This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.
You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.
Some cats frequently scratch at their ears - why ?
There are many reasons why some cats scratch at their ears. By far the most common cause is the presence of small parasites - mites - in the ear canal. These mites cause irritation as they move around within the ear canal and the cat will scratch at the back of the ear. The mites can not be seen easily without a magnifying glass, but they stimulate the production of wax in the ear canal and this can often be seen as a dark reddish-brown to black discharge. The mites are transmitted from one animal to another by close contact.
Your veterinarian will use a special instrument - called an auroscope - to look down into the ear canal, and then the mites can be seen . There are a variety of drug preparations that can be used to kill the mites - and these are usually liquids that have to be squirted into the ear canal.
Other causes of ear scratching include ear infections, allergies and foreign objects eg grass awns. Click here for further information about other causes of ear inflammation (called otitis)
Updated October 2013