While Maine Coons are capable of grooming themselves effectively, they are unable to keep their ears clean, which makes them more susceptible to ear infections.
Their pointy, well-tufted ears can develop the Maine Coon ear problems listed below, which can be both uncomfortable, or even painful for your treasured cat.
The most common cause of ear problems in Maine Coons is ear mites. They are microscopic parasites that feed off ear wax, consequently making your Maine Coon’s ears extremely itchy. Unfortunately, there is very little Maine Coons can do to get rid of ear mites on their own.
If you notice your Maine Coon pawing at its ears or continually shaking its head, your kitty may have ear mites.
In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about Maine Coon ear problems and infections, including how they can be treated.
Maine Coon Ear Problems
Maine Coon cats are well known for their large size and thick, luscious long fur, which makes them well suited for the harsh winter climate of Maine, the United States where they originate.
These large cats are people-oriented and have an impressively relaxed and laid-back temperament.
Besides being gentle-natured, Manie Coons are highly intelligent, sociable, goofy, playful, loyal, and eager to please their human companions. That’s why they continue to be one of the most loved domesticated cat breeds in the United States, and other parts of the world.
Health-wise, Maine Coons are generally considered to be healthy and hardy cats, but it is important to be aware that they are predisposed to developing certain genetic health problems.
Like other cat breeds, Maine Coons can also get feline ear problems and other medical complications. That’s why you should always ensure that your beloved Maine Coon gets veterinary care if they appear unwell.
This is particularly important when it comes to Maine Coons ears since some parasites that affect Maine Coons can also be transmitted to you and your family members (source 1).
The table below shows the most common Maine Coon ear problems:
|Ear Mites||Microscopic parasites that enter and |
live in a cat’s ear canal
|Wounds||Can lead to infections if they do not|
|Yeast Infection||Usually triggered by underlying|
medical issues in a cat e.g. allergies
|Elderly Cat Ear Infection||Older Maine Coons have weaker |
Let’s take a closer look at these Maine Coon ear problems:
1. Maine Coon Ear Mites
Ear mites are a common cause of ear infections in Maine Coons.
However, considering that Maine Coons, and cats in general, have a tendency to mask their symptoms when they are infected, it becomes relatively difficult to notice ear mites in cats.
Essentially, ear mites are microscopic parasites that enter and live in a cat’s ear canal. They are the culprit in about half of all feline ear infections, and although they are not life-threatening, ear mites are very annoying and make the ear of your cat very uncomfortable.
When mites make their way to your Maine Coon’s ear canal, they satisfy their snack attack by gnawing on ear wax and oil found in the ear canal and, sometimes, the feline’s skin. The bugs are so tiny that they look like “dots”.
Although ear mites have a considerably short lifespan, they are prolific breeders, which makes it necessary to deal with them as soon as possible.
The most common ear mite is the otodectes cynotis mite, and your Maine Coon cat can catch this from its natural environment.
For example, these bugs can crawl from other pets, including dogs and other cats, onto your Maine Coon. They can also be transmitted even when there’s brief physical contact, which makes it worthwhile to isolate infected cats from your other pets.
If you suspect that your Maine Coon has ear mites, you can easily inspect the pet’s ears for mites.
To do this, gently massage the base of the Maine Coon ear’s back area with your thumb and forefinger, then observe the feline’s reaction. A cat with ear mites will likely growl and even try to escape immediately when you start massaging their ear.
You can also watch out for these signs and symptoms of ear infection in cats:
- Bald spots
- Red/stretched skin
- Black or red ear canal
- Cat pawing their ears
- Cat continually shaking their head
Maine Coon ear mites are too tiny to see with the naked eye. Therefore, if you find it difficult to check your Maine Coon cat for ear mites, make sure you take them to the vet for diagnosis.
Your veterinarian will look into your Maine Coon’s ears with an otoscope, which offers a magnified view of the inner ear. This enables the vet to see if your cat has ear mites or any other feline ear infection.
If ear mites are found your vet will prescribe or give you the right medication to treat your Maine Coons ear mite infection.
Ear mites in Maine Coon can be treated with ear drops and ear insecticides. Early detection of the ear mites can help hamper the development of an ear infection (source 1).
Maine Coon ears are also very susceptible to wounds.
While a wound sustained on the pinnae can heal by itself, whether your beloved cat gets wounds through accidents or bites by other pets, it is important for you to keep a vigilant eye on the healing process.
In most cases, despite Maine Coons being too fluffy, wounds on your cat ears will be visible. For serious injuries, your Maine Coon ears might bleed.
Although Maine Coon wounds can heal independently, it is prudent to tend to any wound on your cat’s ears. Thankfully, disinfecting wounds is easy.
To clean your Maine Coon cat’s ears, make sure you clean the area surrounding their wound to decrease or eliminate any ear irritation. Next, moisten a cotton ball with a veterinarian-approved solution and disinfect the wounded area. This should help to speed up the healing process and prevent other Maine Coon ear problems.
If the wound leads to an ear infection or bleeds, consider taking your Maine Coon to see a veterinarian immediately (source 1).
3. Yeast Infection In Cats Ears
Yeast infections in Maine Coon cats are a major concern for many owners.
In most cases, the infection is triggered by an underlying medical issue such as allergies.
Malassezia yeast is a normal inhabitant on the skin of your Maine Coon and does not pose any threat to cats with healthy skin.
Normally, these yeast organisms exist in very low numbers in the ear canal; therefore, they do not cause a problem in Maine Coons with normal skin.
However, this is a type of yeast found in felines that has been recognized for its ability to cause yeast infections in Maine Coon cats, whose health is reduced or weakened by allergies or other health problems.
When your Maine Coon’s skin health is weakened by allergies or other medical issues, its ears become susceptible, allowing the yeast population to get out of control. The large colonies of yeast then produce substances that cause irritation and inflammation within your cat’s ears. This will cause discomfort to your cat during the early stages and ultimately lead to an ear infection.
The symptoms of a yeast infection in cat ears include:
- Thick Brown Yeast Discharge
- Head Shaking
- Ear Scratching
An in-clinic test can confirm if these symptoms hint at yeast infection or a different medical problem affecting your Maine Coon.
If your veterinarian rules out a yeast infection, treatment involves the use of antifungal medication.
Your vet should also investigate if there is an underlying disease triggering the yeast issues and prescribe the right medication if there is any.
4. Elderly Cat Ear Infection
It is common knowledge that aged felines have a weaker immune system than their younger counterparts. As such, your senior Maine Coon is more prone to ear infections.
In elderly Maine Coons, ear infections result from bacteria or fungi flourishing inside the ear canal.
The growth of either bacteria or fungi is usually accelerated by the following things:
- Ear Mites
- Earwax Buildup
- Ear Tumors
- Overgrowth Of Hair Within The Ears
- Improper Cleaning
Due to an elderly Maine Coon cat’s already weak immune system that comes with age, senior Maine Coons are prone to chronic conditions that further suppress their immune systems, making them vulnerable to many ear infections.
If you suspect your aged cat has an ear infection, consider informing your veterinarian immediately.
Your vet will examine the cat’s ears with an otoscope, looking for:
- Any Obstructions
- Excessive Yeast
How Do Cats Get Ear Infections?
There are many different factors that can cause a cat to develop an ear infection.
For example, your Maine Coon might catch ear mites by coming into physical contact with another animal. Maine Coon ear mites are considered the culprit in about half of ear infections in cats.
Besides ear mites, cat ear infections can also be caused by the following factors:
- Bacterial Infections
- A Foreign Body Lodged In The Ear
- Wax Buildup
- Long Fur In The Ear
If the cause is an underlying health problem, a qualified veterinarian can help you determine the uncommon cause and offer medications to treat the medical condition (source 1).
Are Maine Coons Prone To Ear Infections?
While ear infections tend to be relatively uncommon in Maine Coons, it doesn’t mean that these beloved family pets are completely immune to ear infections.
If you are a first-time owner, it is worth noting that Maine Coon ear infections can be an indication of an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention. These are the top 7 Maine Coon health problems to be aware of.
Sometimes Maine Coon ear infections are unavoidable, even when you are always on top of cleaning and grooming your cat.
Generally, unless your Maine Coon has ear mites, allergies, or something lodged in its ear canal, ear infections are a secondary condition, meaning they signify an underlying medical problem.
The prime cause and perpetuating factors for middle ear infections called otitis media, and outer ear infections called otitis externa, plus other Maine Coon ear problems include:
- Excessive Growth of Yeast or Bacteria, or both.
- Wax Buildup or Thick Air in the ear canal
- Ruptured Eardrum
- Polyps or Tumors within the ear cal
- Foreign Bodies in the ear canal
- Environmental Irritants
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Immune System Diseases like FeLV and FIV
- Improper Cleaning
- Diabetes Mellitus
These conditions cause inflammation in Maine Coon ears and often result in itch-scratch cycles, which give birth to the symptoms of ear infections.
Ear infections bring about discomfort and can sometimes be very painful since a cat’s ear canals are very sensitive.
If ear infections are left untreated in Maine Coon cats this can result in hearing loss (source 1).
Keep reading to discover some alarming Maine Coon ear problems that will require the immediate intervention of a qualified veterinarian.
Cat Ear Infection Black Discharge
Often associated with ear mite infections, black discharge is a serious condition that requires prompt veterinary attention.
Black discharge from a Maine Coons ear might be an indication of a chronic ear infection in your cat or a serious underlying medical issue.
If you notice a black discharge coming out of your cat’s ears, it is likely that the Maine Coons ears will be very painful, so your cat may refuse to allow a vet to inspect their ears.
In cases where there is a great deal of black discharge in your cat’s affected ear or your cat seems to be experiencing a lot of pain, your veterinarian can utilize sedation or general anesthesia to calm the cat before diagnosis.
Your vet should diagnose your Maine Coon and prescribe medication to treat the ear infection causing the black discharge. Most importantly, your vet needs to identify the root cause of the black discharge and offer medication that can help ease the problem (source 1).
Cat Ear Infection And Sneezing
Ear infection and sneezing in cats are typically secondary conditions indicating another medical condition.
If your Maine Coon develops itchy ears and sniffles simultaneously, several factors could be culprits, including:
- Immune System Disease
Considering that these conditions can grow to something serious, it is extremely important to seek the intervention of a qualified vet immediately.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a serious disorder that can weaken your Maine Coon’s health and cause ear infections and respiratory issues.
In this regard, if your Maine Coon shows signs of ear infections along with sneezing, your vet may want to further test your cat for FIV and prescribe the right medications (source 1).
Cat Ear Infection Treatment
If your Maine Coon cat has ear mites, the good news is that you don’t have to spend a huge amount of money on medicine.
There are several home remedies for cat ear infections that you can use to treat your cat. These include:
- Ear Cleaning Solution: Ear cleaning solutions are available to purchase in most pet supply stores. With your veterinarian-approved solution, all you need is to place drops of the solution in the ear canal, then massage the affected ear gently to bring the debris to the ear’s outer part. Once the infection-causing debris is on the outer part, you can wipe it using a cotton ball or tissue.
- Ear Miticide: Ear miticide is a natural insecticide that you can find in pet stores. Just make sure you buy the one suited for felines and follow the instructions in the manual carefully.
- Flea Products: While mites are not fleas, using flea products can help mitigate mites. This is because sometimes mites wander around the cat’s body.
Veterinarians can also prescribe the following for the treatment of cat ear infections:
Of significance, ear infections in Maine Coon cats can become chronic and cause hearing loss or facial paralysis. It is therefore important to get your cat treated as soon as you notice any signs of ear infections.
It is important to note that it is not possible to prevent your cat from ever getting an ear infection. However, cleaning your cat’s ears regularly along with regular veterinary checkups can help hamper the development of ear infections (sources 1,2).
Here are some other great tips on how to keep a Maine Coon cat clean.
Can An Ear Infection Kill A Cat?
Cat ear infections are not fatal.
However, considering that even the smallest ear infection can lead to permanent hearing loss and balance problems when left untreated, pet parents should always treat cat ear infections like any other serious medical condition (source 1).
Are Cat Ear Infections Contagious?
Ear infections are generally not contagious for humans and other pets, except those caused by parasites.
Parasites, like ear mites, are highly contagious for other cats and dogs in your household.
Maine Coons with ear mites may also transfer these ear mites to humans, but this should not worry you because humans seem immune to ear mites (sources 1)
Cat Ear Infection That Won’t Go Away
A chronic ear infection may cause permanent changes to the Maine Coons ear and nearby bones. One cat ear infection that seems to overstay its welcome is called chronic otitis.
Essentially, chronic otitis is a long-lasting ear infection that can affect any feline, including Maine Coons. It is commonly caused by:
- Excessive Growth Of Bacteria Or Yeast
The bad news is that chronic otitis is progressive and can potentially result in rupture of the eardrum or even permanent narrowing of the ear canal.
As for treatment, it is a multistep process that starts with cleaning the Maine Coons ear, followed by using medications like antimicrobial and anti-inflammatories. In extreme cases, surgery might be required.
Depending on the severity, you will need topical medication tailored to treat the specific bacteria, yeast, or mite. If the eardrum is ruptured, you will need systemic antimicrobials. You can also use systemic anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and redness (source 1).
How To Tell If My Cat Has An Inner Ear Infection
While signs of ear discomfort can help indicate when your cat has an ear infection, the best way to tell if your cat has an inner ear infection is by using an otoscope.
An otoscope is a tool that helps veterinarians visualize the ear canal. As such, it is handy in examining if a cat has an inner ear infection (source 1).
How To Clean Maine Coon Ears
Cleaning your Maine Coon’s ears is one of the best practices to keep your feline free from ear infections.
Here are some easy-to-follow steps for cleaning a Maine Coon cat’s ears:
- Getting Started: Position yourself comfortably and hold the Maine Coon cat in your lap. Wait for your cat to also feel relaxed and comfortable on your lap.
- Touch: Grasp the Maine Coon ear tip and flap it as you gently pull it back.
- Cleaning: Add ear cleaning solution to the ear canal until it is completely full.
- Massage: Wrap your finger in gauze and massage the base of the ear for ten seconds to allow the solution to work.
- Let Go: Release your cat and let it shake its head to remove any excess solution still trapped in the ear.
- Wipe: Wrap your finger in a dry gauze and gently wipe the ears to remove any excess liquid or debris out of the ear canal.
- Repeat: Repeat the same process with the other ear.
All Maine Coon are susceptible to ear problems.
While ear mites are one of the most common and contagious Maine Coon ear problems, there are other felines ear problems that might attack your Maine Coon.
Hopefully, after reading this post, you can help your Maine Coon lead a happier life with minimal risk of getting ear infections.
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