A marvel of complexity and a true external organ, the ears of cats and especially kittens are particularly sensitive and require special maintenance. But how to take care of it? And how to clean them? And especially how to recognize an ear disease?
The composition of the cat’s ears
As with most other mammals, a cat’s ears are made up of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.
The outer ear includes the auditory canal and the pinna, an area visible to the naked eye and particularly exposed to external aggressions. This pavilion captures sound waves and sends them directly into the ear canal towards the middle ear. The cat uses its ears as small independent antennae from each other since it can pick up sounds coming from different directions and turn them as it pleases thanks to its numerous muscles.
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The middle ear acts as an auditory canal and is made up of the eardrum and small bones whose vibrations transmit information to the inner ear.
The inner ear is lined with cells that take this information before transmitting it to the brain via the auditory nerves. The inner ear also contains the vestibular system, responsible for the balance. An ear infection that affects its internal part can therefore have dramatic consequences because, in addition to impairing his hearing, it could alter his balance.
Cat ear diseases
Particularly exposed, the ears of cats are very sensitive organs to external attacks, whether bacterial, viral or injury. If a wound or a torn ear – for example during a fight between two animals – is easily seen since the pinna tends to bleed profusely, a viral or bacterial disease will be more difficult to detect. There are certain signs that should always alert you and lead you to see a vet.
- The cat scratches its ear in an untimely fashion
- The cat’s ear smells bad
- You notice the presence of fungi or other foreign or parasitic bodies on or in the cat’s ear
- The cat’s ear produces a red, brown, yellowish, or black discharge
- The ear has a visible clump of earwax
- The cat’s ear (pinna or duct) is swollen or red
- The cat does not answer when you call it or shows obvious signs of deafness.
- The ear is bleeding (dried blood looks like brown earth).
- The behavior of the cat is unusual: it is amorphous or on the contrary aggressive
- The base of the cat’s ears is sparse, the skin is damaged
- The ear is tender or painful, your cat tries to escape or shows pain when you try to touch it
- The cat shakes its head and tilts it over and over
- The cat seems to have lost his balance.
If you notice any of these symptoms, see a vet right away! An untreated ear infection can cause irreparable damage such as long-term deafness.
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What are the causes of these disorders?
External ear injuries
The cat’s ear is very exposed to external aggressions due to its position on the animal’s body. It is therefore not uncommon for your cat to injure himself in this area. He may have got caught in something, had a fight with another animal, or just scratched too hard.
Wounds in the outer ear bleed profusely, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the injury is deep. In order to determine the seriousness of the situation, disinfect the wound with physiological saline. If you notice a depth, see that the ear is pierced or torn, or that the bleeding does not stop, then go without delay to the veterinarian who will proceed to a suture of the wound.
Usually caused by infections, these hematomas also called hematomas, are caused by the bursting of small vessels in the pinna. These bleeds are often caused by shock, for example, if the cat hits its head on a hard surface (if your cat is scratching too hard, it shakes its head without really paying attention). These bruises can also be caused by other types of trauma, such as a fight between cats. Othematomas are sometimes very painful, but can also go unnoticed in other situations. Whatever your cat’s reaction, consult.
Ear mange is a parasitic condition caused by the presence of mites around your cat’s ears. This scabies causes unpleasant and untimely itching. You may see small black clumps around your cat’s ears, while their skin looks raw from itchy rashes. Very annoying for the animal, the mange can degenerate if the parasites migrate to the inner ear. The cat then risks losing his balance. To get rid of scabies, consult a professional and use a specialized product.
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Ear infections in cats and kittens are very common. Bacterial, viral, or caused by ear scabies, this painful disease causes discomfort and is itchy. The cat seems to want to get rid of it by shaking its head sharply. The affected ear displays a reddish color and sometimes produces a discharge. A cat’s ear sometimes smells bad because of the presence of bacteria. Ear infections are not very dangerous but need to be monitored since a degenerating ear infection could spread to the inner ear and do serious damage.
We sometimes hear that cat or kitten ear infections are transmitted to small children. This is absolutely wrong!
In a few rare cases, one of the diseases mentioned above can cause deafness in cats. However, deafness is more often caused by serious diseases such as cancer, or a birth defect. The old cat is also prone to deafness. Congenital deafness particularly concerns white cats since it is estimated that 80% of white cats with blue eyes are deaf, compared to “only” 20% in white cats with yellow eyes.
Maintain your cat’s ears
We can simply prevent infections and ear infections, very disabling and dangerous in the long term by applying very simple hygiene rules. To ensure the well-being of your cat, it is therefore important to be vigilant, to take care of him and above all to never hesitate to consult a veterinarian if you have the slightest doubt or notice any suspicious symptoms.
The cat’s ear canal has an L-shaped shape that goes deep into the cat’s skull before turning at a right angle inward to reach the eardrum. The earwax is then stuck and the shape of this duct does not allow good ventilation or simple extraction of the impurities that would have slipped there. These small impurities and earwax accumulate and macerate in this poorly ventilated, humid and hot duct. The environment is therefore perfect for allowing bacteria to proliferate.
It is not always easy to clean the ears of a cat or kitten. Indeed, your animal does not like having its ears touched and this is normal. The earlier you get used to it, the more it will let go, so it is a reflex to adopt from an early age. Warning! If it is normal for your cat to be reluctant to let his ears touch, if his behavior seems exaggerated to you, and he categorically refuses you to approach a particular ear, it could be a sign of an ear problem.
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How to clean the ears of the cat?
To make sure that your cat’s ear stays healthy and healthy you can do a monthly cleaning. This cleaning will allow you to rid the duct of impurities such as earwax or small dust. Be sure to use a lotion specially adapted for cats, human products are dangerous for felines! If the operation is performed well with a special product, it does not hurt and does not present any risk, on the contrary: your cat should hear better!
- Insert the spout of the cat cleaner bottle into the ear canal. Rest assured, thanks to the L-shape of the pipe, the eardrum is unreachable.
- Push gently until you feel the tip touching the ear wall, then inject the serum.
- Massage the ear well to make the product work and to reassure the cat.
- Insert a piece of dry compressor clean cloth to collect dirt and wax clumps. Repeat the operation as many times as necessary to get rid of all traces of deposits. Avoid the use of cotton swabs, its shape could hurt your animal, especially if it jumps or makes a sudden movement.
- If your cat refuses the cleaning or is too rowdy and keeps moving, don’t hesitate to call a professional who will show you how to do it.
If you have a cat that goes outside, be on the lookout for parasites and other ear ailments that they might catch during its walks
Very sensitive, the ears of the cat need to be cleaned if you notice signs of dirt or if your cat has known ear pathologies. These cleanings are safe if you respect a few conditions and use suitable products. They will prevent many disabling and painful disorders. If your cat is exhibiting any worrying symptoms or unusual behavior, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of your veterinarian.