Why Does My Cat Keep Scratching Their Ear?

Cats are meticulous creatures. They spend a considerable amount of time grooming themselves, and it’s always a delight to watch them in action. However, when your furry friend starts scratching their ear excessively, it’s time to pay attention.

As a cat parent, you need to understand that excessive ear scratching isn’t normal behavior. It could be an indication that your feline friend is dealing with discomfort or pain. Unfortunately, cats can’t speak, so they rely on body language to communicate their distress.

Imagine having an earache; the constant throbbing pain can be unbearable. The same goes for your cat. Ear scratching is usually a clear indication that something isn’t right.

There are several reasons why cats scratch their ears excessively. From bacterial infections to ear mites, ticks, fleas, and allergies – the list is endless. Regardless of the cause, ignoring excessive ear scratching can lead to severe health complications.

In this blog post, we will explore the common reasons why your cat may keep scratching its ear. We’ll discuss the symptoms to look out for and provide insights on how to deal with it effectively. Ear scratching isn’t just a minor inconvenience; it could signify a severe health issue that requires immediate attention.

So, let’s find out.

What Causes Cats to Scratch Their Ears?

While it may seem like a harmless habit, excessive scratching could be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. In this post, we’ll explore the various reasons why cats scratch their ears and what you can do to help your furry companion.

Ear mites are one of the most common causes of ear scratching in cats. These tiny parasites live in the ear canal and feast on skin debris and earwax. Ear mites can cause intense itching, making your cat uncomfortable and restless. If you suspect your cat has ear mites, take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Don’t worry; treating ear mites is relatively easy, and your cat will be back to their playful selves in no time.

Allergies can also cause your cat to scratch their ears. Pollen, dust mites, or certain foods are common allergens that can lead to inflammation in the ear canal. This inflammation can cause your cat to feel itchy and uncomfortable, leading to scratching and head shaking. In some cases, allergies can even lead to secondary bacterial or yeast infections. If you suspect allergies are the cause of your cat’s ear scratching, talk to your vet about potential treatment options.

Ear infections are another common reason why cats may scratch their ears. Bacteria or yeast can infect the ear canal, leading to redness, swelling, foul odor, and discharge from the ears. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to take your cat to the vet for treatment. Ear infections can be painful for your furry friend, but with prompt treatment, they’ll be feeling better in no time.

Lastly, foreign objects such as grass seeds or small insects can get lodged in your cat’s ear canal and cause discomfort. If you notice any discharge or foul odor coming from your cat’s ear, take them to the vet as soon as possible. These foreign objects can be tricky to remove, so it’s best to leave it to the professionals.

Ear Mites: Symptoms and Treatment

It could be a sign of ear mites, a common cause of ear itching and discomfort in cats. These tiny parasites are highly contagious, so it’s important to identify and treat them promptly to prevent the spread to other cats in your household.

Symptoms of ear mites in cats include excessive scratching of the ears or head, shaking of the head, dark discharge from the ears, redness and inflammation of the ears, and a foul odor emanating from the ears. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to take your cat to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Thankfully, there are several effective treatment options for ear mites in cats. Your veterinarian may prescribe a topical medication that you apply directly to your cat’s ears or an oral medication given by mouth. It’s essential to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and complete the entire course of treatment to ensure that the mites are completely eliminated.

In addition to medication, regular ear cleaning is also crucial to remove any debris or discharge that may be present. Your veterinarian can show you how to safely clean your cat’s ears at home.

Prevention is key when it comes to ear mites in cats. Keeping your cat indoors as much as possible can reduce their exposure to other infected animals. Practicing good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly after handling other cats or pets can also help prevent the spread of ear mites. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify ear mites early before they become a more serious problem.

Allergies: Symptoms and Treatment

Allergies in cats can cause excessive scratching, which can lead to discomfort and other troublesome symptoms. If you suspect that your cat may have an allergy, it’s essential to seek a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian.

Symptoms of Allergies in Cats

The most common symptom of allergies in cats is excessive scratching, particularly around the ears, head, and neck. Other symptoms may include sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and skin irritation. However, these symptoms can also indicate other health issues. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian to determine the cause of your cat’s symptoms.

Diagnosing Allergies in Cats

A veterinarian will perform tests to identify the underlying cause of your cat’s allergies. These tests may include blood work or skin testing. Once the cause of the allergy is identified, your vet will recommend treatment options accordingly.

Treating Allergies in Cats

The primary treatment for allergies in cats involves addressing the underlying cause. For flea allergies, regular use of flea prevention products is essential. If your cat has a food allergy, switching to a hypoallergenic diet may be necessary. For environmental allergies such as pollen or dust, air purifiers can help reduce exposure to allergens.

In some cases, medication may be prescribed to manage allergy symptoms in cats. Antihistamines and steroids can help reduce itching and inflammation caused by allergies. However, it’s important to use these medications under the guidance of a veterinarian as they can have side effects.

Preventing Allergies in Cats

Preventing allergies in cats involves avoiding exposure to potential allergens as much as possible. Keeping your cat indoors can limit exposure to environmental allergens such as pollen or dust. Regular grooming and bathing with hypoallergenic shampoo can help reduce skin irritation caused by allergies.

Infections: Symptoms and Treatment

They could be suffering from an ear infection. Ear infections in cats are common, with bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infections being the most prevalent types. But fret not, we’ve got you covered on everything you need to know about ear infections in cats.

Symptoms of ear infections in cats include redness, swelling, discharge, odor, discomfort, and even difficulty hearing or loss of balance if the infection is severe. So if your cat is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s vital to take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

During a visit to the vet, they will perform a physical examination and may take a sample of the ear discharge for laboratory testing. It’s important to determine the underlying cause of the infection to ensure appropriate treatment.

Treatment for ear infections in cats typically involves cleaning the affected area and administering medication, such as antibiotics or antifungal drugs. Your vet may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and discomfort.

It’s crucial to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and complete the full course of medication as prescribed. This prevents the infection from returning or becoming resistant to treatment.

Ear infections may be painful and uncomfortable for your furry friend and can lead to more severe health issues if left untreated. So if you notice any signs of an ear infection, seek veterinary attention promptly.

Foreign Objects in the Ear Canal: Symptoms and Treatment

However, this sense of curiosity can sometimes lead to foreign objects becoming lodged in their delicate ear canal. This can cause discomfort and even infections if left untreated, so it’s important to know the symptoms, treatment, and prevention methods.

The telltale signs of foreign objects in the ear canal include excessive scratching, head shaking, tilting of the head, and discharge from the ear. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. Attempting to remove the object yourself can cause further damage to the ear canal and potentially lead to infection.

Your trusted veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination of your cat’s ear and may use tools such as an otoscope to visualize the ear canal. In some cases, your cat may need to be sedated to safely remove the foreign object.

If the foreign object has caused damage or inflammation to the ear canal, your veterinarian may prescribe medication such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs to help your cat heal. Prevention is always better than cure, so it’s important to keep your cat’s environment free from potential hazards. Keep small toys and other small objects out of their reach and regularly clean their ears to remove any debris.

When to See a Vet

But when it comes to excessive ear scratching, it can be tough to know when it’s time to take action. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

Keep a close eye on your cat’s behavior. If you notice them scratching their ears excessively or shaking their head frequently, it’s time to take note. These behaviors may be an indication of an underlying issue that requires professional attention.

Ear mites, allergies, infections, and foreign objects in the ear canal are some common reasons why cats scratch their ears. Ear mites are tiny parasites that can cause severe itching and discomfort for your cat. Allergies can also cause your cat to itch and scratch their ears, especially if they’re allergic to certain foods or environmental factors like pollen or dust.

If you see any signs of infection such as redness, swelling, discharge, or foul odor coming from the ear, it is crucial to take your cat to the vet immediately. An untreated infection can lead to more severe health problems like hearing loss or even spread to other parts of the body.

Even if your cat’s symptoms seem mild, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and take them to the vet. A veterinarian will be able to assess your cat’s overall health and provide a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan tailored specifically to your furry friend’s needs.


To wrap things up, if you’ve noticed your feline friend scratching their ears more than usual, it’s important to take action. This behavior is not normal and could be a sign of an underlying health issue. As a responsible cat parent, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your cat’s body language and seek veterinary attention when necessary.

Ear mites are one of the most common culprits behind excessive ear scratching in cats. These pesky parasites can cause intense itching and discomfort for your furry friend. Fortunately, with the right medication prescribed by a veterinarian, ear mites can be easily treated.

Allergies are another possible reason why your cat may be scratching their ears excessively. Identifying the allergen is key to preventing further discomfort for your cat. Infections can also lead to severe health complications if left untreated, so it’s essential to seek veterinary attention immediately if you notice any signs of infection.

It’s worth noting that foreign objects in the ear canal can also cause discomfort and even infections. Keeping small toys or other small objects out of reach from your curious kitty is crucial. Regular cleaning of your cat’s ears can also help prevent debris buildup that may lead to foreign objects becoming lodged in the ear canal.

In summary, taking care of your cat’s ears is vital for their overall health and well-being. If you notice any signs of excessive ear scratching or discomfort, don’t hesitate to seek veterinary attention promptly.