Otitis in Cats: Causes, Diagnostic and Treatment

Our smaller brothers, as well as people, are subject to various inflammatory processes. For example, cats often suffer from otitis — a pathology from the category of otolaryngology.


Otitis is classified according to the departments of the hearing organ (external, middle, internal), where the inflammatory focus is formed.

Most often, cats have otitis externa. It is successfully treated and does not cause complications. However, if the diseased ear was treated late, the inflammatory process flows into the internal parts.

Otitis media also does not cause serious concerns and with adequate therapy passes without consequences for the body.

The most serious pathology is a deep ear infection that develops in the inner ear. The disease is fraught with serious complications in the form of meningitis and deafness, possibly fatal.

No cat is immune from otitis media. It doesn’t matter how old she is or what breed she is. At risk — weakened animals, elderly individuals.

The primary signs that provoke the development of the disease include the following:

  1. Fleas, ticks. Parasite bites damage the skin and mucous membranes and cause inflammation.
  2. Water that gets into the ears becomes a favorable environment for the reproduction of bacteria.
  3. Hypothermia weakens the immune system, which cannot restrain the development of pathogens.
  4. Foreign bodies that prevent sulfur from escaping, which leads to inflammation.
  5. Fungi. Decomposing, fungal microorganisms destroy the surface layers of the skin of the ears.
  6. Weak immune system. If a weakened body does not cope with its protective functions, infection, trauma, metabolic disorders, and so on can cause otitis.
  7. Allergy to medicines, food. Experiencing itching, the cat is scratching the ears, which include the bacteria.
  8. Injuries. Abrasions and scratches on the ears should be treated with antiseptic in a timely manner to prevent inflammation.
  9. Hormonal disorders. Deviations in any direction (lack, excess) of hormones can contribute to the appearance of an inflammatory focus.
  10. Autoimmune pathologies. They are characterized by the rejection of the body’s own tissue cells by the immune system, as foreign.
  11. Hair in the ears. Overgrown hair in the ears contributes to increased sulfur production, causes itching and discomfort. When combing, the ears are damaged, which causes infection and inflammation.

Primary inflammation can be complicated by yeast infections and bacterial pathogens, which leads to purulent otitis media.

There are also a number of causes that cause inflammation of the internal parts of hearing — injuries to the skull, in particular, the temporal bone, damage to the eardrum, and malignant tumors inside the ear.

The clinical picture

You can suspect otitis media in a cat by its behavior. She combs her ears, tries to cover them, and tilts her head toward the affected ear.

When examining the ears, redness and swelling of the outer side of the ear canal appear, transparent or dirty yellow, gray, black unpleasant-smelling discharge, scratching and ulcers. These are signs of otitis externa, which is a good reason for a trip to a veterinary clinic.

Middle and internal otitis media are characterized by the following symptoms:

  • ear pain, painful lumbago that makes the cat jump and get scared;
  • temperature rise;
  • lack of appetite, depressed state;
  • the affected ear is slightly bent;
  • discharge of pus from the ear, characteristic squelching when pressing on the shell;
  • sagging lips and eyelids from the inflamed ear.

If otitis takes a chronic form, the pet becomes restless due to periodically occurring pain.

When viewed with an Otoscope, the skin is noticeably thickened around the entrance to the ear and near the auditory membrane.

Diagnostic measures

Diagnosis of otitis includes anamnesis, Otoscope examination, laboratory tests, urine tests, General and biochemical blood tests, antibioticogram, x-ray, cytological smear.

It is very important to identify the factor that provoked otitis, as treatment will be aimed at eliminating it. For example, when the fungus is not prescribed antimicrobial drops: they suppress the natural microflora and allow the fungus to actively multiply.

Treatment, prognosis

Treatment of otitis media is complex. It begins with the mandatory cleaning of the auricles from secretions (exudate, dirt) and crusts. If you neglect this procedure, medications will not have the desired effect. For this purpose, antiseptics are used: 3% hydrogen peroxide; solutions of Furacilin or Miramistin.

With purulent otitis, a deeper cleaning of the hearing aid from pus will be required, which is performed surgically in the veterinary clinic. Among the most effective ear drops can distinguish Ciples, Actovegin, Sofradeks, etc.

In case of inflammation provoked by ticks, the veterinarian prescribes acaricidal drops. If you have fungal otitis media, you will need to use ear fungicides. Antimicrobial ear drops and antibiotics are used to treat bacterial and purulent otitis media.

For allergies and hormonal changes, antihistamines and corticosteroids are used.

Advanced stages of otitis require surgical intervention — artificial puncture, as well as deep cleansing and powerful antibiotic therapy.

Other methods of treatment for otitis include the elimination of pain. In some cases, the specialist decides to use novocaine blockade, the introduction of detoxifiers. Regardless of the form of otitis, vitamins are prescribed to increase immunity, Immunostimulants.

As for the prognosis, in the vast majority of cases, with timely treatment, it is positive.

How to care for a cat with otitis media

The first thing the owner should do for a sick cat is to provide it with good care: a suitable room, complete rest, and a balanced diet. The room where the pet is kept should be regularly ventilated. So that the cat does not suffer from drafts, it should be taken out to another room for the time of airing.

The treatment should be performed with medications prescribed by a specialist. Independent choice of medications, increase or decrease in the dosage of drugs can adversely affect the health of a four-legged pet.

Proper treatment of the ears:

  1. Lock the cat in by wrapping it in a blanket so it can’t break out or scratch you.
  2. Carefully turn the ear out.
  3. Use a cotton swab dipped in a disinfectant solution to thoroughly clean the ears from dirt.
  4. Drop drops into the ear canal, massage the ear so that the medicine is evenly distributed throughout the cavity.
  5. Similarly, treat the second ear.

The cat will not meekly endure until you finish all the manipulations, but no matter how she resists, you can not interrupt the processing procedure.

However, keep in mind that if you go too deep with a cotton swab, you can damage the eardrum.

Possible complications

Otitis media does not always end without consequences. So, the purulent form is dangerous by rupture or dissolution of the tympanic membrane. Through the hole formed, pus enters the head and brain, which leads to meningitis, deafness, and death of the animal.

Preventive measures

To prevent otitis media in cats, you need to remember about prevention measures. Most of them are elementary compliance with animal welfare standards. These include periodic inspection of the ears, cleaning them with special tools, preventing long-term stay of the pet in conditions of high humidity, antiparasitic treatment, restriction of free range.