Cat ears


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Our question this week was:

My 3 year old cat is shaking her head, scratching her ears until they bleed, and has a hard black wax coming from them. I've had her to two different vets and they both tell me its just dirty ears. I've had her for 18 months and her ears were not like this when I got her. I clean them sometimes every day because they are so bad. I'm having a hard time believing there is nothing wrong when she is so uncomfortable. I'm soooo desperate for advice.

Domenica Solarek


Hi – thanks for your email.
Sorry to hear about your cats problems – she sounds miserable. I don't
have the benefit of seeing your cats ears but generally speaking, it is uncommon for a cat to scratch at their ears until they bleed because they are dirty. Usually there is some kind of underlying infection. Cats can get bacterial, yeast and ear mite infections in the ears.

I'd recommend that you have her examined again and ask them to do cytology of the discharge. They should look for bacteria, yeasts and ear mites.

You can't always see ear mites and sometimes veterinarians will treat for the infection to see how patients respond because we know it is quite common.

A few articles that might be helpful to you is on our and includes:

Chronic Ear Problems in Cats.

Otitis Externa in Cats.

Ear Mites in Cats.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.