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Crusty ears on a cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: Bengal cat
Age: 3-6 months
My just over 3 month old, 100% indoor kitten has some crustiness on both tip/edge of his ears. One ear has it all along the edge. There isn't any blood but some definitely crustiness and hardness. His ear is curled back a little bit. His other ear has just a little starting on the tip.

Tuna doesn't seem to be too bothered by it but I have noticed that he does scratch his head/ear area every now and again.

Like I said, he is an indoor cat and has never been outside. We also don't have any other pets.

I am sending a bunch of pictures in .

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Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thank you for sending me these photos. Your boy is beautiful!

I have included a couple of the photos here:

crusty ear on cat

ear margin dermatosis on a cat

These images have me a little concerned. There is a chance that this could be something relatively serious. One thing that can look very much like this is a condition called pemphigus foliaceus. This is an autoimmune condition. It can usually be controlled with medication but it can be a lifelong condition.

Another possibility is something called squamous cell carcinoma. However, this would be unlikely in a 3 month old kitten. This is a type of skin cancer that is very serious.

In an outdoor cat, I have seen ears that look like this as a result of mosquito bites. Some cats can have something called mosquito bite hypersensitivity. But, at this time of year, this would be quite uncommon in an indoor cat.

In a three month old cats, ear mites are fairly common but this does not look like ear mites. Cats with ear mites have dark crusty material deep in the ear canal and not really on the tips or margins of the ear.

Another unlikely possibility is ringworm which is a fungal condition, but I haven't seen ringworm affect the ear margins like this.

I would highly recommend that you have your vet examine your boy. They will want to do some tests and will probably need to do a biopsy of part of the ear in order to determine what is going on.

If you do get a diagnosis, I would love for you to post back and let me know.

Dr. Marie



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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.
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Customer reply:

We took Tuna to the vet. It turned out to be ringworm. His ears got better on their own after a few more days, with the crustiness flaking off and the hair starting to grow back. We found another crusty spot on his upper body though, which the vet diagnosed as ringwork by flashing a blacklight over it and turning the fungus a bright green.

We're using topical medicine with good success. All is well!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm glad to hear that! Hope things clear up quickly!

Dr. Marie


Have you tried the Purr Pillow? This is one of Dr. Marie's top recommended pet products for 2016.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.