Inner Ear Infection in Cats

Last Updated on March 25, 2020

This is something I recently became aware of. Unlike dogs who will itch, grunt, and growl over a pain in the ear, cats tend not to do much of anything. They become more tired and that is about all you will notice at first. This is especially true with an inner ear infection. So what can you look out for with feline inner ear infections?

Symptoms To Look Out For

Cats can’t tell us when something is wrong. Not all issues will present themselves with a cry or a change in diet. This is why it is important to really know your cat’s behavior. If you suspect something to be wrong with your cat, it won’t hurt to take them in to see a vet. With inner ear infections, especially in older cats, using home remedies is not always a good idea. Here are the most common signs your cat may have an inner ear inflection:

  • Drowsiness/Fatigued
  • Wet Ears
  • Itching
  • Balance Issues
  • Sleeping on Ears
  • Hearing Issues


Like us humans, when we get a headache, we become drowsy or just too weak and tired to do anything. This is the same with cats but they can’t vocalize what is going on. Pay attention to your cat’s behavior. Are they sleeping more, taking fewer trips to the box? Did you notice they sleep a good portion of the day away where they are normally active? This is a sign that you really have to pay close attention to.

Wet Ears

If you rub the bottom of the ear gently together and you feel liquid, bingo! Your cat likely has an infection. You will notice buildup in the ear but sometimes it is only clear liquid. Wet ears are also common with ear mites so if you have a kitten or a cat that frequents outside, be sure to get that ruled out.


If your cat itches their ears a lot or if they tear up when you do it for them following with a back kicking motion, this likely means there is pain and relief happening. Not all cats will touch their ears when an infection is present because not all of them itch, especially when there is inflammation. The only time it will “tickle” or “sting” is when it is rubbed.

When to See a Vet

If you suspect your cat may have an ear infection, it is best to get it checked out ASAP by a Vet. Inner ear infections can permanently damage hearing if not treated.

Balance Issues

If your cat off-balance? If you have ever had a lot of fluid in your ear, you will become dizzy when you look up. This is what was happening. Only inner ear infections will cause this and most of the time, you cannot see any visible build-up when looking in the ear.

Sleeping On Ears

Cats are known for sleeping in weird positions so this is often overlooked. When we have ear aches we tend to reach for a heat pack. Since your cat can’t, they will block it so heat builds up inside for minor relief. They will likely sleep on the same side of their head each time too. This is likely because the one ear is more bothersome than the other.

Hearing Issues

If you notice your cat’s hearing is suddenly a bit off, their ears should likely be looked over by a vet. This is an issue that can eventually turn into permanent damage. Cat’s will lose minor hearing as they age but major sudden changes are not normal.

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