Cats ears

Key takeaway

Ear infections can be caused by a number of issues, including: over-cleaning, inflammation and infections. Knowing when to handle cleaning your cat’s ears at-home or when to visit a vet is important for your cat’s ear health.

Whether it's keeping up with a daily routine or knowing when there may be an infection or cause for concern, there are several ways to make sure your feline pal’s ears are kept clean and healthy. Cleaning your cat’s ears at home does not require you to buy a fancy machine or invest in an expensive cleaner.

The supplies are minimal and most likely consist of items that you may already have lying around the house. All you need is a trusted and good-quality ear cleaning solution, a towel, and gauze or cotton pads. Want to take the ear-cleaning practice to the next level? Have a stash of treats on standby.

Learn how to best care for your cat’s ears and when to address any potential concerns that may require a necessary visit to the vet.

Why Should You Clean A Cat’s Ears?

Cleaning a cat’s ears may seem like a daunting or intimidating task, but ensuring that our cats’ ears are healthy can minimize the number of infections and other more serious issues.

Without our help, the shape of a cat’s ear canal makes it difficult for the body to self-regulate and clear out any debris that could be trapped in the canal. As it would not be comfortable for a human to have materials stuck in their ear canal, the same concept applies to our pets. Leaving debris that is stuck in their ears can lead to ear infections if they are kept inside.

Cat ear structure

Do All Cats Need Their Ears Cleaned?

The simple answer is no. As mentioned, cats are self-sufficient when it comes to their grooming habits, and usually take care of these needs. It is encouraged that cat owners clean their cat’s ears if there is discharge or smell that is apparent when looking at the ear. However, too much of anything can be harmful, even cleaning.

If a cat owner has taken it upon themselves to continuously clean their pet’s ears without a necessary cause, over-cleaning can lead to irritation and an ear infection in the ear canal. If you notice that your cat’s ears are swollen or red, consult with a veterinarian prior to cleaning.

Signs You Should Clean Your Cat’s Ears

As part of your weekly care routine for your cat, try constantly checking their ears for any sign of swollenness, irritation, or redness. If you notice any of these symptoms, at-home cleaning may be more harmful than helpful at this point.

A visit to the vet is a better solution for caring for the potential infection. Though, if you notice some ear wax or dirt during your routine inspection, at-home cleaning is a simple, yet effective way to ensure your cat’s ears are healthy.

Cat Ear Cleaning Supplies

Cat ear cleaning supplies graphic also listed below

  • Ear Cleaning Solution – Using only water or a soft soap will not help in this case. Finding a good ear cleaning solution will make sure that you are treating your cat with the appropriate option and avoiding the possibility of causing more harm. Make sure to check in with a vet on which solution they recommend.
  • A Towel – There are a couple of ways that you can use a towel to make the at-home ear-cleaning process smoother. To help with the possibility that your feline might try to scurry off, wrapping them up in a towel – with the option to slightly move – will keep them in place. Having a towel nearby will also make the clean-up process easier on you when your cat tries to shake the solution out of their ears.
  • Gauze or Cotton Pads – Similar to the towel, having a gauze pad will help clean out and dry the inside of your cat’s ears. Using gauze or cotton pads can help you reach some of the difficult nooks and crannies of your cat’s ear without damaging their eardrums or pushing debris further into the ear canal.
  • Treats – Who doesn't love getting treats after something uncomfortable like getting their ears cleaned? Having treats on standby will not only calm your cat during the process, but it can also distract them from the cleaning itself. After you are done cleaning your cat’s ears, a few extra treats to reward your cat can help them positively associate with the process.

How to Clean A Cat’s Ears

If you have inspected your cat’s ears and did not notice any signs of potential infections or major irritation, then you are set to get started on cleaning your cat’s ears. Naturally, your cat might be apprehensive as to why you are digging into their ears with a foreign object, but they will become familiar with the process over time.

Use a towel to help hold your cat if they are anxious

By using the appropriate supplies, coupled with a lot of patience, and approaching the process with gentleness, keeping your cat’s ears clean at home will be a routine task with hopefully minimal opposition.

  1. Before diving right into the cleaning process, it is important to make sure that you are checking if there is a possible cause for concern or infection. If you notice that your cat’s ears are red or inflamed, or you see bumps or irritation, it might be best to skip the at-home cleaning process and consult a vet. If your cat is in the clear with a minor build-up of wax or debris, it is time to get to cleaning.
  2. Gently pull back their ear flap. From there, use one hand to hold back the ear and the other to hold the bottle of ear cleaning solution.
  3. When placing the solution in the cat’s ear, it is important to make sure that the bottle tip does not go inside the ear. If your bottle tip happens to touch your cat’s ear, make sure to thoroughly clean the tip before using it as this could lead to further spreading of the infection.
  4. Once your bottle placement has been set, read the instructions on the bottle to understand how many drops are required. From there, place a few drops of cleaner in the ear and massage the outside of their ear, to make sure the cleaner is moving through all canals of the ear. It may seem silly, but massaging the cleaner throughout the ear allows the cleaner to break down any dirt or debris, making it easier to get it out.
  5. Do not be alarmed if you notice that your cat is trying to shake out the cleaner once you drop it in. This is why you should have a towel nearby. Once your cat tries to get rid of the cleaner by shaking their ears, use the towel to wipe up any excess drops or cleaner.
  6. Using either a cotton pad or gauze square, wipe and clear any wax or debris from your cat’s ear. It is critical that you do not use a cotton swab or finger to clean out the ear canal, as this can damage the eardrum or push debris further into the ear canal.
  7. Move on and follow the process on the other ear if your cat seems to be calm enough.

Final Notes

We like to think that we are able to best care for our beloved fur friend, though sometimes there are instances where taking a visit to the vet might be the best option. That’s where Dutch comes into play. With Dutch, we offer telemedicine for pets in a simple way. You can contact a licensed veterinarian right from the comfort of your own home and get the necessary treatment for your pet, right to your door.

As easy as it may be to assume that our cat has their grooming under control, it may be time to use Dutch as your platform to contact a vet if there are other related health concerns.

References

  1. “Cat Ear Care and Cleaning.” Purina, https://www.purina.eu/cats/health-and-nutrition/symptoms-to-watch-out-for/cleaning-a-cats-ears.

  2. Jennifer Grota, DVM. “How to Clean a Cat's Ears.” PetMD, PetMD, 10 Jan. 2022, https://www.petmd.com/cat/grooming/evr_ct_how-to-clean-a-cats-ears.

  3. Jung, Helin. “All Ears: Do Your Cat's Need a Good Cleaning?” · The Wildest, 7 July 2021, https://www.thewildest.com/cat-health/cat-ear-cleaning.