How to Clean Your Cat's Ears

Estimated Reading Time 5 minutes
How to Clean Your Cat's Ears

Most cats don’t need regular ear cleaning. But some feline breeds are more prone to the build-up of ear wax and/or ear infections. Cats with underlying health issues, such as allergies, diabetes, or feline leukemia, are found to be more at risk of ear infections. This is also true in cats with small ears, like Persians and Himalayans. For these cats, ear cleaning should be a part of their home grooming regimen. Keep reading for expert tips on low-stress ear cleaning for your cat!  Cleaning your cat’s ears keep them healthy and clean, as well as keeps problems like ear infections and ear mites at bay.  An ear cleaning regimen should be introduced to your pet cat as early as possible so she will learn to tolerate it. Make each ear cleaning session a positive experience for your cat with her favorite treats and plenty of praise. 

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Why Ear Cleaning is Important for Cats

Cats are well-known for their impeccable grooming habits and their ears have a built-in mechanism that enables the ear wax to make its way toward the external ear. Thus, many cats won’t need much ear care assistance from their owners.

However, some are not as impeccable in their grooming or are prone to wax buildup and need regular ear cleaning to help keep their ears clean and prevent infection.

Ear cleaning is likely necessary for cats with ear issues, like ear infections, ear mites, etc. Also, clean ears make it easier to apply any topical medication prescribed by your vet and ensure that it reaches the ear canal.

How often should you clean your cat’s ears?

Ear cleaning sessions are excellent opportunities to check your cat’s ears for any signs that indicate a potential ear issue that should be brought to your vet’s attention. The earlier that an ear problem can be diagnosed and treated, the better will be the chance of a better prognosis. Nipping problems in the bud can reduce the possibility of chronic ear problems and hearing loss. It could also alleviate the pain and discomfort that your cat is suffering from.

When cleaning your cat’s ears, be alert for red flags of ear infection or any potential problems. These signs include:

  • Ear discharge
  • Strong odor from the ear
  • Redness and swelling in the ear canal
  • Excess scratching or pawing of the ears
  • Pain around the ears
  • Abnormal growths in and around the ears

How often ear cleaning should be done will depend on several factors including your cat’s grooming habits, health issues affecting the ears, and the immediate environment.

If you notice there is a buildup of ear wax and/or debris, it’s time to clean your pet’s ears. But if these are accompanied by other signs of infection, it is best to forego cleaning your pet’s ears and have your pet checked by your veterinarian.

Tips for Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears

Prepare everything that you’ll need and arrange each item where you can easily reach it. You will need the following:

  • Cotton or gauze pads
  • An ear cleaning solution that’s formulated specifically for cats
  • Towel or blanket
  • Your cat’s favorite treats

It is highly recommended that you speak with your vet about an ear cleaner that is safe for your cat. Avoid using alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or vinegar as these can only irritate the delicate tissues of your cat’s ears. Applying the wrong ear solution into your cat’s ears could lead to balance problems, hearing loss, and a variety of other issues.

If there is excess hair inside your cat’s ear canal, it is a good idea to have a professional groomer or your vet remove the hair. The hair should be removed gently to avoid pain and discomfort, or your cat won’t allow you to touch her ears again. Light sedation may be needed to remove excessive hair.

  • Start by cleaning the external part of the ear called the ear flap. Any matted hair in the ear flap and around the opening of the ear canal must be detangled or removed. Matted hair on a cat’s ear flap or excessive hair within the ear canal can block the normal airflow that helps keep the ear passages dry. It could also prevent the movement of ear wax and debris toward the external part of the ear, which could pave the way for an infection.
  • Next, apply a few drops of a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaning solution in the ear canal and gently massage the base of the ear for about 5-10 seconds. This is usually the time when your cat starts shaking her head to shake the solution out. When administering the solution, hold the bottle close to your pet’s ear but make sure that the tip doesn’t touch the ear canal. This can help prevent contamination with bacteria and yeast which are common causes of ear infections.
  • Clean any excess liquid using a cotton ball or gauze wrapped around your fingers. Never put anything, even your finger, into your cat’s ear canal.
  • You can offer a bite-size treat to your pet before proceeding to clean the other ear
  • Make sure your cat is calm and relaxed while you are cleaning her ears. A short play session before the ear cleaning session can help burn excess energy.
  • Having somebody to assist you can help make the ear cleaning process easier. This is especially true if your feline friend is not so cool with the idea of having her ears handled and cleaned. Your assistant can hold your furball to keep her from moving while you clean her ears. Wrapping your cat in a towel before you start cleaning her ears may be necessary to keep her still.
  • Tools with sharp tips are never recommended when cleaning the ear canal as they can puncture the eardrum and push ear wax and debris deeper inside the canal. A Q-tip can only be used to clean folds in the ear flap.
  • Before you allow your cat to shake her head, make sure that you don’t get any of the fluid in your eyes and mouth.
  • Make each cleaning session a positive experience for your furball with lots of positive reinforcement, including a bite or two of her favorite treats.
  • Make a habit of checking your pet’s ears for any signs of potential ear problems that need prompt veterinary attention.

Read more:

Examining and Caring for Your Pet’s Ears

10 Cool and Interesting Facts About Your Cat’s Ears

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

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Published: 10/25/2021

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