Feline ear infections are different in a lot of ways than dog ear infections

October 31st, 2010 by Emily

Feline ear infections are different in a lot of ways than dog ear infections

Feline ear infections are different in a lot of ways than dog ear infections, in that while outer ear canal infection is not very common in cats, the middle or inner ear infection is.

These infections can be caused by several things such as allergies, especially food allergies, parasites, micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, plant awns, excessive moisture in the ears, hereditary immune conditions, and tumors.

However, again very much different than dogs, these infections in your feline are primarily caused by ear mites.

The symptoms of these infections will be an almost continual scratching or rubbing of the ear, redness and or swelling of the ear canal, shaking of pets heads as they are trying to get the infection out, and pain around the ears.

In advanced stages of these infections, there will also be a yellow or black discharge in the ears and your cat might have behavioral changes such as irritability and even depression. There will also be an unpleasant odor coming from your cat’s ears as the infection increases, and this raises the risk of middle or inner ear infections. These sections of the ears are separated from the outer ear by the ear drum.

You can not see these portions of the ear visibly, unless the ear drum has become ruptured. If this happens, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.

These two portions of the ear are what coordinate the control mechanisms and the hearing functions of your feline. If left untreated, it could cause permanent ruin and deafness in your feline companion.

Most causes of infection in the middle and inner ears are a result of extenuating circumstances involving an original infection of the external ear. If caught in the early stages, these infections involving the middle and inner ear can be treated very effectively. Again, these infections almost always are caused by ear mites.

The symptoms that you can watch for and immediately distinguish as an ear mite infection would be a black discharge coming from your cat’s ear. If you look for this discharge closely it is very simple to spot. Ear Mites are very tiny organisms that are very infectious.

They will closely resemble small ticks, and are very difficult to spot with the human eye as they are so small. They will appear as a white dot, when you can spot them.

Their infections will leave a trail of a dry black discharge that looks like small coffee grinds, but it is actually a mixture of blood, ear wax, bio-chemicals, and the ear mites themselves.

Ear mites will live on the surfaces of your cat’s ear canal skin, even though they occasionally go to the head or the face of the cat. They will lay eggs which are hatched in about four days. Once hatched, they feed on your cats ear wax and skin oils.

These ear mites can live up to two months and it that time frame can cause very serious infection to your pet’s ears.

Ear mites also resemble head lice, in that they are very easily transmitted from another animal that your cat has been around, most likely another cat. These infections can also be caused by allergies, and in most cases, the actual ear infection might be a sign that indeed your cat does have allergies.

Yeast and other bacteria might be the cause, but it is not to the same degree the cause as it is in dog ear infections. Parasites, especially in kittens, might also be the cause of these infections.

The parasite, most likely an ear mite, causing the kittens to so violently scratch at their own ears, that it produces a trauma effect, which adds to the infection. Much like dogs, cats can also get this infection from stick-tights, known as plant awns. These are small twigs that stick to your cat’s fur and work its way into the ears.

If your cat or kitten plays outside a lot, especially in wooded areas, checks their ears for this small intruders.

The final potential cause of these infections might be from your cats hereditary. Various hereditary diseases especially melanomas and tumors can cause ear infections.

Diagnosis of the actual cause of the infection is best left to your professional Veterinarian, as there are so many potential causes. Swabs within the ear can be taken very easily and the true cause can be determined.

In cleaning your cat’s ears, it is important to remember that their ears are more L-shaped than ours. Why is this important? Because most of the debris, the infections, or the parasites will begin to form in the corner of the “L” and this is the first place you should clean.

Cleaning your cat’s ears with ear cleaners that are slightly acidic but not to the point that they sting or injured your cat’s ears is the most recommended. Massaging the basis of the ears for short periods to release any caught debris is also recommended.

The key to preventing these infections is keeping your cats ears clean.

There are natural antiseptics that will also help in keeping your cats ears clean, especially from ear mites. Green tea, (make sure it is cool, not hot), applied to the ears will help the cleaning process.

Also, 3-5 drops of a mineral oil, olive oil, or almond oil will also help kill the ear mites, as it actually starves them.

Garlic blended into the oil will give it even more strength. Vitamin C supplements, especially liquid forms because of the superior absorption, are effective in helping to reduce the inflammation that these infections, especially those of ear mites, can cause.

There are several very good over the counter traditional and natural products that can assist in keeping your feline companion free of ear infections.

Several of the articles that I have written can be seen at my website:

Liquid Vitamins & Minerals for Humans & Pets



I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a “mutt” that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.

He found us, almost starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds.

After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the tiny guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and this day is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.

After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours apiece night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.

Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.

I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that adores to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process

In this pet care video, learn more about ear infections in dogs and cats (Otitis Externa). We’ll discuss testing & diagnosis and therapies & treatment for your pet. This video is NOT meant to replace the advice of your regular vet.
Video Rating: 5 / 5

Question: Canine Ear Medication Also used on a Cat??
Hi, I was wondering if the canine medication MalOtic (it is a Gentamicin sulfate, usp betamethasone valerate, usp and clotrimazole, usp ointment) can be used on cats as well? For the same reason.. a bacteria/yeast infection. Is this medication commonly used in felines as well?? Thanks
btw, this was prescribed for my boyfriends cat by his vet.. i just am weary of putting a canine medication in the cat’s ears.. nowhere does it state feline

Best answer:

Answer by catsrcool123
I am sure that they know what they are doing but you can call the same vet or another vet back and just double check!

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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4 Comments on “Feline ear infections are different in a lot of ways than dog ear infections”

  1. A Veterinarian says:

    It is not approved by the FDA for use in cats….but yes, it is commonly prescribed for them. We have some leeway in doing so when a medication has been shown to be effective and safe for a specific usage, even if the company hasn’t spent the money to have it approved. Tresaderm is approved for bacterial/yeast infections in cats. I have only seen one adverse reaction in a cat using MalOtic….and I’m not convinced it was the medication that caused it. One out of hundreds is a lower rate than many approved medications, anyway.

    I can’t say whether it’s safe for any cat I haven’t seen….but if your boyfriend’s DVM prescribed it specifically for his cat, then I’d feel pretty good about it.

    VERY wise of you to ask, however!!! Sometimes, mistakes are made, and the wrong medication gets sent home for one reason or another. Always…and I do mean ALWAYS…call and ask if there is any doubt whatsoever.

  2. Shay says:

    Go ahead and use it, I do for all my pets.
    Are you sure its an ear infection?
    It could be ear mites.
    Make sure you clean out the ears before putting meds in. You can use white vinegar diluted with water to clean the ears. (Works wonders for yeast problems)

  3. old cat lady says:

    Just call the vet to be sure. It’s really never safe to use a dog’s medication on cats because they groom so much more than dogs do and will ingest the medication. And definitely not for something that goes INSIDE a cat. Dogs and cats are very different when it comes to metabolizing medications.

  4. Jamie B says:

    Just call your vet and ask. It’s probably ok, but everyone needs to keep in mind that cats are not small dogs. They are a different species and some things that are harmless to dogs can be very harmfull to cats.

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