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Ask the Veterinarian/Cat has itchy ears


My cat shakes her head hard to make her ears flip back and forth.  Seems in distress.  I looked in her ear with a light and it looks quite dirty in the bottom - kind of black.  She is healthy otherwise.  My friend says perhaps ear mites?  Can't see anything alive moving around in the ear.
Any thoughts on what the problem could be?
Thank you,

Ear mites are very small and not really visible without some magnification.  Your vet can look in the ear with an otoscope and tell for sure.  There are other reasons for dark material in the ears like a ruptured eardrum or even excessive wax.  Cats can also scratch at the ears, shake their head and rub the ears from allergies to their foods.

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Dr. Louis N. Gotthelf


Dermatology and ear diseases of dogs and cats


I am the author of "Small Animal Ear Diseases; An Illustrated Guide" published by W.B. Saunders. I have over 25 years of clinical experience with a special interest in dermatologic conditions and ear diseases.

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