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Dr.Fiona, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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My cat has just been diagnosed with ruptured eardrum and is

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My cat has just been diagnosed with ruptured eardrum and is now on antibiotics and ear drops..for the last 2 days ...he is unable to walk without falling over, his head is to one side and he is now shaking it a lot. How long before I can see improvement in his condition and can I ask for painkillers for him as I feel he is in a lot of discomfort. Regards Irene.

Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer!

I would like to help you and your cat with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

When was he diagnosed with a ruptured ear drum?

What is the name of the medication he is on (the ear drops and the oral antibiotic)?

Are his eyes flicking back and forth (sit nose to nose with him and watch the eyes closely over a 1 min period)?


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
He was diagnosed on thursday 22/7/10.
He was given antibiotic injection in vets and 7 days tablets of Antirobe capsules X 75 mg.
Surolan ear drops x 2 times daily.
His eyes were flickering back and forth, but now seem to have stopped.
Ok, thanks for that information!

And was your vet able to see down inside the ear canal to see the ruptured ear drum, or did your vet assume that is what was going on based on the symptoms?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The vet did not look in his ear, despite my asking if this condition could be seen by examination. His diagnoses was based on my info that my cat had a runny ear about a week ago which seemed to clear up, and his visual inspection of the lack of mobility which he described as 'BEING LIKE A DRUNK MAN'.
Ahh... I see.

And when you said "His eyes were flickering back and forth, but now seem to have stopped." - do you mean that they were flickering back and forth a few minutes ago, or they were doing that a few days ago?

Is he holding his head tilted to one side?

Does your cat go outside or is he 100% indoors?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Eyes were flicking yesterday, but not today.
yes he is all tilted to one side.
yes normally he does go out ,but I have kept him in since Thursday .
Ok, thanks Irene for all of your answers!

And what colour was the fluid draining from his ear?

Was it clear, or was it cloudy?

did it have a foul odour?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I think it was clear, but unsure. There was no smell. He generally tends to have dirty with drops etc his ear inside is very dark greasy looking, but not running.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Just want to know if diagnoses appears correct.
How long before i can see noticeable improvement.
can I go back to vet and ask for painkillers.

As your vet has diagnosed, it does sound like your cat has an inner ear infection (otitis media/interna)

This can cause a head tilt and falling to one side.

When cats have an ear infection in the outer canal (otitis externa) we usually see symptoms like discharge, itching and a red ear canal. There may be a foul odour.

Sometimes an infection like this can spread to the inner ear, but we can also see inner ear infections without any signs of an outer ear infection.

Inner ear infections can only be diagnosed by looking down the canal with an otoscope to check for bulging of the ear drum (indicating fluid build-up behind it).

Otitis media/interna can lead to irritation of the vestibular apparatus which can lead to episodes of dizziness and vertigo. This problem is treatable with antibiotics given by mouth.

More here:

It would usually take 3 days before you could start to see improvement, and a full week before dramatic improvement would be expected.

If the vestibular apparatus inside the inner ear is inflamed, then the eye-flicking and head tilt may be more pronounced. This should improve after about 3 days, though some cats will have a permanent head tilt.

more here:

I also want to mention that there are NO human pain killers or fever reducers that you would have at home that are safe to give a cat. Aspirin, acetaminophen (paracetamol) and ibuprofen are all very toxic to cats and should never be given! You can read more about them here:

Your veterinarian would be able to prescribe safe pain killers for your cat, however. You should be able to just phone and ask for some, and might not need to take the cat back in as he has been so recently examined.

If your cat were my patient, I would definitely want to have a close look down inside this ear in the next week. It may be that the ear was too painful and occluded with debris for your vet to be able to examine when your boy was in a couple of days ago. It is really important, however, that the ears be closely inspected to see what is going on in there. He may have a foreign body like a grass awn trapped in the ear canal. The ear will not get better until that is removed, if that is the case!

I hope that this is helpful to you and that your cat starts to feel better soon!

If this has been helpful, please accept my answer and leave feedback.

If you need more information, just click on reply and I will be back to provide it.

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.

Best wishes!




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