Me-OW: Nailing Ear Infections

Something fishy with your cat’s ears?

Me-ahhhh…. Kitties love a good scratch behind the ears. Because like their two-legged compawdres, felines get itchy, scratchy ears now and then. But if you find that your clawsome Cornish Rex is constantly grazing his ears, rubbing his head on the floor, or walking with his head tilted to the side, he may have an ear infection.

Sounds like an ear infection.

How do you know if your pointy-eared pal has an ear infection? He’ll begin by shaking his head occasionally, then scratching his ear. This behaviour will gradually increase until your poor, irritated Ragdoll just can’t take it anymore. He may even moan as he tries to scratch his ear, as well as rub his head along the ground. Walking with his head at an angle is another tell-tail sign, as mentioned above.

When you examine your cat’s ear, you may notice:

  • A pungent odour.
  • Some discharge in the ear, especially in the ear canal. This may be brown, or yellow and pus-like (not to be confused with puss-like, for cat’s sake). The discharge may also contain blood, so you won’t want to turn a blind cat’s eye to it.

Sometimes little creepy crawlies called ear mites can cause ear infections, in cats. These very unwelcome guests move around the ear canal and cause great discomfort for your kitty – not to mention, make your skin crawl just by reading this. Your cat’s ears will respond to the ear mites by pumping out a waxy discharge. Unfortunately, this gunk is the purrfect hangout for bacteria, yeasts and fungi, while making the problem even worse for your cat.

See a vet. They’re all ears.

It’s usually better – and safer – to put your kitty’s ears in the care of his vet, for a professional examination and cleaning – rather than doing it yourself. He or she will look into your Exotic Shorthair’s ears with an otoscope to find out what’s causing the cat-tastrophe. If those pesky ear mites are present, the vet will find them, don’t worry. But in many cases, bacteria and yeasts alone can cause the ear infection. There might also be completely foreign elements such as grass seeds, in the ear. Your vet will treat this right away.

It’s possible your vet may need to anaesthetise your American Curl, to make sure he gets a good, thorough exam and cleaning, without a scratch. If this is the case, Doc will take a sample of the discharge and examine it under a microscope, to nail whatever bugs could be causing the infection. He or she may also send a swab off to a lab for a ‘culture and sensitivity’ test. Because some forms of bacteria are more resistant to certain antibiotics than others, this test will help pinpoint exactly what the bacteria is, and what meds will best send it on its way.

However things go for your pawsy patient, he’ll more than likely need antibiotics or other prescription medications to nip his ear problem. (Unfortunately, these types of ear meds aren’t available over-the-counter.) Be sure to complete the full course of any antibiotics or ointment your vet prescribes, rather than playing it by ear. So, the next time your cat tilts his head to the side, it really is because he’s wondering if your shoelaces want to play.

Ears to a healthy, happy kitty, pet-lovers!

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