We’ve all seen the way cats rely on their sense of hearing. At the slightest crinkle of paper, those ears swivel to face the source of the sound. And of course, you know your kitty can hear that tin of food crack open, no matter where they are in the house.
Cats have developed their impressive sense of hearing as a means to find and hunt down quiet little critters, and to alert them of predators at the first sound of a twig snapping. While house cats don’t have to worry about catching their next meal, they still depend on their ears to take stock of the world around them.
To keep that powerful hearing in good shape, you need to know how to clean out your kitty’s ears.
Maybe you’ve noticed your cat has been itching at its ear, or perhaps you’ve come across discharge or an odor in the ear canal. Or, maybe you’ve started to recognize some of the common symptoms of ear mites in cats. Either way, read through this guide on how to clean cats’ ears to help your feline friend live its best nine lives.
Do My Cat’s Ears Need to Be Cleaned?
Since cats love to clean themselves (hairball alert!), the amount of ear care needed by your four-legged companion will vary.
Some cats handle their personal ear-cleaning routine better than others, and environmental factors such as humidity and dust levels will also play a part in the equation. As such, the frequency of ear care your indoor kitty requires may differ from that of an outdoor cat.
While it might be tempting to roll up your sleeves and clean every few weeks, over-cleaning can lead to irritation and infection, so it’s essential to do your ear care routine only when necessary. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to clean your kitty’s ears whenever you notice a buildup of dirt, wax, or other matter.
By maintaining the cleanliness of those fuzzy ears, you can help keep infections at bay and avoid any costly vet bills.
The Cleaning Process
Now that we’ve talked about when and why feline ear care is needed, let’s discuss how to clean a cat’s ears out.
This step-by-step guide will help you through the ear-cleaning process.
Step One: Gather Supplies
You don’t need any special tools for feline ear care, but before you have a squirming cat in your lap, it’s best to prepare by gathering up the items from this list:
- Cotton balls or gauze
- An antimicrobial ear rinse
- Treats (to reward your kitty)
- A towel for swaddling (optional)
Step Two: Prep for Cleaning
Before cleaning the inner ear, be sure to take a look at the area around your cat’s ears and remove any excess, matted, or dirty hair from around the ear flap or ear canal. Regular trimmings like this can keep air flowing in and around the ears, making wax buildup less likely in the future.
As you prepare for the cleaning process, be sure you’re patient and gentle with your pet. The extra care will ensure your cat is calm throughout what can be a less-than-pleasant experience for them.
Step Three: Time to Clean!
Seat yourself comfortably, then take your cat onto your lap. If your feline is not a fan of routine ear cleaning, consider wrapping them lightly in a towel to keep the scratching to a minimum.
With one hand, pull the ear flap back slightly to expose the ear canal, and grab your bottle of cleaning solution with the other hand.
Squeeze the bottle, releasing enough fluid to fill the ear canal without it overflowing. Don’t put the tip of the bottle directly into your cat’s ear canal, and if it does make contact with their ear, be sure to clean off the end with alcohol to prevent the spread of bacteria.
With one hand still holding the ear flap, take your other hand and massage below the opening of the ear for approximately 30 seconds. This motion helps to break up any debris in your pet’s ear canal.
Afterward, take a clean cotton ball or some gauze and lightly wipe away any buildup you can see. Do not stuff the cotton ball inside the ear like a Q-tip. Instead, gently wipe what can easily be reached.
At this point, your cat will probably want to shake its head—let them! Shaking will loosen any leftover dirt or wax buildup and allow you to remove any additional debris with the cotton ball or gauze.
With one ear done, it’s time to repeat these steps for the other side. Don’t forget to supply a couple of treats in between for a good kitty!
Keep in mind that this is only a guide for a routine ear cleaning. If you notice redness or inflammation around your cat’s ears even after a thorough cleaning, your best bet is to contact your local veterinarian for advice. Issues such as ear infections or ruptured eardrums should always be handled by an animal care professional.
With that said, these issues are rare in well-cared-for cats, and Vetericyn’s line of ear-cleaning products should do the trick in most situations you’ll encounter. Happy cleaning!
- Texas A&M University. A Cat’s Five Senses. https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/a-cats-five-senses/
- Banfield Pet Hospital. Do I Need to Clean My Cat’s Ears? www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/article-library/everyday-care/do-i-need-to-clean-my-cat-s-ears
- VCA Hospitals. Instructions for Ear Cleaning in Cats. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/instructions-for-ear-cleaning-in-cats