Cleaning your cats ears is not something you should need to do regularly.
Cats are very good about grooming themselves and this includes their ears. If you are going to clean their
ears, however, it is probably easiest to do this while you are bathing or brushing them. Your cat may have
excess ear wax and external dirt just at the base of the ear, this is easily cleaned with a cotton ball
and some hydrogen peroxide. Rub the ear clean gently while you pet your cat.
Things to Look For While Cleaning Cat Ears
It is important that cat owners are aware of some of the things to look for when cleaning their cats ears that
may mean a visit to the Vet. There are a few conditions that can affect the ears that require veterinary
Ear Mites called Otodectes cyanotis are a very common and irritating problem. They have a
life cycle of 21 days from egg to adult and feed off skin flakes and secretions in the ear. Ears in an
infected cat will have dark wax that may resemble dirt. Your cat may scratch and shake its ears and head.
They are easily diagnosed by your Vet who will use an otoscope, just like the one in your doctor’s office.
The mites are seen as small, off-white dots moving on dark wax. Your cat will receive a medicated ear
cleaning and then will be sent home with ear medication in the form of drops.
Ear infections caused by bacteria, yeast and fungus can make your cats ears have
foul-smelling discharge. There may also be excessive scratching and irritation. If these are left without
proper veterinary care they may cause severe damage to the inner ear and even cause loss of balance or
Infections and mites may also require a cytology. Your vet will swab your cats ear and
then stain the sample before reading it beneath a microscope. Different bacteria will be colored and let
your vet know what, exactly, is causing the problem and how best to treat it.
Before discussing how to clean ears, it is important to note that the average pet owner
should not attempt to clean their cats ears with cotton swabs. Stick to cotton balls. Cats don't like to sit
still, they will shake and jerk and using cotton balls prevents the risk that they will accidently rupture
the ear and need emergency treatment.
How to Clean Your Cat's Ears
For a good, thorough ear cleaning, discuss what solution is best for your cat with your vet and begin with a
good general cleaning. Before beginning, decide if you have or want help. If you don’t want help or no one is
around to help you, wrap your cat tightly in a towel with just your cats head exposed. This will keep them from
scratching you or wiggling away. Clear away dirty or matted hair from around the ear. Remember to be gentle as
the parts of the ears, such as ear canals and ear flaps, are very sensitive. Harsh movements and aggressive
cleaning can cause damage. Cleaning can be done in five easy steps.
1. Stand behind your cat so you are not looming over it, lift the ear so it is standing straight up, and
squeeze a few drops of cleanser into the ear
2. Massage it to make sure it gets well into the canal. You should hear it swishing inside.
3. Do the same to the other side
4. Stand back and let your cat shake its head, this will bring softened ear wax up out of the canals.
5. Use clean cotton balls to gently wipe up and out of the canal. You may need to tear the cotton balls
in half. Keep cleaning with a fresh cotton ball until they come up clean.
If any of this seems painful for your cat, the cotton balls turn up off-color (not a normal ear wax color) wax
or you suspect ear mites call your Vet and make an appointment to come in. Make sure you give your cat a treat
for behaving so well (even if they didn’t). This will make them more receptive to the idea next time.
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