Ear infections are nasty. Your cat is so dependent on its ears for mobility and navigation that an ear infection for them is much worse than for us. These infections can be caused by a number of different factors, and more often than not, an ear infection is a secondary ailment. Because cat ear infections are very common, there are several home remedies to help owners combat the issue.
Before you apply any home remedies to your pet, make sure to speak with your vet first. It would be best to catch any other ailment before the issues get any worse. If there is excessive blood or discharge, skip the home remedy, and take your pet straight to the vet. For less severe cases, it may be safe to treat your pet at home. Before we get into home remedies for ear infections in cats, let’s fully explore what one is.
What is an Ear Infection?
Just like us, felines can be plagued with an ear infection. This is never fun, and can mess with your pet’s ability to hear. Certain infections can be painful and also cause a loss of balance because the ear is crucial to the body’s ability to navigate.
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There are several causes for an ear infection, but kittens and outdoor cats are more prone to get them. This is because kittens have a weaker immune system and outdoor cats are exposed to more parasites, especially if they love to hunt.
An ear infection is the inflammation of the inner, middle, or outer ear, often caused by contamination. External ear infections are called otitis externa, and middle ear infections are called otitis media. In felines, the most prevalent cause of ear infections is mites. In fact, they are responsible for just over half of all ear infections in cats.
An ear infection can be the main issue, but more often than not it’s a sign of another medical ailment. Allergies and foreign objects lodged in the ear canal are responsible for many ear infections in cats as well.
Causes of Ear Infection in Cats
There are several ways in which your cat could get an ear infection. As stated earlier, mites are the most common cause of ear infections. Ear mites are parasites that are about the size of a pencil point. They are highly contagious and can be spread from cat to cat within seconds.
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Kittens are much more likely to contract mites, but adult cats are still in danger of an infestation. Outdoor cats also have a higher risk of getting ear mites.
Other than ear mites, these are some of the most common causes of ear infections in cats:
- Foreign objects such as mulch or grass
- Yeast or bacteria overgrowth
- Polyps in the ear canal
- Excessive wax
- Ruptured eardrum
- Overgrown hair in the ear canal
- Autoimmune diseases
Symptoms of Ear Infection in Cats
When felines have an ear infection, it won’t be subtle. The signs are usually easy to spot. Your cat will paw and scratch at its ears, and may even shake the head or tilt in discomfort. Please remember that ear infections are typically a secondary condition. For instance, an autoimmune disease will weaken your pet’s immunity and cause several different infections at once. Depending on the severity of the infection, symptoms may include:
- Redness or swelling
- Discharged that is yellow, black, or resembles coffee grounds
- Excessive Wax
- Strong Odor
- Loss of hearing or balance
Prevention of Cat Ear Infection
Preventing your cat from getting an ear infection is difficult. Because there are so many causes, trying to guard against all of them is nearly impossible. However, the cat ear mite is the most common cause and there are effective methods to prevent infestation.
It is important to keep your pet on a monthly check-up schedule with the vet. Also, clean bedding and pillows that your pet comes into constant contact with weekly.
Check your cat’s outer ear and ear canal daily for irritation, redness, debris, residue, and odor. A pale pink color is normal as long as there is no odor or residue. There are many sprays available for sale at pet stores to help combat allergies and other irritants in the air that cause dryness or itchiness.
Although you may be encouraged to clean the inside of your cat’s ear with a q-tip, do not. Unless instructed by a vet, never put any solid objects into your cat’s ear.
Home Remedies for Ear Infection in Cats
Owners must be careful when treating their cat for ear infections. Remember never to insert anything harmful into the ear; you may puncture an eardrum. Many times, an infestation of ear mites can cause other issues within the ear. So even after the mites are gone, and infection may persist.
There are several over the counter ear miticides for sale at pet stores. This is the treatment owners tend to flock to most. Follow the directions on the bottle for application. Most of these ear drops require weekly use, but continue to apply until you see the symptoms subside. If the symptoms are not going away, please see a vet.
Olive oil is also known as a great home remedy to clean out ear mites and debris. Please speak with your vet before using olive oil in your cats’ ear. Owners can put two or three drops on the ear and then massage up from the base of the ear to the tip. This can help clean out debris and mites. Use a cloth to wipe anything pushed up from the tips of the ears. Never insert the cloth into the ear canal.
Apple Cider Vinegar
A mix of 50% water and 50% apple cider vinegar can be useful to combat yeast and bacteria infections. This is another popular treatment amongst owners. Never directly pour apple cider vinegar into your cat’s ear. Soak a cotton swab in the solution and press the soaking swab gently to the tips and outer ear lobe, allowing the solution to drip down into the ear slowly.
Yellow Dock Root
This medicinal root has been praised for decades for its anti-inflammatory properties. Dilute the extract of yellow dock root in water. Five drops to one tablespoon of water is perfect. Soak a cotton swab in the solution and apply it to the tips and upper ear, allowing the mix to slowly work its way down the inner ear. Never stick anything directly into your cat’s ear, and do not pour the solution directly into the ear. Repeat this method every other day for two weeks.
Much like olive oil, coconut oil can be used to clean the ears. Owners can put a pinch off garlic powder in a tablespoon of the coconut oil to help repel parasites. Soak a cotton ball in the mix and press the ball against the ear so that the mixture seeps out slowly. Owners can then massage the ear upwards from the base to help dislodge foreign objects or clear debris.
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You never want to see your pet suffer, and an ear infection can be very irritating and painful. It can be caused by various factors, including cat ear mites, foreign objects lodged in the ear, allergies, yeast or bacteria buildup, and excessive wax. Luckily, there are several home remedies for ear infections in cats.
Owners should always go speak with a vet before starting a home treatment for ear infections. This is because there can be a much more serious issue causing the infection, and it’s best to alleviate that to stop the symptoms.
Make sure to keep your home clean and wash your cat’s bedding areas weekly. Daily looks inside your pet’s ear are highly recommended as well. It may be impossible to stop ear infections but with the proper knowledge and procedure, it can be an easy issue to solve.