Max was hanging out at the kitchen table. Marty was vacuuming and cats were scattering - all except him!
One of the reasons I tend to forget is that he's just so darn healthy (as opposed to when we first adopted him). During his first few months with us Maxwell had an ear infection that would not quit. Two actually: yeast and bacterial.
Turns out that ear infections are prevalent in shelter cats. And as cats are so adept at hiding maladies, its not surprising that they make it into their new home with it undetected. Often, a pet parent will notice their new kitty batting at an ear, excessive head shaking or tilting his head to one side. Sometimes, as it was with us, the ear begins to exhibit a strong odor.
|photo courtesy BigSisLilSis|
The challenge is that ear infections can be very painful and make the ear very sensitive. Your kitty probably won't much like being corralled and forcibly medicated.
The other bad news is that some of these infections can be persistent little buggers. In our case, it took five months before Maxwell's ear cytology came back normal. So twice daily for five months, Mom became the Bad Guy. Not fun!
Because of this, many people may opt to stop treatment. If this happens to your cat, please reconsider. Feline ear infections can cause permanent hearing loss. If the infection goes untreated, the nerves of the inner ear could become affected, causing dizziness, loss of balance and disorientation. In rare cases, it could even result in a cat displaying unusual eye movement (called nystagmus) or even cause him to walk in circles.
Maxwell was notably uncomfortable with his balance. Until his ear infection was eradicated, he refused to jump up onto things. Very un-catlike behavior! To this day, he gauges his leaps very carefully before attempting anything. (But in his case, this is probably because he has no eardrum in one ear - and so is completely deaf on that side - and his middle ear is open to the ear canal. We think this may have permanently impacted his sense of balance.)
If you adopt a new kitty - or if you volunteer at a shelter and help place cats into forever homes - please keep in mind that ear infections can become serious matters and should never be left untreated.
|Photo courtesy Ian Martin|
Lorie Huston, DVM