What does it mean if all my cats are constantly scratching their ears?

  • I have a multi cat house,  almost all my cats are constantly scratching their ears

  • Hi there, I am Dr Linda, a vet with 10 years of small animal clinical experience.


    I'm sorry to hear your cats are doing this. I know this must be worrying.


    A small amount of scratching can be a normal part of grooming. 

    However, if an owner notices scratching is more in one specific spot compared to others, there is likely an issue.


    Check for any redness within the canal, wax or bad smell. Are the ears themselves balding or scabby? Any of these signs would confirm a medical issue.


    There are several considerations including:


    • Bacterial or yeast ear infections
    • Ear mites
    • Allergies
    • Aural polyps
    • Foreign bodies like grass awns within the ears
    • Etc.


    As all cats are affected, an infectious cause like an infection or mites would be most likely.

    If related or if they're a similar breed (perhaps one prone to ear issues), this could also be a factor.


    A vet check is important so we can check inside the ears, swab any discharge and make a diagnosis.

    The cats may need an ear cleaner, ear drops containing antibiotics or antifungals and/or some anti inflammatories.

  • @Linda Simon Hi my Tuxie cat is almost 8 years and constantly scratches at his left ear until it bleeds. Any suggestions on what to do. Attached is a picture of his ear. Left ear

  • Hi Sharon and thank you for your question and this photo.

    I'm sorry he has been struggling with this issue.


    Intense itching like this can have a few causes and we'd have to consider:


    • An aural polyp (benign growth)
    • Bacterial or fungal ear infection
    • Ear mites
    • A foreign body inside the ear such as a thorn or grass seed
    • An allergy (though we would usually also see itchy skin)


    While we can see fur loss in the photo, the ear skin looks calm at the moment and there is no sign of a skin infection. However, protecting the ear skin with a buster collar can be useful, to prevent infection and bleeding.


    A vet check is best so we can look inside the ear and examine the canal. We may swab any discharge that is present so we can determine what treatment he needs.

    It may be that he requires e.g. some ear drops containing antibiotics and some oral steroids to reduce inflammation and itchiness.

  • @Linda Simon Thank you for your response.

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