Your cat regularly scratches its ear?Do you find that his ears are particularly dirty?Your pet shakes its head in an unusual way?You think his behavior is abnormal?Your cat may be suffering from an ear infection. This is a condition that is particularly common in cats (as well as dogs), and it is necessary to treat it as soon as possible! This will help prevent complications and relieve your pet's pain.
What is an otitis?
An otitis is characterized by an inflammation of the ear. In cats, we are more likely to speak of otitis in the plural, as it is a syndrome with generally the same symptoms, but the causes can be very diverse. In cats, otitis is a rare disease that accounts for less than 5% of the causes of veterinary visits.
Cats' ears consist of three parts.
- The outer ear
It is composed of the pavilion and the auditory canal. The latter is angled: it has a vertical section, then a horizontal section, leading to the tympanic membrane.
- The middle ear
It consists of three small bones: the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup. These transmit the sound to the inner ear.
- The inner ear
It is formed by the membranous labyrinth, the bony labyrinth that surrounds the cochlea (the auditory organ) as well as the balance organ.
How does a cat get an otitis?
Cats can get an ear infection due to a number of factors. But the most common ones fall into several categories.
Parasites develop in the ear canal. The most common are fungi and mites. Moreover, the latter are often responsible for ear scabies.
They are naturally present, but too much abnormal development can cause ear infections. They multiply in the ear canal and generate the production of pus. In particular the "staphylococcus" and the "pseudomonas".
- Foreign objects
Some objects can accidentally enter the ear canal such as small dry grass, pieces of wood ... Not being able to be dislodged by the cat, it causes them some damage. Indeed, these foreign bodies descend into the ear canal, cause a strong inflammation and can even go as far as perforating the eardrum.
Whether related to food, dust or even pollen, allergies are among the factors that can, among other manifestations, cause ear infections.
There are other causes that can trigger ear infections in cats, such as irritation, tumors or polyps.
What are the symptoms of an ear infection in cats?
Ear infections are benign at first, but without proper treatment, they will develop as they become more severe. Otitis can progress to destruction of the eardrum and then enter the chronic phase, which can damage adjacent bones or nerve components. The prognosis can therefore become very serious. It is therefore important to recognize the signs and symptoms of an ear infection. Here's how to recognize an ear infection in cats:
✔ he frequently shakes his head;
✔ he scratches his ears violently with his hind legs;
✔ ear pinna lesions due to scratching;
✔ abundant earwax (brown colored secretion) is observed;
✔ a bad odor may be present;
✔ he tilts his head to the side of the diseased ear.
As soon as the onset of one or more of these symptoms is noticed, it is essential to take the animal to the veterinarian for a thorough consultation. Determining the origin of the ear infection will allow the cat to receive proper treatment and follow-up. s and would spend most of the time in hiding. You can set some sheets or boxes draped over the chairs for her.
How to treat otitis in cats?
In order to stop the evolution of an otitis in cats as quickly as possible, medical care is necessary from the first symptoms. Indeed, having the animal's ear examined with an otoscope by a veterinarian allows the cause of the otitis to be identified in order to have an appropriate treatment.
First, a local treatment is prescribed. This consists of cleaning the ear with an ear cleaning lotion as well as the local application of medication in the form of gel, drops or spray inside the ear canal.
If the otitis persists and the first treatment is not sufficient, it is sometimes useful to give systemic medication in the form of tablets (antibiotics, anti-inflammatories...).
In rare cases, a surgical intervention can be proposed. This usually happens when the animal suffers from tumors or polyps.
CAUTION: self-medication is not recommended. Indeed, some treatments are contraindicated when the eardrum is pierced. If your cat shows signs of otitis, it is essential to consult a veterinarian.
What to do?
It is never pleasant to see your cat or any other animal suffer. Thus, to avoid ear infections, it is strongly advised to monitor your cat's ears and to clean them regularly with a specific cleaning lotion.
For cats with a lot of hair at the entrance to the ear canal, the ears should be plucked. Some groomers do this. If the animal gets water in the ears, the inside should be wiped clean to avoid constant moisture in the ear canal.
The owner is the first person likely to discover the first symptoms of an ear infection. It is therefore essential to observe any unusual behavior of the cat and do not hesitate to examine it during its grooming or while playing with it.
As you may have understood, an untreated ear infection can quickly become chronic and lead to a vicious circle. In the long term, the ear infection can lead to a narrowing of the ear canal. This shrinkage can, thereafter, encourage the appearance of new ear infections. In case of doubt, and in order to limit all these complications, consult your veterinarian without hesitation.