Most pet owners are used to giving their dogs a bath, but let their feline friends clean themselves. While this is normally fine, there are a few areas where your cat may need a little assistance to stay clean.
Cats can clean most of their fur by themselves. But, they can’t reach sections like their necks or ears. That’s why any responsible cat owner should make a habit of periodically cleaning their cat’s ears. After all, they accrue wax and dirt over time just like our own ears do.
But how exactly do you clean your cat’s ears without making them uncomfortable or hurting them? The best way to clean your cat's ears gently but effectively is to use pet-specific cleaning wipes like the kind we make at Dr. Brite.
Let's break down how these wipes work and the best ear-cleaning technique you should use.
How To Tell If Your Cat’s Ears Need Cleaning
Any cat owner already knows the truth; our kitties don’t really like to be cleaned, especially when they probably feel that they do a perfectly good job of it themselves. However, cats are also limited by their physiology and can’t capably clean certain areas, like behind their necks and inside or outside their ears (though they do try).
It falls to us, their owners, to take care of these cleaning tasks for them as best as we can. But how can you tell if your cat’s ears need to be cleaned?
It’s pretty simple. To start, take a look at your cat’s ears and check for the following:
- Ear mites
- Discharge, which may appear off-white or yellowish
If you see any of these signs, you should take your cat to the veterinarian instead of trying to clean things yourself. Those signs may be indicative of wider issues. The same is true if your cat shows any signs of pain or discomfort. Talking to an expert is always the best choice in these situations.
However, if you check your cat’s ears and all you see is a little wax, debris, or dirt, you can take care of cleaning their ears for them. Feel free to shine a light at them if you need to, as well – it may make any wax or dirt a little easier to see.
Why Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears is Important
Just like our ears, your cat’s ears are lined with small hairs that aid with auditory sensation and keeping out too much dirt and debris. Your cat’s ears also produce an amount of wax designed to trap dirt and debris from getting too deep into the ear canal.
However, as with our ears, cat ears can occasionally get too much wax or dirt built up over time. This is more likely with cats since they can’t easily clean the insides of their ears without help. We can use cleaning tools to do the job every so often.
If you don’t clean your cat’s ears, they might:
- Suffer from bacterial ear infections
- Get mite infections
- Have trouble hearing
Ultimately, it’s about keeping your cat safe and comfortable. So let’s get into what you should do to clean their ears.
Dr. Brite’s Pet Pure Cleansing Wipes
One tool you’ll need is a powerful but gentle cleaning solution. Your cat’s ears are sensitive, especially on the inside. As with human ears, you really shouldn't try to dig too deep and get rid of wax and dirt all the way down. Not only is this uncomfortable, but it's also dangerous and could lead to serious pain or injury.
The best cleaning solution for cat ears is a wipe, and specifically one soaked in a gentle but effective solution. That’s why we made our Pet Pure Cleansing Wipes.
These effective cleansing wipes are ideal for cleaning both cats and dogs, even if they’re furrier than average. The wipes are alcohol-free and use a sulfate-free formula of a variety of ingredients including aloe vera, coconut oil, witch hazel, castile soap, vitamin E, and more.
Castile soap (which we also make right here at Dr. Brite) is a perfect cleansing solution for furry friends. That’s because it's a soap derived from vegetable oil instead of harsh or astringent ingredients. You can use castile soap as a pet cleanser in general since it won't harm them if they ingest a little bit after licking their fur.
Ultimately, our Cleansing Wipes are designed to be thoroughly cleaning without irritating your cat’s skin or fur, especially for very long. This makes them the perfect cleansing solution for wiping down any sensitive part of your pet’s body, like their ears.
How to Clean Your Cat’s Ears
Now let’s break down exactly how you should clean your cat’s ears.
Step One: Hold Your Cat Comfortably
First, get the materials you’ll need to clean your cat’s ears. This includes:
- Cleansing wipes – like our Pet Pure Wipes
- A dry towel or blanket – some people like to wrap their cats in towels to keep them snug and secure as they clean their heads
- Treats – you may need these to keep your cat occupied or content as you clean their ears
- Gauze – this is what you’ll use to dry your cat’s ears
The best way to start is to make things comfortable from the get-go. Depending on your cat’s personality and temperament, they may be quite the content lap cat, or they may be more fidgety and difficult to keep still. Regardless, begin by positioning your cat in your lap and giving them a good pet. This calms them down and prepares them for a bit of grooming.
If necessary, don’t hesitate to have another person with you to keep your cat in place or distracted using a toy or treat.
Step Two: Wipe the Outside and Inside of Your Cat’s Ears
Once your kitty is comfortable and secure, you can start by using your cleansing wipes (alternatively, you can use gauze soaked with a pet-friendly cleansing solution – ask a veterinarian to make sure that you use something that isn't dangerous or that may cause deafness).
Take your wipe and begin by wiping down the outside of your cat's ears. Do this thoroughly so you can get rid of any surface-level dirt and debris, as well as stray hairs. Your cat likely probably does a decent job of this by themselves already, but it's still a good idea to go over it again.
Next, use a fresh wipe (never use the same wipe that you use on the outside since it’s probably lined with dirt and fur by now) and gently rub the inside of your cat’s ears.
Don’t go too far or too deep when doing this. You only need to scrape away wax and dirt on the easily visible surface of their ears’ interior. Your cat’s ears may twitch as you do this – don’t rush things. Instead, just do light scrapes again and again. The wipe should come away with dirt and wax.
Step Three: Dry Your Cat’s Ears if Necessary With Gauze
After cleaning both of your cat’s ears, you should take some gauze pads or balls and dry their insides. This will happen normally on its own, but you’ll make things more comfortable for your kitty if you dry them right away. Cats generally don’t like feeling wet anywhere.
Step Four: Give Them a Treat!
We’dalways recommend giving your cat one or more treats, at least after cleaning their ears thoroughly. You can also give them treats periodically throughout the cleaning session in order to keep them still and content.
There's a more long-term reason for this strategy as well: it connects receiving a treat with sitting and getting their ears cleaned. If you do this enough times, your cat will start to associate getting their ears cleaned with receiving a treat, making it more likely that your kitty will sit still and be pleased to get its ears cleaned.
This creates a positive cycle and allows you to stay on top of your cat’s ear cleanliness without having to struggle or convince your cat to sit still and let you clean them every time.
As you can see, cleaning your cat’s ears with our cleansing wipes is easy and produces positive results, though you need to be careful not to be too harsh or rough while cleaning. We’d also recommend speaking to your veterinarian during your cat’s yearly visit – you can explain your technique and ask them if they have any other strategies or recommendations.
Ultimately, cleaning your cat’s ears will go a long way toward ensuring their long-term health and helping them be as happy and healthy as possible. Check out our other pet care products for cleaning solutions for their teeth and breath, too!
1. What can I use to clean my cats ears?
Use gauze to clean, wipe, and dry the inside of your cat's ears. Most human pharmacies sell gauze squares. Additionally, cotton balls, cotton makeup rounds, or even a tissue can be used. Cotton swabs should never be used to clean your cat's ears, since they can damage their eardrums.
2. What home remedy can I use to clean my cat's ears?
Bring the container of olive oil or ear cleaner to body temperature by placing it in a heated (not boiling) pan of water. A drop or two of the liquid (either olive oil or a commercial ear cleaner) should be inserted into the circular entrance of the ear canal. Gently massage the base of the ear for at least a minute to ensure even distribution of the liquid.
3. Can I put peroxide in my cats ear?
You should never wipe your cat's ears with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide - these substances are just not good for them. Additionally, never put cotton-tipped swabs into a cat's ear at home. Dirt and wax are easily pushed farther into the ear canal in this manner.
4. Do cat ear infections go away on their own?
While outdoor cats and kittens are more susceptible to ear infections, even older indoor cats can suffer from this bothersome problem. It is important to be familiar with the symptoms of ear infections since they are unpleasant and don't resolve on their own.
5. Can I use olive oil to clean my cat's ears?
If your pet's ears are red, have an unpleasant odor, or if he is scratching or shaking his head, you should take him to the veterinarian. Various oils, such as olive oil, mineral oil, and coconut oil, are fairly safe to use, and olive oil has been shown to kill ear mites by covering them, although the treatment takes several weeks to work.