Care & Health

A Guide to Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears

As animals that are naturally inclined to keep themselves clean, cats are usually great for keeping their fur, paws, and ears clean. However, as the cat’s caretaker, you have a responsibility to observe and examine your cat’s ears, and to clean them if necessary.

Not only does this routine grooming help bring you and your cat closer, it can also help you pick out abnormalities at the right time and receive the appropriate treatment.


Getting everything ready

Before you get started in the process of cleaning your kitten’s ears, make sure you have a couple of things in order so you don’t have to stop the process halfway through.
Buying an effective cat ear cleaner
The first and most important thing that you will need to make sure of is that you have an effective, safe, and healthy cat ear cleaner nearby. You can purchase these cleaners at your vet’s, or at any well-known pet store.

Before you are purchasing any ear cleaner, get the green light from your vet. Take care to check what the ingredients are, and it isn’t anything that will harm the cat in any way. Keep some pointers in mind while doing this:

  • Only a cat ear cleaner that has been approved by your vet.
  • Do NOT use water as it can sit inside your cat’s ears and cause infections.
  • Use a quick drying agent or swab a cotton bud with olive oil to clean.

Choosing a nice, quiet room

The next step of the preparation of your cat’s ear inspection will be to take your cat in a quiet room with little disturbance. If you have any other pets, keep them out of the way and make sure that there is little disturbance as your cat may already be fidgety and not willing to go through with this.

Inspecting your cat’s ears

Now that you have all the things you need to clean your cat’s ears, it is time for you to inspect the cat’s ears. This will help you determine whether or not cleaning will be required for your cat.

Pick the right time

Although some cats may be amenable to being picked up and examined, your cat may object and be fidgety. This is why the best course of action is to start the examination when your cat is tired, sleepy, or relaxed. A playful kitten may be overly excited whereas an agitated one might just start scratching or biting. Make sure that if you are holding him or her, keep your grip loose so the cat doesn’t get alarmed.

Examining the ear

First of all, bring the cat closer to a light source, and hold him or her. Now, hold onto the cat’s outer ear gently. Pull it outwards and turn it inside-out so you can see into the ear. You will not be able to see the inside of the cat’s ears, but you can still examine the outer ear.

What to look out for

If you’re not sure if your cat’s ears are clean, look out for the following things:

  • Accumulated ear wax: some level of earwax is produced by cats normally, but too much of it can be an indication of a problem and so should be addressed with a vet.
  • Black or brown debris, which also needs to be taken to the vet immediately.
  • Any other abnormality, such as discharge or any lesions, etc.

A clean cat’s ears will be pink and will have none of the things mentioned above. If there is some ear wax, you can clean it out using the procedure outlined in the next few headings.

Cat ear cleaning

To clean the cat’s ears, take your cat into an isolated room near a light source, and first and foremost, examine the ears carefully. Now, you can start by folding your cat’s ears back as explained before and make sure everything is fine.

Using the ear cleaner

Read through the label on the cat ear cleaner, and follow the instructions carefully. As directed, place drops of the cleaner into your cat’s ear, and then massage the bottom of his or her ear. Do not, in any situation, add more or fewer drops than recommended. Now, wait for 2 to 3 minutes. You can also allow the cat to shake its head to better move the cleaner into the ear canal.

Cleaning the ear

Use a ball of cotton to swab your cat’s outer ear and move the dirt and wax away from the ear canal. Do not push the swab too far down as this may cause damage to the internal structure of the cat’s ears. If you are concerned about dirt in the canal of the cat’s ear, take the cat to the vet and have him or her cleaned by a professional.

Only do this using a swab, and do not use q-tips as they could hurt the cat instead of helping. Make sure that you only clean the outer ear area, as otherwise, if you push down, this may cause rupturing of the cat’s ears. If the cat seems to show any signs of pain during the procedure, immediately take her to the vet.

After the cleaning

The process of grooming was probably not a happy one for your cat, so give him or her some love, encouragement, and maybe even some treats. This will help your cat understand that you still love it and the next time you try cleaning, they may not put up such a fight. With repeated behaviors, your cat will eventually learn that this behavior will not hurt it in any way and might just become more amenable to it.

When should I clean my cat’s ears?

It is a good idea to get your cat’s ears cleaned or clean them out yourself regularly. This helps keep your cat clean, and will also keep you on the lookout for any change to the cat’s health regarding the ears. If you examine your cat’s ears and find them to be clean, you do not need to clean them yourself – this means that the cat is grooming itself effectively and does not require any further help while doing so.

The red flags

This is a list of red flags – if you see any sign of these, your cat may be unwell. In such a case, take him or her to the vet immediately and make sure the ears are examined and treated appropriately.

  • Bleeding before or after cleaning ears.
  • Constant scratching and rubbing of the ears.
  • Black or brown discharge or residue.
  • Constant shaking or tilting of the head.
  • Impacted balance.
  • Redness or swelling in the ear.
  • A strange or unpleasant smell in the area.
  • Loss of hearing.

In this case, the vet may also give you some medication to place into the cat’s ears at home. To do so, follow the vet’s instructions completely and do not make any alterations without discussing with the vet first.

At the end of the day, although most cats are good cleaners and stay up to date with their grooming, they may need some help every now and then. That, along with regular examination, can help prevent the contraction of ear-related diseases and other problems for your cat.

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