Q: My sweet kitty, Penelope, has been scratching her ears for almost a week, but I can’t see anything wrong. What could be her problem, and how can I help her? M.W., Farragut
A: If Penelope has been scratching for almost a week, it’s time for you to see your veterinarian. He/she will need to examine her ears with an otoscope. Dogs and cats have vertical and horizontal portions of the ear canal, and this tool will allow your veterinarian to examine the entire ear canal, including the portion that you are unable to see.
If there is discharge present, your veterinarian may remove it and then examine it under the microscope. Cats (and dogs) can get a parasite called ear mites, which are quite itchy. Pets can also get bacterial or fungal infections in their ears; either of these infections could also result in Penelope’s discomfort.
Occasionally, there will be a skin problem on or near the pinna (ear flap). Your veterinarian will likely examine the area around the ear also to rule out other possible problems. Sometimes fleas like to congregate there, and that certainly could make her scratch.
Once the problem is identified and treatment initiated, you’ll soon be able to make Penelope more comfortable. Best of luck to both of you.
If you have questions about your pet, you may email Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org