Cats have sensitive ears that can be susceptible to irritation, infections, and other ear problems if not maintained properly. That being said, healthy indoor cats don’t usually need their ears cleaned unless a veterinarian instructs you to do so. Healthy ears have systems in place to keep the ear both clean and healthy, and cats’ ears usually don’t need cleaning unless you start to notice any visible grime, discharge, or odor. In this article, we’ll provide you with information about when and how often you should clean your cat’s ears, especially if they venture outside.
How Often Should You Clean Your Cat’s Ears?
There is no set schedule for when you should clean your cat’s ears. For most healthy indoor cats, it’s usually not necessary to clean their ears unless instructed by a veterinarian. But if you see dirt or debris, your cat needs to be regularly treated for ear mites, or if the ears are emitting a bad smell, you may need to clean them based on your veterinarian’s instructions.
Ear Problems that Warrant a Veterinarian’s Input
When cleaning your cat’s ears, use a clean rag dipped in warm water and gently wipe away any dirt or debris you see inside the ear canal. Be careful not to push too far into the ear as this can damage the delicate inner ear structures.
Avoid using hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or other harsh chemicals as these can be irritating and painful to your cat’s ears. If you’re inexperienced, avoid using a Q-tip as these can cause damage to your cat’s ears and when used incorrectly will push dirt, grime, and ear wax further down their ear canal. Unless a veterinarian recommends a specific product or medication, only use warm water to clean your cat’s ears.
A Note About Ear Anatomy
Understanding the shape of a cat’s ear can help you understand how to clean it. Your cat’s external ear consists of the ear pinna (or ear flaps) that you normally see and a canal that extends inwards towards your cat’s skull in an “L” shape.
Other Safety Tips for Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears
If you’re not comfortable cleaning your cat’s ears, ask your veterinarian to do it or recommend someone who can. Pet groomers can also help clean your pet’s ears if you are unable to do so.
What Should I Do If My Cat’s Ears Seem Really Dirty?
If your cat’s ears appear to be excessively dirty, it’s best to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause of the problem and proper cleaning regimen. You could be looking at something such as ear mites rather than just dirt. Your veterinarian can diagnose the issue and may recommend a specific cleanser or medication depending on the cause of the ear dirtiness.
What Are Signs of An Ear Infection in Cats?
What Should I Do If My Cat Has an Ear Infection?
If your cat has signs of an ear infection, it’s important to take it to the veterinarian right away. The vet can diagnose the cause of the infection as well as provide treatment options such as specific medications or cleaning regimens that can help clear up the infection and reduce pain and discomfort. It is also important to follow all instructions exactly as prescribed to ensure the infection is completely cleared up.
Does Cleaning My Cat’s Ears Help Prevent Ear Infections?
Products to Help Clean Your Cat’s Ears
Cats are famously good at grooming themselves, but sometimes they need a little extra help. Natural, hypoallergenic wipes like our Hepper Wash Wipes can help you keep your cat clean without causing any irritation. These wipes are specifically designed to work on all ages of cats, gently cleaning sensitive areas while effectively removing dirt and grime.
The Bottom Line?
It won’t harm your cat if you clean their ears every once in a while, but you don’t need to do it without a reason. You certainly don’t need to do it on any kind of regular schedule, and you probably shouldn’t do it more than a few times per year. When in doubt, leave it alone and consult your vet first.