Why are my cat’s ears so itchy?

mixcat_jpg_jpgThere are several reasons that cats can have itchy ears states Amanda L. Maus, DVM, at Catalina Pet Hospital in Tucson, Arizona.  The most common reason that people think of when their cat is shaking its head or scratching its ears is that they have ear mites.  Although ear mites are common, other types of bacterial or yeast infections, as well as fleas may be to blame.   That is why it is important for your cat to be seen by a veterinarian to help distinguish the type of infection.

Ear mites are a type of parasite that are transmitted directly between cats and dogs so all cats in the household must be treated at the same time.  Besides the intense itching they cause, they also produce a characteristic black coffee ground type of discharge in the ears.  This discharge can be examined by your veterinarian under the microscope in order to visualize the mites and confirm diagnosis.  Most over the counter medication only kills the adult mites, not the eggs, which means a daily treatment for 3 weeks that can be difficult.  Your veterinarian has injectable as well as topical medications that only need performed one or two times.

Bacterial and yeast ear infections typically come from the environment or are related to allergies.  The cat may have excessive brown or yellowish wax as well as red ears.  This discharge can be examined by your veterinarian under the microscope in order to visualize the bacteria or yeast.  Prescription injectable, topical, or oral medications can be used for at least 1 week to help remedy the infection.

Certain tiny fleas called bird fleas or sticktight fleas can be found attached around cat ears and eyes.  Cats can get these fleas from interacting with birds outside or dogs get them outside and bring them inside to the cat. Besides using tweezers to individually remove the fleas, the fleas can be killed with topical medication used to killed normal fleas.

No fleas, please!

Fleas are not only a nuisance, but can also carry various disease and they are extremely prevalent in warm, humid environments cautions Dr. Rebecca Marr, DVM, at Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, VA.

Many people believe that if they don’t see any fleas on their pet, then they don’t need to use a flea preventative; however, fleas are stealthy little parasites that have no trouble alluding detection by us while feasting on our poor companions. Their bite may only last a second but can leave a pet with a very strong itching sensation similar to when we get a bee sting. While your pet may have only been bitten once or twice by fleas, it could cause him to itch for hours afterwards depending on how sensitive he or she is to the bite. One female flea may lay thousands of eggs in the environment, leading to a severe infestation that may take months to eliminate from the home. You only see visible evidence of fleas on the pet or around the house if there are already too many of them!

Being blood sucking parasites, fleas have the ability to spread bacterial diseases to animals and humans in the household. They also carry tapeworms which the dog/cat ingests and becomes infected with. The best way to prevent exposure to diseases and tapeworms spread by fleas is to use monthly flea preventative on all of the animals in your household. Currently, there are many very safe and efficacious products flooding the market; everything from an oral pill to topical spot-ons. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss the best option to protect you, your home, and your pet(s).

Submitted by:
Rebecca Marr, DVM
Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital
587 S Birdneck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 428-4344

Flea and Tick Control

Like most pet owners, you probably enjoy spending quality time with your pets both indoors and out. Don’t leave them at risk for any unwelcome visits from pesky parasites like fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks can be very damaging to the human-animal bond, particularly when flea invasion gets out of control or when ticks hitch a ride with your pet. Not only can these unfriendly parasites make your pets extremely uncomfortable, they can pose grave health risks.

Since fleas can survive a cold winter by feeding on unprotected pets and ticks are active whenever it is warm enough outside for them to crawl about their surroundings, preventive measures should be taken year round. By undergoing measures to inhibit these outbreaks, the diseases these parasites transmit to pets and people can also be mitigated or prevented.

There are many safe and effective flea and tick control products available, and your veterinary team should be able to help you choose the correct preventive regimen based on your pets risk factors and health status. Once a year, it is important to discuss with your veterinarian which external pest control products are ideal for your household, based upon the everyday life of your pet.