As a cat owner, you’re likely well-versed in your cat’s favorite spots for a scratch—under the chin, at the base of the tail, and behind those adorable ears. But if you start to notice skin irritation or crusty scabs on your cat’s ears during your nightly scratch sessions, it may be a sign of an underlying feline skin condition.
Fortunately, feline skin issues can usually be treated at home. The trick behind effective treatment is knowing what you’re dealing with, as well as your treatment options. In this article, we’ll discuss how to identify the cause behind your cat’s ear scabs so that you can choose the fastest, safest, and most effective solution for your furry friend.
Miliary Dermatitis: The Culprit Behind Scabbed Ears
In most cases, scabs on cat ears are a result of miliary dermatitis—a skin condition caused by an allergic reaction. This skin problem is one of the most common cat skin conditions to be aware of.
When an allergen causes a cat’s skin to flare up with a rash, the cat can’t help but to scratch the itch. Often, the excessive scratching that follows from your cat’s allergy will irritate the skin to the point of scabbing.
Miliary dermatitis can be caused by:
- Fleas or mites – If your cat spends time outdoors, there’s a chance their miliary dermatitis is due to bites from pests, like fleas or mites. These tiny traumatizers can be difficult to see in your cat’s coat, so if you notice excessive itching and scabbing, thoroughly inspect your cat’s fur with a comb. You’ll want to be on the look-out for small, dark-colored insects. You may also notice your cat’s ears smell if they have an ear mite problem. If the source of the feline miliary dermatitis is in fact a flea infestation, your veterinarian will be able to help mitigate the issue with treatment.
- Food, weather, or dust allergies – Allergies can develop at any time during your cat’s life, causing rash flare-ups on your cat’s skin. Check for any recent changes in your cat’s environment that could be causing dermatitis and consider switching your cat to hypoallergenic food. Allergic reactions can also be due to medications, so if your furry friend has recently started a new prescription, let your veterinarian know it may be causing an allergic reaction.
- Bacterial infection – A bacterial skin infection or internal infection may be the culprit behind your cat’s skin condition. If this is the case, you may notice other symptoms, including lethargy or decreased appetite. To learn about cat ear infection symptoms, we’ve written about this topic in detail on our blog.
A vet can usually determine the cause of feline miliary dermatitis through a combination of tests and a thorough examination of your cat’s medical history. Any relevant information you can provide your vet is essential for an accurate diagnosis. The more communicative you are, the faster your feline friend can start recovering from their scabby ears.
After you find the cause of your cat’s miliary dermatitis, you can start problem-solving. The first step is eliminating the exact cause of the rash, which means:
- Eradicating fleas or mites
- Changing their diet
- Removing allergens from their environment
- Treating any underlying bacterial infections
Once you’ve treated the source of the rash, you can start the process of healing your kitty’s scabs.
A topical treatment can quickly and safely alleviate any itchiness and pain your cat may be experiencing as their scabby ears heal.
When it comes to treatment options for your cat, there are several to choose from, including:
- Antihistamines – If you’ve dealt with allergies of your own, you’re probably familiar with using antihistamines to stop sneezing, sniffling, and itching. Interestingly, antihistamines work just as well for cats. A topical antihistamine can help keep your cat from scratching their scabs as they heal.
- Steroid cream – A low-potency steroid cream, such as hydrocortisone, can help relieve itching for your cat when applied regularly to their scabbing skin. However, it’s important to note that some potential side effects of a steroid treatment may further irritate the skin, so it’s best to only use a steroid cream as directed by your vet.
- Antibiotics – In extreme cases, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help speed the healing of your cat’s ear scabs.
Check out our topical treatment, Vetericyn Plus® Feline Antimicrobial Facial Therapy to quickly relieve any symptoms your cat is experiencing. This liquid formula won’t sting or burn and helps the management of common feline issues around the face, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and chin.
Even with the use of topical treatments, you might continue to see your cat scratching at their scabs, in which case, you may want to apply bandages to the affected areas to help heal any kind of cat skin problems.
Bandages can be helpful in preventing:
- Further scabbing
It’s important to follow your vet’s instructions when applying bandages or gauze to your cat’s ears to ensure you don’t cause further irritation. Bandages should also be changed daily for your cat’s comfort and safety.
If bandages and creams still aren’t stopping your cat from scratching, a veterinary cone is the next best way to address the issue and eliminate the possibility of further irritation.
By placing a cone around your cat’s neck, they won’t be able to reach their ear scabs and scratch them. Although your cat may find the cone annoying at first, they’ll quickly adjust and be well on their way to healthy, scab-free skin.
Vetericyn: Fast, Safe, and Effective Pet Solutions
Now that we’ve examined the causes and solutions for crusty scabs on cats’ ears, you may be wondering where you can turn for safe and reliable treatment products.
That’s where Vetericyn comes in.
Our non-toxic pet-care products are manufactured in the US and trusted by veterinarians around the world. From our Vetericyn Plus® Antimicrobial Ear Rinse, to antimicrobial wound and skin care, to plant-based medicated shampoo, we’re committed to delivering products that will ensure your cat enjoys years of chin, butt, and ear scratches.
Treat your cat to Vetericyn today.
- Pets WebMD. Remedies for cat scabs. https://pets.webmd.com/cats/remedies-cat-scabs##1
- Bluecross. Skincare and earcare for cats. https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/skin-and-ear-care-cats
- VCA Hospitals. Hydrocortisone topical. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/hydrocortisone-topical