Cat ear problems
If your cat starts to scratch their ears, shake their head more than normal, hold their head to one side or rub one side of their face, they might be trying to let you know something’s not quite right, and you should take them to the vet to have their ears checked. Severe cat ear problems can have more serious effects, such as the loss of balance, but this can be due to other causes so it’s always a good idea to visit your vet for advice.
There are lots of reasons why cat ear problems can occur, but thankfully your vet will be able to examine your cat’s ears safely and tell you what tests or treatment might be needed to get them back to tip-top condition.
Helping to prevent cat ear problems
You can help keep cat ear infections to a minimum by keeping their ears clean and checking them regularly for anything unusual – after all, the sooner you see that something is amiss, the sooner you can get it sorted. Some cats might benefit from regular ear cleaning with special ear cleaners, as recommended by your vet, but remember that cat ears are very delicate and the eardrum can be very easily damaged, so never poke anything into your cat’s ears.
Your vet will be able to recommend a gentle cleaner that will be kind to your cat’s ears, and they’ll also show you how to use it properly. There are lots of different types of ear treatments available, from external drops to medicines that need to be administered straight into the ear canal. If you’re not sure how they should be administered, chat to your vet to get them to clarify it for you. Make sure you use a vet-approved treatment – don’t use an over-the-counter remedy without your vet confirming that it’s okay first.
Cats with white-tipped ears are more at risk of sun damage to their skin on their ears, which can potentially lead to cancer, so consider massaging a small smear of sunscreen lotion onto them to protect them during hot and sunny days.
Cats are less likely to inherit hearing problems than dogs are, but deafness in cats is more common in some purebreds and in white cats with blue eyes. There are lots of reasons why a cat might lose their hearing including neurological problems, severe ear infections, trauma or simply – like humans – old age. Older cats can sometimes lose their hearing so gradually that many owners don’t notice anything unusual for a long time, and sometimes not until they’re totally deaf. If your cat has gone deaf, don’t worry – cats generally cope well with hearing loss.
How to tell if your cat is deaf
Identifying whether your cat is deaf can be quite tricky as they rely on a lot of other senses to get around, such as the touch of their whiskers. However deaf cats won’t hear you approach them, and they won’t twitch their ears when there’s a sound, or turn to look at where a sound is coming from. If you’re concerned, talk to your vet, who will be able to assess your cat’s hearing.
Cats cope well with deafness, so the most important thing you can do is to make sure they’re safe, and try to prevent them from getting into a situation where their lack of hearing could be dangerous.
- Try not to let them roam around areas with lots of traffic, near lawnmowers or barking dogs.
- Try to keep them away from conflicts with other cats or dogs, as your cat’s deafness means they won’t hear hisses or warning signs from other animals.
- Encouraging them to stay indoors or in a secure garden may be the safest option for them, and will give you piece of mind.
- Instead of using voice commands, use clear hand signals that are consistent and easy to see. Encourage eye contact, but remember that cats can think that staring is confrontational, so include lots of blinking and occasionally turn your head away so they don’t feel threatened.
- Stomping your foot on the ground or clapping sharply to get your cats attention creates vibrations that they will feel. Try incorporating these into your normal communication with your cat, and when they respond to these signals, offer them a reward.
- You can even try using a torch to call your cat in for meals when it’s dark outside.
Deaf cats sleep very deeply and are easily startled, so make sure your whole family knows not to sneak up on them, and to only approach your cat from an angle that they can see you, so they’re not frightened.
If your cat wears a collar, make sure it shows your address and vet’s phone number, plus a note that identifies them as deaf. Make sure they’re microchipped, too, so they can be easily returned to you if they wander off or get lost.
By taking a little extra care, there’s no reason why your deaf cat shouldn’t be as happy and healthy as any other hearing cat would. With a few small changes, you can look forward to a fulfilling future with your feline friend.