may notice your cat has an ear infection because they frequently shake their head, scratch at their ear or they have noticeable discharge at the ear opening. When you see these symptoms it is important not to put any home remedies into the ear, but rather to make an appointment with your veterinarian. The veterinarian can do some tests that can help her to determine what may be causing the problem.
One of the most common reasons that cats get ear infections is because of overgrowth of yeast. Bacteria can also do this, but that is a less common cause. Ear mites such as Otodectes and Demodex can also cause chronic ear itchiness. If your vet does not do a swab test to look for these mites, and simply treats with cleaner or an ointment, they may miss the actual cause. So, Diane, if your vet has not done cytology testing, this is something that you should request the next time your cats have this problem. The reason to find the underlying cause, is that not all ear “medications” or “treatments” are going to cure all causes. If your kitty is suffering from Demodex mites, most drops available are not going to do the trick.
Another common reason that a cat will have recurrent ear infections is that they have allergies. This is also referred to as atopic dermatitis. While humans tend to get horrible hay fever with sneezing and a runny nose and water eyes, we cats more commonly suffer from itchiness when the pollen count is climbing. For some cats, only their ears are itchy. Others tend to be itchy over their entire bodies and will pull out their hair while overgrooming. In either case, your vet can prescribe an ear drop or oral medication(or sometimes both) to combat this problem. It is not a cause that can be “cured” but rather one that is managed with appropriate treatments when symptoms flare.
For a few unfortunates, the chronic ear irritation can be due to a polyp or tumor growing inside of the ear canal. This is something your vet can see by doing a deep examination of the ear canal and throat. Occasionally, these pesky growths can only be seen on radiographs or CT. In order to get a full view, the vet will usually find it necessary to give your cat some sedation. Don’t worry….your cat will actually find this rather enjoyable. :-). On a positive note, most polyps and tumors can be successfully removed.
Well, Diane, I hope that this answers your question. Dr. Jeff and Dr. Stephanie are available to help if you need your kitties’ ears attended to!
This is Nigel, signing off. Meow!