An inflammation of the skin lining the ear, otitis is one of the most common conditions in cats, and may occur in one or both ears.

Symptoms
These may include regular ear- scratching and head-shaking, a discharge or smell from the ear and reddening of the inner ear flap and/or the ear hole. The cat may well hiss at anyone who ventures to touch him around the ear.

Causes
Normally, the amount of wax produced in a cat’s ear is exactly the same amount that is lost naturally. Much of the wax is lost through evaporation of the water from the wax. Problems occur when the ears do not get proper ventilation and the wax builds up. This excess wax causes irritation, and the ear is stimulated to produce even more wax. This leads to ideal conditions for normally harmless fungi and bacteria to grow and prosper. Ear mites, foreign bodies in the ear and skin problems can also cause otitis.

Treatment
Treatment may include syringing of the ear, or the application of a topical medicine, such as ear drops or ointment. Whatever medications are prescribed, it is important that you administer them exactly as instructed, and always finish the course of treatment. In serious cases of recurring otitis, surgery may be necessary to improve ear ventilation. Even though otitis is not a serious condition, if not properly treated it can become chronic, causing severe problems and possibly damage to parts of the ear and the cat’s hearing.