What You Need to Know About Your Cat’s Ear Health

It’s nothing short of exceptional.

Your cat’s sense of hearing is that good – and vastly superior to that of humans. Functioning like mini satellite dishes, his ears move back and forth as he listens intently and pinpoints the source of a particular sound.

Cats can hear high-frequency sounds we simply cannot. They’re adept at distinguishing the tone or pitch of various sounds, identifying the tiniest variances when multiple sounds are present. This heightened sensory ability helps explain cats’ ability to catch mice, as they can detect the ultrasonic calls of rodents. It also explains why your feline comes running every time you open a can of cat food.

With the incredible propensity felines demonstrate for hearing, it comes as no surprise that maintaining proper ear care proves critical to a cat’s overall health and well-being. As a cat owner, it’s worthwhile to monitor your pet’s ears on a weekly basis, checking for debris, wax, or anything else that might impede their ability to offer your feline optimal alertness.

Your cat’s ears are prone to problems ranging from infections to trauma wounds to tumors. But by providing adequate monitoring and care, you can minimize the risk that your feline friend’s ears are anything but perky and useful. Here’s what you need to know about cat ear health.

Structure and Function of the Ear in Cats

The feline ear is divided into three portions: External, middle, and inner ear. The external ear is identified by the erect or visible portion of the ear and the external ear canal, the middle ear includes the eardrum, and the inner ear is located within the skull bone.

While the main function of ears involves detecting sound and allowing for hearing, they also serve to assist felines with maintaining balance. The three semicircular canals of the inner ear are oriented at right angles to each other. When the head turns, the resulting movement of fluid in these canals allows the brain to detect which way and how much the head is turning.

As a cat owner, you can observe various indications your cat is suffering from ear problems and should be examined by your veterinarian. These signs include:

  • Persistent shaking of the head
  • Excessive scratching of the ear
  • Discharge or bleeding from the ear
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Accumulation of dark ear wax
  • Redness within the external ear
  • Loss of balance or disorientation

For diagnosis of external ear disease, a visual examination and special laboratory tests are important. The ear canals are examined using an otoscope. For middle and inner ear disorders, on the other hand, further diagnostic tests are necessary and are usually performed with your cat under anesthesia.

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