Cats have an amazingly sharp sense of hearing. They can hear sounds about three times better than we humans can. Your little kitty purring in your lap has the instincts and capabilities of a wild cat – she can detect the minutest movements of a burrowing mole, know when a predator is approaching, or hear when a bird is cheeping across the street.
So of course you want your cat’s ears to be perfect and healthy. When you notice some brown, waxy buildup in her ears, you naturally ask: “Is this normal, or is it the sign of a problem?”
Ear wax is also called cerumen. Just like with your own ears, it’s natural for a little bit to build up over time. A normal inner ear and ear canal should be light pink in color. A small amount of light/medium brown ear wax is fine.
When Cat Ear Wax Is Not Normal
Check your cat’s ears regularly. If you notice any of the following, there may be a problem you need to address:
- Excess ear wax
- Discharge that looks like coffee grounds
- Red and/or swollen ears
- Shaking the head
- Scratching the ears, head and neck
- Foul odor
- Head tilting
- Decreased appetite
- Drooping on one side of the face
- Squinting or abnormal eye movements
- Difficulty walking
- Trouble hearing
Ear Wax vs. Cat Ear Mites
Sometimes something that looks like a brown wax buildup in your cat’s ear can signal a bigger issue – ear mites, the most common cause of cat ear problems.
Ear mites are tiny parasites that usually require a microscope to see. They feed off the wax in your cat’s ear and actually stimulate the wax-producing glands inside the ear. They are more typically seen in kittens and puppies due to their weaker and developing immune systems. While the mites may be tiny, their presence can cause inflammation and irritation, and even lead to more severe ear infections (see below).
The discharge looks like black, dry coffee grounds and consists of ear wax, blood and mites.
To be sure of your diagnosis of ear mites, take your cat to the vet for an examination. The vet may thoroughly clean your cat’s ears and prescribe medications that will eliminate the ear mites.
In addition to being disgusting, ear mites are also highly contagious for your other pets. So you’ll need to get all your animals checked and treated. Plus you’ll have to clean your cat’s environment, including washing pet bedding in hot water with bleach and drying it in a hot dryer, as well as vacuuming all common areas thoroughly and discarding the vacuum bags, etc.
When Excess Ear Wax Signals An Ear Infection
If you’re noticing surplus ear wax, it may be caused by a bacterial or fungal (yeast) infection. The most common infection is otitis externa, an infection of the outer ear canal, and is usually caused by the inflammation and irritation engendered by ear mites. If you don’t treat the otitis externa, the infection may move to the middle and inner ears – and then you can get into problems with damage to the ear drum, sometimes resulting in deafness.
Ear infections are highly irritating and even extremely painful for your cat. An infection due to a yeast build-up has a nasty smell, is especially itchy and often accompanied by a brownish/grey greasy discharge.
The symptoms of an ear infection can look very similar to the symptoms for ear mites. That’s why you should see a vet for the proper diagnosis and treatment, which might include antibiotics, topical medications and surgery.
Treating Your Cat’s Ear Problems
If your cat shows signs of an ear infection, ear mites, or just excess wax buildup, take him/her to a vet for a diagnosis, especially if you notice redness, swelling and a bad smell. The vet can take a swab of the ear canal, diagnose the problem and prescribe the proper treatment. For a bacterial ear infection, the vet may prescribe an antibiotic. Antibiotics are not effective for fungal infections. If she has ear mites, the vet may prescribe an easy-to-administer, anti-parasitic formulation to get rid of them swiftly.
Banixx Pet Care is frequently used as a home remedy to soothe and heal the infection and irritation caused by the biting mites. If your cat has a yeast/fungal infection, Banixx is a powerful infection fighter that can be used to quickly combat the yeast/fungus infection and as a regular ear cleaner to prevent recurrence.
Banixx Pet Care spray can be used in conjunction with any formulation prescribed by your veterinarian.
Simply spray Banixx onto the cotton ball until moistened (not dripping), and gently apply 2-3 times daily to the affected ear(s). Banixx works on contact, but soak-time is important. The inside of the ear must be well moistened with Banixx for optimal results. Be sure to gently massage Banixx into your cat’s ear. Results should be seen in a couple of days. And never stick anything in the ears, like cotton swabs, to clean them!
In the meantime, you can learn more about how to keep your pointy-eared buddy happy and healthy through our cat blog or cat page! We hope you found this article helpful and if your cat ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or ringworm, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind.