Why do Cats Scratch Their Ears?


Ears the cat!Les Chatfield | more info (via: Wylio)
My cat has been digging at her ear for as long as I can remember. I have taken her to the vet numerous times and they have found no excessive waxy build-up in that ear, or any type of ear parasites. She shakes her head quite a bit and I’ve caught her aggressively digging at it several times. Any other ideas as to what may be the cause?

Arlington, TX

Cats dig at their ears when their ears itch. Head shaking is another sign of itchy ears.

Any time a cat really digs into her ears, I become concerned about the risk of an ear infection, ear mites, or a foreign object (such as a foxtail) in the ear. If your vet has checked the ears recently and given them a clean bill of health, then these issues shouldn’t be playing a role in the scratching and shaking.

Another common cause of itchy ears is allergies. Allergic reactions to fleas, pollen, dander, spores, or food can cause the ears to become excessively itchy. You may want to consider good flea control as well as a switch to a hypoallergenic diet. Cortisone can reduce itching when it is applied to the ears, but cortisone is a really strong medicine and I don’t recommend it unless your cat is traumatizing herself with her scratching.

Here’s another thing to consider: maybe your cat’s behavior is normal. Everybody scratches their ears now and then. If you don’t believe that, just look around at other drivers the next time you’re stopped at a stop light — someone is bound to have his pinky finger in his ear. Cat’s don’t have pinky fingers, so they have to make due with digging and head shaking.

If your cat isn’t miserably itchy, and if she isn’t hurting herself with the scratching, then you probably don’t need to do anything.

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