I've had my local Banfield vet check my cat because of dark spots in the ear and local hair loss on the same ear. They did an ear swab that showed nothing wrong, even though there is dark icky build up in his ear, there is no smell, foreign bodies or pus.

1 week later my cat's ear started feeling dry and slightly scabby, so I took him back to have them double check the ear. They did the second ear swab 10 days after the first. They say the results are negative, nothing in the ear. No mites, fungus or bacteria, and the hair loss is normal for senior cats, my cat is almost 15 years. The affected area seems to be getting more dry and scabby, but my cat doesn't seem to be bothered by it, no scratching, no head shaking, no redness, swelling or bumps that are obvious to me.

Should I take my cat to another vet for a second opinion?

hair loss and scabbing

dirty ear

  • It looks a bit like malassezia dermatitis, especially in the first photo. I am not a vet but it does look like it. If you can afford to pay you should go to another vet, just to make sure. Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 2:47
  • I was wondering whether you found out what’s going on with you cat or not? Because my cat started getting the exact same thing on her ears and now they are everywhere, her nose, hands, feets and her tail. Took her to 5 vets and none of the medications worked on her. To be honest, none of the vets knew what exactly was going on with my poor cat. Commented Jul 16, 2023 at 19:20

2 Answers 2


Please note that I'm not a vet, but I once had a cat that went missing for some time and came back with a very severe ear infection including mites.

The dark stuff in your cats ear is ear wax and the color is absolutely normal. The skin inside the ear doesn't look reddened either. If you want, you can clean it with a wet cotton pad. Do not use cotton buds / Q-tips on animals because the risk of injury is too high. Instead, wet a cotton pad with warm water, squeeze out the excess and swipe the ear in a motion that mimics another cat licking the ear.

If your cat had mites or any itchy ear infection, the hair loss would be centered right in front of the ear and on the cheek. Infections like these affect the inner ear, which is situated inside the skull behind the cheeks. The edge of the outer ear, where your cat lost hair, is too far removed to expect hair loss as a result of infection.

That said, the skin of his ear sure looks dry and slightly scabby. When our cat had his severe infection, he scratched his cheek until it was raw and bloody. Our vet gave us an oil that we applied to the raw skin, which kept the skin moisturized and lessened the itchyness. We also fed him an oily food supplement that kept his fur very smooth and shiny. Maybe you can help your cat the same way, either with products from your vet or with small amounts of coconut oil (PetMD).


If you don't trust your vet, it's always fair to get a second opinion.

Though if I didn't trust my vet I'd change vets.

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