How to Keep Your Cat’s Ears Clean and Why You Should
Cats, for the most part, groom themselves, so for many cat owners, grooming isn’t something that comes to mind when they think of regular cat care. But cleaning your cat’s ears may be one aspect of the grooming process you want to reconsider. Here’s why it’s so important and how you can do it yourself!
Why Do My Cat’s Ears Need to Be Cleaned?
Cats generally do a good job of cleaning their own ears, but sometimes they need help. Older cats have trouble reaching certain spots of their body, which may include the top of their head, so the assistance can be appreciated. Other cats may not have learned proper grooming as kittens and could neglect to clean their ears. Some kitties need extra assistance with ear cleaning if they suffer from ear problems.
Even if your cat is young, healthy, and has no problem grooming, checking her ears and doing the occasional clean can help you spot issues before they come serious and prevent others from occurring.
What to Look for While Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears
Cleaning your cat’s ears is an excellent opportunity to check that they are in good health. If you notice any problems or anything unusual, call your veterinarian right away.
These are some things you should be on the lookout for:
- Ear pain
- Scratching or irritation
- Odd smells
- Masses around the ear
- Excessive head shaking
- Ear obstructions
- Scabs around the ear
These signs and symptoms could point to issues like ear mites, an ear infection, or something else. Your vet can diagnose and treat the issue.
How Often to Clean Your Cat’s Ears
Unless your vet recommends doing it more or less frequently, you can tackle this task about once a month.
What You Need to Clean Cat Ears
You don’t need much to clean your cat’s ears!
- Cat ear-cleaning solution as recommended by your veterinarian – You can purchase this through your veterinarian or at a pet store. It should be stored at room temperature.
- Cotton balls – Have these ready if you plan to clean the outside of your cat’s ears.
- A towel – This is useful to wrap your pet in, so he’s more comfortable with the process. Alternatively, you can recruit a second person to hold your cat still.
- Treats – These are never a bad idea!
Vet Tip: Never use Q-tips® on the inside of your cat’s ears. Just like for humans, they can cause more issues for your cat or damage his eardrum.
How to Clean Your Cat’s Ears
Cleaning your furry friend’s ears can be a quick process, but it’s a good idea to do it while he’s sleepy or feeling extra affectionate. Many animals are not fans of having their ear’s touched, and cats are no exception.
The environment where you do it should be quiet and away from other animals and disturbances, like noisy children.
When you’re ready to get started, here is how to approach this task:
Make Sure You Need to Clean the Ear
First, check if your cat’s ears are in need of cleaning. You don’t need any supplies for this: Just hold the tip of the ear, and turn the ear flap so you can see into the ear canal. Pale pink is the sign of a clean ear. If you see earwax, debris, or dirt, it may be time to apply cleaner.
Hold Your Cat Still
Whether with a helper or a towel, it’s important to hold your cat still before you get started. Don’t grip too tightly, as this could cause stress. Instead, lightly hold him down or wrap him tightly—like a burrito—in the towel to prevent escape and ensure he remains still.
If your cat is visibly uncomfortable or fighting, try another time.
Apply the Ear Cleaner, and Massage The Ear
Once your cat is settled, it’s time to apply the ear cleaner. Do one ear at a time, follow the directions on the cleaning solution, and always use the recommended dose. Once the ear drops are in, gently massage your cat’s ear for about 30 seconds.
Close Your Mouth!
When you’ve finished cleaning your cat’s ears, let him go, and close your mouth and eyes. Cats tend to shake when they’re released. You don’t want any of the cleaner getting in your eyes or mouth!
Clean His Outer Ears
After you’ve applied the droplets, it’s time to clean the outside of your feline’s ears. You may want to complete this task right after applying your cat’s internal cleaner or at another time altogether. It depends on how your cat handled the first steps of the process.
Using a cotton ball, gently clean your cat’s ears, pulling away any debris, dirt, and ear wax.
Give Him Treats
After a job well done, treats are always deserved. This positive encouragement can make the next ear cleaning much easier as your cat starts to associate it with treats.
Why You May Want to Take Your Cat to a Professional Groomer
While grooming your cat’s ears is generally a simple process, you may want to consider taking him to a professional groomer instead. Schedule an appointment if your cat:
- Has had serious problems with ear mites, ear infections, or other ear-related issues in the past
- Has the tendency to not groom himself
- Displays skin or fur problems
- Gets violent or visibly stressed during the ear-cleaning process
Professional groomers are trained to look for health problems, even in your cat’s ears. They’re also comfortable working with cats that are anxious or stressed and know how to soothe them. If your furry friend doesn’t enjoy ear-cleaning sessions with you, you don’t want them associating that fear and stress with your company.
Cats are generally great self-groomers, but sometimes they need a bit of assistance. If you’d rather not tackle this grooming process yourself, get in touch with one of Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospitals professional groomers! Each is trained to care for your pet, look for potential health problems, and send him home to you looking his best. Call 281-693-7387 to schedule an appointment.