Diagnosis of ear mites is fairly easy.
Affected cats develop a characteristic
dry, crusty black ear discharge that has
been described as resembling “coffee
grounds.” Evaluation of a sample of
this crusty material on a microscope
slide usually reveals the presence of
live ear mites.
Treatment of ear mites involves
administering some type of medi-
cation that kills the mites. Some of
these medications are meant to be
administered directly into the ear,
while others are applied topically
to the skin between the shoulder
blades. Although both are effective,
cats hate having anything instilled
into their ears, and treatment can be
messy. Topical veterinary products
may develop additional clinical signs
such as a head tilt and/or an uncoor-
Diagnosing of a polyp is usually
achieved by directly visualizing the
polyp in the ear using a handheld
otoscope, similar to the one that phy-
sicians use to look into human ears.
Some cats resent this and require
sedation for proper evaluation.
Treatment consists of surgical removal.
Polyps, by definition, are attached
by a thin stalk. If the stalk is removed
along with the polyp, it is unlikely
to recur. If, however, a small piece of
the stalk is left behind, there’s a good
chance it will regrow in a few months.
To minimize the chance of recurrence,
a more complex
a ventral bulla
osteotomy is rec-
VET IS IN continued from page 20
are safe, effective and much easier to
use. Because ear mites are contagious
(to other cats, not to people), all cats
in the household should be treated,
even if they are not yet showing signs
Ear polyps are benign tumors.
They occasionally occur in cats, main-
ly young cats between the ages of 1
and 4. Why they develop remains a
mystery. As the polyp grows in the
ear canal, it can lead to the telltale
signs of ear discomfort (scratching
and headshaking). Because the polyp
may obstruct the flow of air within
the ear canal, wax and debris may
become entrapped behind the polyp,
leading to an infection. If the infec-
tion extends into the middle ear, cats
surgery requires the skill of an experi-
enced veterinary surgeon.
Malignant tumors of the ear
canal are uncommon, but they cer-
tainly can occur, usually in older cats.
At my feline veterinary hospital, our
beloved hospital cat, Topeka, devel-
oped a malignant tumor called a
squamous cell carcinoma in her left
ear canal. Despite surgical removal
and post-operative chemotherapy,
she eventually succumbed to this can-
cerous tumor a few months later, at
the age of 15.
Most cats go through life with-
out experiencing any ear problems;
however, be aware of the signs that
something might be aurally amiss in
your kitty. Fortunately, most feline
ear disorders are readily treatable and
have no lasting effect on your cat.
Ear mites are
common in kittens
than in adult cats,
from a multi-cat
environment like a
shelter or cattery.
inside the home that may cause or
contribute to the likelihood of hyper-
thyroid disease in cats. Studies show
that cats with hyperthyroid disease
often have elevated levels of poly-
brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
which are found on furniture treated
with flame retardants and carpet pad-
ding, among other places. When diag-
nosed, hyperthyroid disease can be
treated and controlled or even cured.
Cats are also experiencing cancers
more often than, say, 60 years ago.
Cats share our environment, so it’s
possible that the same environmental
factors causing cancers in people may
also be making cats sick.
Dr. Tony Buffington, legendary
veterinarian, an emeritus professor of
veterinary clinical sciences at The Ohio
State University College of Veterinary
Medicine, a clinical professor at the UC
Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
and an honorary research fellow at
the University of Bristol, School of
Veterinary Sciences discovered that
unenriched environments are
actually stressful to cats. As a result,
boredom may actually make cats
sick, causing idiopathic lower urinary
tract disease (now dubbed “Pandora
Syndrome”). And this disease can be
painful, which causes some cats to
urinate outside the litter box, which
can cause frustrated owners to give
up their cats. Allowed outdoors to
explore, boredom is never an issue,
but for the indoor-only cat, enriching
the environment with things like cat
trees, window perches and lots of toys
is essential for optimal cat health.
Also, with more to do, cats tend
be more active — and not as likely to
be overweight or obese, as 60 per-
cent of cats in the U.S. are. And there
is a correlation to arthritis and dia-
betes, among other medical issues,
in fat cats.
It appears to me that the right
balance for the benefit of neighbors,
wildlife and, most of all, your cats — is
to offer an abundantly enriched envi-
ronment indoors, without allowing
cats outdoors from day one.
I CATCUR Continued from page 51