Everything you need to know about otitis in cats

White cat

Otitis in cats is a very common disease, but the truth is that it is often difficult to know what happens to our furry since he is an expert in hiding the pain and discomfort that it can generate.

Therefore, knowing your symptoms will help us to better perceive what is happening to you and what measures we should take from now on so that your health improves.

What is otitis?

Cat in bed

Otitis is the inflammation of the epithelium, which lines the ear canal and the pinna. It appears especially in cats that have low defenses, either through the contagion of ear mites or by direct contact with an infested area or animal. Anyway, you also have to know if the animal suffers a trauma or an infection in that area could end with this disease.

There are three types of otitis:

  • External otitis: it is the most common and the easiest to treat. It affects the auditory canal, from the pinna to the eardrum.
  • otitis media: usually occurs when external otitis has not been well treated. The auricle will be severely affected, and the eardrum will have become inflamed or even ruptured.
  • Internal otitis: it is the inflammation of the inner ear and it generally occurs when the cat has suffered a trauma or because it has had poorly healed otitis externa or media.

What are the causes?

There are many causes of otitis in cats. Let's see which are the most common:

  • Ectoparasites: like the mite of the Otodectes cynotis species, which lodges in the ears, head and neck.
  • Bacteria and fungi: these are opportunistic microorganisms that take advantage of situations such as excess humidity, the presence of foreign bodies, allergies, trauma, or irritations to infest the cat's ears.
  • Strange bodies: like spikes for example. The animal will try to remove this foreign body without success normally, causing otitis. The veterinarian must remove it with the appropriate tools.
  • Trauma: if you have suffered an accident in which the ear area has been affected, otitis can occur.
  • Tumors: If the cat is older and usually has otitis problems, it is probably due to a tumor.
  • Immune diseases: Because these diseases weaken the immune system, opportunistic microorganisms take advantage of the occasion to infest the cat's ears.
  • Nasopharyngeal polyps: these are normal proliferations that are detected in the middle ear, in the auditory canal and in the nasopharyngeal mucosa.
  • Other causes: problems such as scabies or other types of diseases, such as metabolic or endocrine, can cause otitis.

What are the symptoms?

If your cat scratches his ear, he may have otitis

Symptoms of Otitis in Cats are the following:

  • Pain in the area
  • Head shaking
  • Head tilt
  • Redness and swelling of the ear area
  • Itching that can range from moderate to severe
  • Hearing loss
  • Bad smell in the ears
  • Presence of mites in the ears
  • Hair loss in affected areas due to excessive scratching
  • Irritation and oozing from the affected area

How is it treated?

The treatment of otitis in cats will depend a lot on the cause. For this reason, The first thing we have to do is take him to the vet to examine him and tell us what to do.. Never - I insist, never - should you give the furry a medicine without first consulting a professional.

Thus, your procedure will be:

  • Strange bodies: if the cat has a foreign body, it will be removed with suitable tools and then at home we will treat it with otic medications as you have told us.
  • Bacteria: it will be cleaned with water or physiological saline and then a specific antibacterial eye drops will be recommended.
  • Mushrooms: if you have fungus, he will prescribe the right fungicide product.
  • Ectoparasites: he will recommend an antiparasitic (such as a pipette) and a specific acaricidal eye drops. In addition, we will have to give him anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation and to relieve pain.

In severe cases the professional will perform a surgical treatment.

Should you wear an Elizabethan collar?

Surely yes. From my own experience I know that the cat HATES having to wear an Elizabethan collar, but it is very important to wear it if the vet has advised us as this will not scratch the ear and it can heal much better. Products like Feliway (you can buy it here) and spending as much time with him as possible will help you feel somewhat more comfortable.

Can otitis in cats be prevented?

Take your cat to the vet whenever he needs it

Not quite, but we can do several things:

  • Take the cat to the vet once a year to get it checked.
  • Clean the ears with a sterile gauze moistened with saline solution, removing dirt only from the outer ear, that is, from the pinna. Sticks should not be used as they could break the eardrum.
  • Do not bathe the cat. You do not need it (except if it is very old and / or has become very dirty). If it is done, we have to remember to remove the water that has accumulated inside the ears with a few cottons smeared in a little petroleum jelly. To remove the petroleum jelly residues we will use a sterile gauze wrapped around a finger.

I hope it has been useful to you 🙂.

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