What's wrong with my cat's ear?
January 25, 2006 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Why is my cat's ear all messed up?

A few months ago, my cat had a scrape on his ear that got infected. The hair fell out, it looked gross, he got antibiotics and an ecollar and all was well. Yesterday, I noticed that the hair was patchy on the other ear, and today there is a cut and more hair loss. Does anyone know what this is and why it would recur? Thanks. Oh, and our other cat is not exhibiting any of these symptoms.
posted by jtron to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
What did the vet say it was when he was first treated?

If the scrape got crusty, it might be mange. It's contagious to other cats but not humans.

Alternatively -- do you feed your cat canned food? My black cat found a can I was soaking in water and forced her face into it to drink the lukewarm meaty water. (Eww!!) This scraped off some hair on her face and she looked mangy for a while before it grew back on its own. Check your environment to see if your cat is getting into some self-shaving situations.
posted by maudlin at 7:59 PM on January 25, 2006

check for ear mites. He might be scratching his ear to the point of infection. I would make a vet visit.
posted by ozomatli at 8:00 PM on January 25, 2006

how about ringworm? (it's actually a fungus) My cat had it on his ear, and it spread to his paws and tail. He would gnaw at the patches on his paws, I think it was pretty itchy. The fungus fluoresces, that's how the vet tested for it. The vet prescribed a topical solution, which didn't end up working, and then an oral medication (Sporanox, which was incredibly expensive). The itchiness might explain the scratches, and the fungus would explain the spreading of the patches, even if the first lesion disappeared, because the spores are pretty hardy. Be careful, if it's ringworm, because you can get it. He lost all the hair on his ear, but it grew back after a few weeks of the oral medication.
posted by chelseagirl at 8:26 PM on January 25, 2006

Yeah, sounds like he's either got a supersecret happyfuntimeplace that scratches his ears, or he's got mites or something. Keep in mind, your other cat may not have the mites, so that's not the be-all end-all indicator of whether or not a parasite is the problem. Some cats are just bug-repellant for no apparent reason (that I know of). Is there any gunk inside his ear? If you look in there and see anything black or brown that looks like, well, bug poop or nasty ear wax, it's probably mites.

On preview, could also be fungus, good point. Particularly if he goes outside or has contact with doggy friends or other things/people that go outside and have contact with the bare earth.

To the vet with ye.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:32 PM on January 25, 2006

I cast another vote for ringworm as a likely candidate. Paws, ears and faces are the major places it starts to spread, as the cat licks its paws to wipe down areas it can't lick directly to groom. Many start by looking like a spot where the fur was scraped off.

If that's even a remote possibility, you want to get to the vet pronto -- not all ringworm infections are created equal; some are slow and hit a small spot, some spread like wildfire.

This can definitely spread to people in the house, and not all people react equally -- you could get a little spot, or an all-over mess that looks like you went for a roll in the poison ivy patch. The longer the cat goes untreated the more spores there are in the house looking for a new place to live.

So get it looked at, and get it treated pronto; if it turns out to be ringworm and you develop what might be a lesion, get yourself to the doctor quickly also.

I don't want to panic you; if it's ringworm it's fairly easily treated (on the cat or you either one), but how much of a mess it will be to contain is dependent on how quickly you start treating it.

Also, just a FWIW -- I'm not a vet, and this is not veterinary advice, but a few years ago horror stories went around the cat showing community regarding a ringworm vaccination that some vets were offering, and some very adverse reactions some cats supposedly had with it. I've had no direct experience with it, nor do I know whether they still offer it or if it still has (or ever had) problems, but I do know that no vet would never talk me into inoculating a cat of mine with it (some vets take a bit too much of their advice from the vaccine makers).
posted by nonliteral at 10:56 PM on January 25, 2006

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