Otitis in cats

Do you think it’s possible your cat has otitis? Do you know how otitis may have occurred in the ears of your faithful companion? What are the symptoms, how is it treated and what consequences can it cause?

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If you are interested in learning everything about otitis in cats , read this article carefully and help your pet regain his health.

You might also be interested in: Home Remedies for Canine Otitis

What is otitis?

Otitis is the inflammation of the epithelium that lines the ear canal and the ear canal. This inflammation usually causes pain and temporary hearing loss, among other things. In addition, it is accompanied by many other symptoms that make it more easily identifiable and which we will explain further on.

This problem usually occurs when felines have low defenses for some reason. It has been proven that the seasons of the year in which otitis occurs are spring and summer due to the increase in temperature and humidity of the environment. The contagion of some possible culprits of otitis, such as ear mites, occurs through direct contact with an infested zone or animal. In shelters, in areas where there are colonies of cats and in general in any area where a large number of cats live together, this contagion often occurs by direct contact, since the constant control of all and all aspects of their health is always very difficult. Otitis can occur without contagion, that is, secondary to a trauma or to a bacterial or fungal infection due to a foreign body, among more causes.

There are several types of otitis depending on your cause and the area of ​​the ear that affects it. Depending on the affected zone we can classify it in:

  • Otitis externa : This is the most common otitis, but it is the least severe and the easiest to treat. It affects the outer ear, that is, the ear canal from the auricle to the eardrum. If this otitis is very severe the auricle is affected and the eardrum can break and the inflammation and condition extend to the middle ear, causing secondary otitis media.
  • Otitis media : Otitis typically occurs when an external otitis has been treated ineffectively. It occurs in the area of ​​the middle ear, where we find the tympanum that has inflamed and even ruptured due to otitis.
  • Internal otitis is inflammation of the inner ear and usually occurs by poorly healed trauma or otitis media or external otitis. By its depth in the ear it is the most complex otitis of curing.

Is there predisposition in some type of cat?

First it is good to note that, there is usually less predisposition in cats than in dogs. But in reality any individual can suffer from otitis and within the domestic felines we find that those who are most predisposed are those between one and two years .

In addition to the long hair specimens , as they usually have enough for the ears, they are also easier to suffer from otitis since the hairs on the ears retain more of the dirt and moisture. Felines that are long outdoors are more at risk for ear diseases, including otitis, so it is very important to periodically check your ear canals. They are also very prone to this ear problem, but secondarily, individuals who have very low defenses for some other major problem.

What causes otitis?

Otitis can be caused by a variety of things such as foreign bodies lodged in the ear canal, bacteria, fungi (yeast), external parasites such as dust mites and traumas in the area.

Here are some of the causes of this disease:

  • Ectoparasites : The ectoparasites that cause the most frequent otitis in felines are mites, microscopic external parasites but when they occur in large numbers in an area can be seen directly. This mite is called Otodectes cynotis and not only lodges in the ear when it infests an animal but also in the skin of the head and neck.
  • Bacteria and fungi (yeasts) : These are opportunistic pathogenic microorganisms that cause secondary otitis. They take advantage of situations such as excessive moisture, residual water after a bath that may have been in the ear, the presence of foreign bodies, trauma, allergies and irritations caused by cleansers to the ears that are unsuitable for cats. The most common bacteria are Pasteurella multocida, Pseudomona aeruginosa, Proteus and E. coli. In the case of fungi the most common is Malassezia.
  • Foreign bodies : Sometimes, especially in the case of cats that are long in the outside, they can introduce in the ear canal some objects like leaves, branches and ears that become a foreign body housed in the ear of our cat. This object lodged in the auditory canal will bother much the animal that will try to take it, usually without success, and will eventually end up damaging and inflaming the ear and causing secondary otitis due to bacteria or opportunistic fungi. We should avoid extracting ourselves the foreign body and letting it be a veterinarian doing it with the right stuff. In cats this case of otitis is less frequent than in dogs.
  • Injuries : As we mentioned before, another reason that can cause secondary otitis in the ears of our companions are the traumatisms, that is, a blow that caused damage internally and from this inflammation and wounds they take advantage of bacteria and fungi and cause otitis.

Other diseases and problems that give rise to secondary otitis : Secondary otitis usually occurs due to what we mentioned before, but can also derive from other diseases that the feline already suffer and therefore be a symptom of these. For example:

  • Hereditary keratinization problem : This is a defect in keratinization that occurs in a hereditary way. This problem in the process of keratinization causes inflammation and seborrhea and easily gives rise to erythematous and ceruminous secondary otites. In case of complication it can lead to secondary purulent otitis. This case of hereditary disease usually occurs more frequently in Persian cats.
  • Atopy and food allergy : This type of allergy is more common in dogs but can also occur in domestic cats. They can produce secondary otitis, especially when these allergic processes have previously produced facial dermatoses. In this case there are often opportunistic organisms various types of bacteria, but especially the yeast (fungus) called Malassezia pachydermatis.
  • Contact hypersensitivity and irritant reaction : Cats are generally very sensitive to products and medications, especially the cleaning products for the ears like drops. These products often cause severe irritations in the ear canal giving rise to secondary otitis. We should never use these products that are not indicated for use on cats, and preferably we should use one that is recommended by our veterinarian.
  • Immune diseases : These types of diseases are associated with atrial lesions and external otitis. Due to the excessively low defenses that these diseases cause in our pets, bacteria and fungi find the opportunity to proliferate and secondary external otitis occur as a great facility. We must keep in mind IVF or feline immunodeficiency virus.
  • Tumors : There are cases in older cats that otitis is repeated and even chronic, so we should suspect a tumor, whether benign or malignant, in the attached structures of the ear. For example, squamous cell carcinomas in white ears are common.
  • Nasopharyngeal polyps : These are non-neoplastic proliferations, that is, they are not abnormal. Therefore, it is common for young cats to detect these polyps in the areas of the middle ear, auditory canal and nasopharyngeal mucosa. Along with foreign bodies, these polyps are the most common cause of unilateral external otitis in cats. In this case, otitis is usually resistant to medication and can cause otitis media with respiratory signs.
  • More diseases and problems that can cause otitis : Scabies, seborrheic disorders, metabolic, endocrine and nutritional diseases.

    What symptoms does otitis in cats manifest?

    The signs and symptoms that our feline will present in the case of otitis will depend and will vary , especially in the degree of their intensity, of the origin causing otitis . The symptoms we can recognize are:

    • Frequent shaking of the head.
    • Inclination of the head. If it occurs on one side only, this indicates unilateral otitis which is usually caused by the presence of a foreign body in that ear. In the case of disturbing your ears will alternate the second side to bother them one or the other.
    • Pain in the area when caressing. They often complain and mew and even scream because of the pain.
    • Itching that can go from moderate to severe.
    • Due to itching, they often rub and scratch their ears and neck until they get wounds in the area.
    • Reddish and swollen ears.
    • Irritation, bleeding and pyoderma of the entire affected area.
    • Bad mood and even aggression, no craving to play and can end up happening to stop eating due to the great annoyances and pain they may be having.
    • Cerumen abundant dark in the ears.
    • Loss of hearing.
    • Bad smell in the ears.
    • Loss of hair in the affected areas by scratching excessively due to itching.
    • Presence of mites in the ears. In case of a very serious mite infestation, it should be taken into account that this may be a case of too low defenses due to FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).
    • Otohematoma: A problem caused by excessive scratching and continued head shaking. Otohematomas are accumulation of blood in the auricle and appear on the concave surface of the ear, between the cartilage and the skin or inside the cartilage, when the blood capillaries rupture. Externally it is observed like a ball in the ear, that very uncomfortable the animal and is very hot. The only solution is surgery.

    It is critical to our companion’s health outcome that as soon as we detect one of these symptoms, we take the veterinarian to diagnose him and indicate the appropriate treatment.

    How can we prevent and treat it?

    Next we will give you some advice and remedies to prevent and treat otitis in cats:

    • Maintain a follow-up of your health at home : It is essential that you periodically brush and bathe your pet by checking the state of various areas of your body including the ears. If we detect any symptoms of the previously described, we should not hesitate to consult the veterinarian as soon as possible and avoid pain, discomfort and complications to our friends.
    • Preventing your ears from getting dirty : When you clean your cat, you should never forget how dirty your ears are. In case you need to clean some of the accumulated wax, something you should do every two or three weeks, you should never use cotton swabs. It should be noted that the swab can do much damage to the inner ear in the event of a sudden movement, including breaking the eardrum. So the best way to clean the ear is with a sterile gauze around our finger and soaked in saline solution and gently remove the dirt only from the ear area, ie only the dirt from the area to see and not deepen.

    There are drops or cleansers for the ears, but because cats are very sensitive to medications and products in general, whether chemical or natural, we must use one that has been expressly prescribed by our veterinarian and never one that we see in the store of animals and we think it’s good. It is essential that you never use a dog product that is not suitable for cats, since this type of substances that produce irritations are also a major cause of otitis in our cats. In addition, if they are long-haired specimens, we can ask the veterinarian to cut off the ears every now and then to avoid accumulation of dirt.

    • Prevent your ears from getting wet : When we give you a bath, we should avoid getting soap and water. A simple way is, with pieces of cotton soaked with a little petroleum jelly, cover the ears gently so that we can remove with ease. It is very important to remember to remove the cotton, since if you leave it there will bother the cat, but if you can not get it by yourself, it will be a foreign body housed in the ear and may end up causing otitis. To remove any residual oil, cotton or water, use a sterile gauze around a finger to remove and dry. It is very important that there is neither water in abundance nor pressure to avoid breaking the eardrum, but if the ear gets water we should make sure we leave it clean and dry.
    • Periodic veterinary review : Every time we go to the veterinarian, either routinely or for something more specific, you should check the state of your ears more exhaustively than we do at home. By doing this, you will be able to detect otitis more quickly and, in this way, make the consequences less serious.
    • Follow the treatment indicated by the veterinarian : If you suffer from otitis, the veterinarian will indicate the following treatment, which will be important until the end, and although the problem seems to have been resolved, continue treatment until the end. Treatment will depend on the type of otitis you are suffering from, but usually these steps will follow:
    1. First remove the foreign body, if it exists.
    2. Perform a cleaning and drying of the ear.
    3. Check what is the cause to apply the appropriate treatment:
    • Foreign body : The veterinarian must remove the foreign body in order to cure the otitis. Once the foreign body is removed, we must carry out the treatment with the medicines that our veterinarian has indicated and we must apply as he has explained.
    • Bacteria : Cleaning should be done with water or saline so the specialist can better review the entire auditory canal. In the case of a bacterial otitis, we will prescribe an antibacterial topical and optical product.
    • Fungi (yeast) : In this case, once the specialist veterinarian has determined that the fungi are the cause, we will prescribe the appropriate fungicide product.
    • Ectoparasites : Mites are the ectoparasites that cause the most common otitis. The veterinarian should prescribe an antiparasitic like a pipette to distribute in the cross zone of the animal and an acaricidal optical product. Anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation and pain caused by otitis.

    If all this has no effect or from the outset the veterinarian who is the only solution, a surgical treatment will be performed.

    We must know that when you apply optical drops of any type on the ear to an animal, it will then shake your head to expel it from the inside of your ear, as it is somewhat uncomfortable for it. But it is very important to continue the treatment and let them shake their heads to expel the dirt more easily. In addition, even though otitis has apparently healed, we should end the treatment as the specialist advises us and make it last for as long as it tells us. It is very important to prolong another week, from which the otitis is apparently cured, to make sure that otitis does not recur easily.

    • The Elizabethan collar : Surely, the veterinarian will give you, as an aid to the treatment, an Elizabethan collar to put on your cat. This necklace may seem like a nuisance to them, but we must let them get used to it and use it as it will prevent it from continuing to scratch in an uncontrolled way and make more wounds and even the undesirable otohematomas.

      This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.

      If you want to read more articles the description of Otitis in cats , we recommend you to visit our section of Other health problems .

    Emily Harris

    Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-pI am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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