How to Treat Cat Ear Infections – Updated October 2022

December 9, 2022
cat ear

If your cat is frequently shaking her head, it may be a sign of an ear infection.

There’s really nothing cuter than when your feline friend comes and nuzzles her head against you. 

However, what happens if you notice that Whiskers just… won’t stop nuzzling?  Or, what if they shake their head a lot afterwards? Are they just being weird, or are they showing symptoms of an ear infection in cats?

If so, what are you supposed to do to treat cat ear infections anyway? Do they even make medication for cat ear infections available over the counter? 

Well, we’ll cover all that and more below in this short blog! 

Quick facts about cat ear infections

  • Ear infections in cats are not a common diagnosis, but they can quickly degrade your cat’s quality of life if they’re unlucky enough to get one
  • Some of the symptoms of cat ear infections include an odor coming from the ear, redness around the ears, and discharge coming from the ears
  • Most cat ear infection treatments involve the use of a potent, medicated, antifungal and antibacterial topical solution, like Banixx 

How common are ear infections in cats?

ear infections in cats

Symptoms of ear infections for cats depends on the of severity the infection.

Ear infections are not common diagnoses in cats. In fact, cat ear infections are much less common than dog ear infections, with cat ear infections constituting only 5% of feline vet visits. 

The pathology of cat ear infections backs up this claim. In a retrospective review of CT scans of 310 cats’ skulls, only 101 of them were found to have ear infections. Of those affected, only 26 had been imaged due to complaints that suggested ear infections as a possible problem. Instead, ear infections in the remaining 85 were either incidentally found or were expected due to other chronic illnesses. 

Taken together, these findings suggest that, while commonly occurring, ear infections in cats are not a primary concern for veterinary staff. 

What are the symptoms of ear infections in cats?

The exact symptoms of ear infections for cats depends on how severe the infection is. If it’s mostly the middle ear that’s affected, the symptoms of an ear infection in cats could include:

  • Odor coming from the ears
  • Redness and/or swelling of the skin around the ears
  • Increased discharge coming from the ears
  • Scaly skin in and around the ear
a cat licking her lips

A symptom of a severe ear infection is a change in appetite.

However, if the inner ear is affected and the infection has progressed, symptoms of severe ear infections in cats can include:

  • Overproduction of earwax
  • Progressively worsening deafness and loss of balance
  • Changing appetite and excessive lethargy
  • Head tilting and/or rapid eye movements

If you notice your cat is suffering from any of the symptoms of severe ear infections, please take them to a veterinarian as soon as you can for further evaluation. 

What causes ear infections in cats?

Ear infections in cats are the result of repeated and unresolved inflammation of the cells lining their external ear canal. If left untreated, this inflammation can evolve into an infection that eventually spreads deeper into the ear’s inner structures. 

Some simple causes of cat ear inflammation include:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Foreign objects being lodged in the ear
  • Some bacteria and yeast, like Malassezia, that are present in healthy ears can cause inflammation if the climate allows them to overproduce and grow out of control. 

However, the most common cause of ear infections in cats are ear mites: tiny, microscopic critters which chew up, damage & irritate the interior of cats’ ears and leave waste which inflames the surface of the ear. 

How ear mites cause ear infections in cats

cat ear mite

Ear mites cause ear infections in cats by chewing on their ear tissue and laying waste in the wounds.

Ear mites cause ear infections in cats by chewing on their ear tissue and laying waste in the wounds. A tell-tale sign that an ear mite infestation is causing a cat ear infection is the presence of black discharge in the ear. Some ear mite infestations may also cause your cat to excessively scratch their ear or shake their head. 

Luckily, ear mite infections generally only occur in kittens and outdoor cats. In fact, most indoor cats only have to worry about ear mites if an already-infected kitten comes into the household. However, if you suspect your cat is suffering from an ear mite infection, do not hesitate to get them to the veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help rid your cat’s ears of the mites in short order with relatively small expense.  This will curb any potential infection that may be brewing beneath the surface. 

Are some cats more likely than others to develop ear infections?

Unfortunately, some cats are more likely to develop ear infections than others,. Cats who have compromised immune systems, intense allergies, or diabetes are most predisposed to ear infections. Additionally, certain breeds with smaller outer ears like Persians or Himalayans are more prone to ear infections. 

How are cat ear infections diagnosed?

veterinarian looking at cat ear infection

Be ready! Your vet will want to take a look at your cat’s ears with an otoscope.

Ask yourself this seriously: have you ever met a cat who enjoys going to the vet? Neither have we. That being said, it’s good to brace yourself and your cat for your visit to the vet. 

Once at the vet, your provider will want a detailed account of your cat’s medical history to get an understanding of their current health. Then, they will likely want to proceed with a physical exam. 

After the physical exam, your veterinarian will want to take a more detailed look at your cat’s ears with an otoscope. This will allow your vet to identify potential foreign objects, polyps, debris, or parasites that may cause your cat’s ear infection. Some cats who are particularly squirmy may require sedation or anesthesia to allow for a proper, thorough examination. 

Your veterinarian will likely also want to swab the inside of your cat’s ears with a cotton-tipped applicator. This will allow them to quickly determine whether or not bacteria, yeast, or mites are present and causing an infection. Cats with long-term, obstructive inflammation, or whose infection has spread to their middle or inner ear, may also require x-rays or CT scans to better determine next steps.

Once your veterinarian has concluded their examinations, they will proceed with prescribing a pain management and treatment plan. 

How to treat ear infections in cats

cat ringworm

Banixx is great to use as a frequent ear wash for your kitty so that infection never gets a strong hold on kitty’s ear.

The course of treatment for cat ear infections is dependent on the cause of infection. If ear mites are suspected to be the culprit of your cat’s ear infections, your veterinarian will likely prescribe anti-parasitic ointment to rid your cat’s ears of the mites. If a foreign object is lodged in the cat’s ears, your cat will need to be sedated and the object will be removed. 

However, most cat ear infections are treated with a topical solution of antibiotics, antifungals, and anti-inflammatory steroids. These medications coat the cats’ external ear canals with a thin film that makes the environment inhospitable to infectious agents. Your vet will likely clip fur around your cat’s ear drum to ensure discharge and earwax doesn’t deactivate the solution. In cases of long-term inflammation and infection, oral or injectable antibiotics may also be prescribed. 

Use Banixx to treat cat’s ears

However, we think that the best way to treat cat ear infections is with Banixx! Banixx is a powerful, over-the-counter cat ear cleaner that’s clinically proven to treat cat ear infections without any stinging or odor. Best of all, it provides instant relief for cat ear infections without relying on pesky steroids or antibiotics, meaning it’s ideal for use in conjunction with prescribed medications. 

To treat cat ear infections at home with Banixx, simply spray some Banixx onto a cotton ball. Gently apply 2 – 3 times per day on the affected ear.  Banixx is also great to use as a frequent ear wash for your kitty so that infection never gets a strong hold on kitty’s ear.  Consider the use of homemade ear wipes for this procedure.  Banixx’s low pH solution will create a hostile environment for bacteria and fungus, thus eliminating the bacteria/fungus and enabling your cat’s immune system to fight the infection easily. And, with a shelf life of three years, Banixx is a breeze to store at room temperature without fear of spoilage.  

To us, these factors make Banixx the purr-fect home treatment for cat ear infections, and we know you’ll agree with us, too. 

How to prevent ear infections in cats

cat ear infection testimonial

Remember: a healthy cat’s ear should be odorless, pale pink in color, and show no signs of swelling or excessive wax.

There’s not really any two ways around it:

If you want to prevent cat ear infections, you need to be diligent in checking your cat’s ears. More specifically, you need to be checking for signs of cat ear infections, including redness, discharge, or foul odors coming from your cat’s ears. Remember: a healthy cat’s ear should be odorless, pale pink in color, and show no signs of swelling or excessive wax. And, if you do suspect that your cat has an ear infection, remember to reach for Banixx!

Give yourself a paw on the back: you’ve learned the ropes of how to treat cat ear infections! Being able to identify and treat your cat’s ear infection is vital to keeping them happy and healthy. 

But, you know how else you can guarantee that you can keep your pointy-eared buddy feeling and looking their best? By continuing to read our cat blog! That covers a variety of topics.  For example, do you know why your cat gets those (nasty looking) hair balls? Yep, we cover that one and many more!



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