Cats are known for being pretty good at keeping themselves clean and tidy, and their ears are no exception. Most cats won’t need their ears cleaned often, if at all, but there are some specific times where your cat may benefit from an ear cleaning and you must know how to clean cats ears.
Veterinarians can clean your pet’s ears but knowing how to clean cat’s ears at home can save you and your cat some stress and money. If your cat is not a fan of leaving the house, cleaning their ears at home remedies for alopecia is a good option that doesn’t require many supplies.
When and How to Clean Cats Ears
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Cat ears are relatively self-sufficient and able to keep themselves clean in most situations because they have a built-in cleaning system. Wax from the cat's inner part of the ear moves outward until it is in the outer ear canal where it picks up any dirt or debris that might be present or trying to make its way into the ear.
Cat ears also have a bit of fur in them to prevent larger debris, bugs, and other material from getting in. These fine hairs allow the wax to flow freely around their base, and the cats can clean the wax away easily through their regular grooming.
Because many cats do not frequently have ear issues, cleaning cat's ears is commonly overlooked by cat owners until there is an issue that requires ear cleaning. Cat ears are incredibly sensitive and are composed of three major sections: the inner ear, the outer ear, and the middle ear.
The Outer Ear
The Outer ear is the part of the cat’s ear that you can see and includes two structures. The first is the pinna which is the part mainly referred to as the "ear" of the cat and is the triangular part that stands up straight on your cat's head.
The other structure is the ear canal, which can have ridges or wrinkles and may have some fine hairs as well. The ear canal for each cat will look slightly different, but they all lead to the inner parts of the ear that are very sensitive and need protection.
The Middle Ear
The middle part of the ear is more complicated and includes the eardrum and bones that aid the cat in hearing. The inner ear is also home to a tube that connects the nose to the ears and allows air to flow between them.
The middle ear is also very sensitive, and damage to this area can lead to changes in balance and loss of hearing in your cat. While some injuries to the middle ear can heal, other injuries result in permanent damage.
The Inner Ear
The inner ear is the most sensitive part of the cat’s ear and is also responsible for hearing and balance. Cats are well known for their acrobatic movements, and this part of the ear is mainly responsible for their ability to perform such feats.
The inner ear is primarily out of sight, much like the middle part of the ear. Sounds that transmit through the middle ear cause vibrations that transfer to the inner ear. Damage to this part of your cat's ear can also cause changes in hearing and balance much like damage to the middle ear.
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Ear Problems in Cats
Many things can affect the ears of your cat, and routine ear inspections can help you catch these issues early on. Inspecting your cat's ears each week for signs of infections, mites, allergies, and other maladies can help prevent your fleas on cats from experiencing unnecessary discomfort, and damage to their ears.
If you see a lot of wax or other debris in your cat’s ear, it may be worth cleaning them out. If there are any strange symptoms such as blood blisters, inflammation, or your cat is shaking their head excessively, it may be time to call your vet.
Your cat may also scratch excessively at their ears, and their ears may appear red or warmer to the touch than usual. There may also be more wax present or a darker-brown residue inside the outer ear canal.
These symptoms can mean that your cat may be suffering from conditions such as ear mites, fungal infections, yeast infections, bacterial infections, or allergies and you should consult your vet. If your cat's ears do not have these symptoms, then regular cleaning is sufficient.
Your cat may need a trip to the vet if they display some of the warning signs that they may have an ear infection or issue. These signs can include:
- Bad or unusual odor from their ears
- Missing hair on the ears
- Dark and crumbly debris that is something other than dirt inside their ears
- Your cat shows discomfort in having their ears touched
Additionally, if your cat is excessively home remedies for anorexia, yawning, head shaking, scratching at their ears or if there are large amounts of earwax in the ear canal, you'll want to get them seen by a vet soon. While these behaviors can be typical to some extent, your cat performing them too frequently can lead to ear damage, missing fur, and other issues
How to Clean a Cat’s Ears
Cleaning your cat's ears should be part of a routine, but if it's not, you can start helping your cat create a positive association with getting their ears cleaned at any age. Making the process positive through the use of treats and patience will allow you to safely clean your cat's ears without them putting up a fight.
Before getting started, gather the needed supplies and read through all of the steps on how to clean cat’s ears. For this process you’ll want to have:
- Ear cleaning solution
- Cotton balls
- Cotton swabs
- A towel
You'll want to attempt cleaning your cat's ears when they are relatively calm and relaxed. Other stressful activities such as nail trimming should be set aside for a different day.
Gently hold your cat using a towel if needed and allow them time to relax and settle. Carefully hold the tip of the cat's ear and move it upwards so that you can see the inner part of the ear. Your cat may try to escape so readjust the towel as needed.
Examine your cats ear thoroughly and note the amount of wax, debris, and any redness and inflammation. There shouldn’t be anything other than some light-brown wax, and there also shouldn’t be any odor.
Dribble a bit of ear cleaner into your cat’s ear until the ear canal is almost full, but not overflowing. Gently massage the cat's ear with your hand for 5-10 seconds. At this point, you'll want to use the cotton balls and swabs to begin cleaning the outer ear.
If your cat is particularly squirmy, we recommend avoiding the use of cotton swabs to minimize any risk of damage to the cat’s ears. Wiping the visible part of the ear with whole or half sized cotton balls should work well.
If there is a significant amount of debris, you may need to repeat the cleaning steps with more ear cleaner. If the ear appears relatively clean, you can move to the other ear and repeat the process.
After the cleaning, your cat may shake their head to help clear away extra cleaning solution and debris that you were unable to get with the cotton balls or swabs. This temporary shaking is fine, but if it persists, you'll want to contact your vet.
Cats can suffer from ear mites which can cause them to shake their head, scratch frequently at their ears, and can ultimately lead to infections. If your cat displays these behaviors for much longer than usual, or for an extended period after having their ears cleaned, you'll want to contact your vet.
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Tips and Tricks
Figuring out how to clean cat’s ears can be a relatively quick process with a cooperative cat. However, if your cat is not cooperative, it can take some additional time and patience. Here are our tips for making the process quick, and painless for both of you.
Using treats that are new to your cat and high value can help create a positive association with ear cleaning more quickly than with treats they are familiar with.
Use a high-quality ear cleaner that doesn't contain drying ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. Your vet can likely suggest good options to try.
Wrapping your cat in a towel can help them feel safe and protect you from being scratched. If your cat seems particularly upset by ear cleaning a more gradual introduction might be needed before a full cleaning can take place.
You may also want to consider employing the help of a second person when you clean your cat's ears. Cats will generally wish to squirm during this process, especially if it is new to them, and it is safest for you both if they remain still.
Once you have completed the cleaning, your cat will shake their head to rid their ears of the debris and leftover solution. Make sure to close your eyes and mouth, and you may also want to use the towel as a shield to prevent debris from spreading as your cat shakes off.