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Ear Discharge in Cats

You’ve noticed your feline friend acting odd lately. Maybe she has been shaking her head a lot, or scratching at her ears. Perhaps you’ve even spotted some yellow or black ear discharge or noticed a bit of a smell. Could your cat have an ear problem?

Ear problems in cats are quite common. It’s also common for people to misdiagnose their cat’s ear issues, sometimes leading to weeks of inappropriate treatment. Save her the pain and discomfort -- learn what ear problems might be troubling your cat, and find out what you can do to help.

Cat Ear Discharge: Common Causes

When your cat’s ears are healthy, they’re pink and clean inside, have no smell, have very little or no wax, and seem able to detect the sound of a can opener from a mile away.

When your feline friend has ear problems, you may notice a much different kitty. Symptoms of ear problems in cats include pawing at the ears, sensitivity to touch, a large amount of dark brown or black wax, hearing loss, head tilting or shaking, and loss of balance. The most common causes of ear discharge in cats include:

  • Ear mites . So tiny you usually need a microscope to see them, ear mites are the most common cause of cat ear problems, and they can be very irritating to your cat. An ear mite infestation can get so bad, that along with a lot of head shaking, your cat may scratch hard enough to create bloody sores; an ear infection may result.
  • Ear infections . This is serious business. Ear infections are not only extremely uncomfortable for your cat, but if left untreated they can lead to permanent deafness or a need for surgery. Ear infections in cats can be caused by many things, including bacteria, yeast, even a piece of debris caught in her ear canal.
  • Other causes . Ear discharge in cats may result from other problems, including food or inhalant allergies, wax buildup, tumors, polyps, drug reactions, a hereditary condition, or immune system issues.

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