Occasional scratching at the ears is a fairly common behavior, but when the skin becomes inflamed or raw-looking, or if the scratching is accompanied by head-shaking or growling, you should suspect a more serious problem. So, why do cats scratch at their ears?


Sometimes, a cat will scratch an itch and inadvertently introduce dirt, bacteria, yeast, or fungus from their paws into the ear canal, causing an infection. Regular cleaning by you or a groomer can help prevent this problem.

Your cat could even be suffering from ear mites, which look as though “coffee grounds” are building up in your kitty’s ears. As with all other ailments, you should take your cat to the vet to determine if ear mites could be the cause.


The ears are one of the easiest spots for a cat to reach. So, if your kitty is suffering from flea bites, this may be the first place you notice that your cat has been scratching. An itchy cat will also lick or bite troublesome skin, so you may not have noticed your cat having a reaction to flea bites before.

Flea collars and topical flea treatments are available at your vet’s office, and treatments can last for a month or more. Some cats develop flea allergy dermatitis, which is a severe reaction to a flea bite. For these kitties, a vet may prescribe allergy shots or steroids.


Sometimes it’s hard to pin down what exactly is giving your kitty trouble, but the easiest allergens to remove from your household come from plastic and food. Just like flea bites, they can make your cat itchy everywhere, but the place you’re most likely to notice is the ears.

To ease this problem, try changing all of your feeding and water dishes to stainless steel or ceramic. If you have a pet fountain, keep in mind that even if the reservoir is steel or ceramic, parts of the water pump may actually be plastic. Switch your pet foods to limited ingredient and grain free versions, but keep in mind that more severe allergies may need a prescription diet. Even then, your cat may still experience an occasional itch. Like any ailment, it’s best to ask your vet.

Are you worried about your itchy cat while you’re away? Our pet sitters can check on your kitty regularly and alert you to an new or worsening symptoms. Give us a call today!

Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

“itchy” by Sandy Schultz on flickr