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.

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