How to Treat Inner Ear Infections in Cats

In mammals, sound enters the hearing structure through the outer ear structure and vibrates off the middle ear structure. The inner ear, a system of bones, fluid and canals, translates those mechanical vibrations into nerve impulses that the brain interprets as the sense of hearing. A feline inner ear infection is the inflammation of that system of bones, fluid and canals inside your cat's ears. An inner ear infection can be caused by many sources, including cysts and tumors, blockages, or bacteria. If you believe your cat has a feline inner ear infection, here are the steps to diagnose and treat him.


    • 1

      Recognize feline inner ear infection symptoms. Your cat may be shaking his head and scratching at his ears, trying to dislodge debris and fluid in his ears. His ears may be red and inflamed. Another sign of a feline ear infection is black or yellowish discharge from your cat's ears. Inner ear infections may cause your cat to lose his balance or walk with a downward head tilt. Nausea and vomiting are not uncommon either.

    • 2

      See your cat's veterinarian for diagnosis. Feline inner ear infection symptoms can often be confused with other conditions like ear mites or brain conditions. Your vet will likely exam your cat's ears with an otsocope, a medical tool with a light used to look inside the ears. He will also have your cat x-rayed to check for blockages or foreign objects.

    • 3

      Treat any underlying conditions first. That means that if there is blockage, it must be removed. Any tumors or polyps must be removed. Only when the underlying condition that caused the inner ear infection has been resolved can you move forward.

    • 4

      Decide on the course of treatment. Minor inner ear infections can be treated with antibiotics either given orally or injected, combined with topical treatment. If your cat has a severe or chronic inner ear infection, he may need surgery. Surgery may involve removing portions of or the entire ear canal.

Tips & Warnings

  • The earlier a feline inner ear infection is diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of no permanent damage.
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