Are Your Cat’s Ears Clean?
26 August, 2013

Have you ever taken a look inside your cat’s ears?  Somehow, even though they stick straight up and are cute to look at, we cat owners sometimes miss checking inside the ears!  (I am definitely guilty of this.)  Just as in dog or kids, we need to make sure our cats’ ears are clean.  If they are dark or dirty, it might simply be dirt.  But, it could also be a sign of something more serious.  Below are some tips to help you in both regards.

Many cats clean their ears on their own

Many cats are great self-groomers and rarely need ear care while others should have routine cleanings. If you notice wax, dirt or other debris, then it is probably time for a cleaning. For those cats that need it, cleaning and caring for your cat’s ears are important ways to reduce the chance for ear infections and excess waxy buildup. Routine cleaning and merely looking into your cat’s ears will help you detect any infections or other problems early.

If your cat looks like he or she could have an ear issues, go to the vet

If you think that your cat already has an ear problem, visit your veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment offers a better idea of what is occurring, reduces the potential for chronic disease, hearing loss and gives earlier relief for any discomfort your cat might have. Any discharge, odor, excess scratching, pawing or rubbing at the ears, redness, pain, swelling or masses may indicate an infection or other abnormality.

Choose a mild ear cleaner

To clean normal cat ears, choose a mild ear cleaner specifically made for cats.   Don’t use vinegar, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide routinely. These substances can be irritating to some cats and painful to an already inflamed ear canal. There are several types of cleaners to choose from. Some cleaners break up wax, while others dry the ear canal. There are combination products as well. Consult your veterinarian or a professional groomer for the best options for your cat.

Remove matted hair around the ear

First, try to remove excess, dirty or matted hair from around the ear canal and the ear flap. Heavy, matted or constantly moist surrounding hair will decrease air flow to the ear canal, trap wax and other debris, and can lead to infection. After grooming the ear area, it is time to actually clean out the ear canals. Always be gentle! The ear canals and flaps are sensitive.

Place a couple drops in the ear

Place a few drops of the ear cleaning solution into the ear. The solution should flow down deep into the canal. Massage gently at the ear base for a few seconds and you will hear the solution being mixed around as you massage your kitty. This should not be painful for your cat. If it is painful for your cat, stop cleaning immediately and take your cat to the vet.  If all is well, repeat the procedure on the other ear.

Let your cat shake the stuff out

After massaging, your cat will instinctively shake his or her head and softened wax will come up out of the ear canals. Use clean cotton balls to gently wipe out and up the canal, removing any wax, debris or cleaning solution you see.  Try to avoid cotton swabs as your cat will be very still and allow ear care without moving the head. Even in that case, never place the swab any farther into the ear canal than you can see. A cotton swab placed too deeply or forcefully into the ear can cause ear drum damage, pain and hearing loss.

And, there you have it!  Your kitty will now have clean ears.  If after cleaning your cat’s ears, there continues to be dirt or wax or anything suspect, make sure to see your Veterinarian.

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