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Why Does My Cat Lick My Ear? (3 Possible Reasons)

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

cat licking woman's ear

Cats are curious creatures. It is hard to tell what they are thinking, and it is almost impossible to get them to do what you want them to do. Some cats are calm and sweet, while others are loud and playful. No matter the differences in their personalities, most cats love to lick their owners’ ears. There are three possible reasons for this behavior. Let’s explore them here.

They Want to Get at Your Earwax

It seems gross, but cats are attracted to our earwax, and many will try to lick or eat it if they can get to it. Some cats will even seek out used Q-tips to eat the earwax that was left behind on them. The reason for this is that earwax is made up of proteins, like dead skin cells, that emit the same scent that animal proteins do. Therefore, cats think that earwax is food. Earwax is not dangerous to cats, so there is no need for alarm if you catch your cat with an old Q-tip or they seem attracted to your ears.

However, there is no reason to encourage your cat to eat earwax, as they should consume real food as their source of nutrition. If it bothers you when your cat licks your ears, you can try cleaning them out more often to see if that reduces their attraction to your cat. Redirecting your cat’s focus with games and treats is an effective way to keep your cat from licking your ears while accommodating their desire for protein.

cat licking woman's ear
Image Credit: NivCube, Shutterstock

They Are Trying to Groom You

Another reason your cat likes to lick your ears is that they are trying to groom you as they would other cats within their group. Grooming is an instinct for cats and some take the task seriously. So, even if your ears are nice and clean, your cat may want to get in there and do more cleaning for you. If your cat is licking your ears to groom you, they may nibble at the lobes a bit during the process. This should not hurt but it can be annoying.

They Want to Bond With You

One more reason that your cat might lick your ears occasionally is to bond. Cats lick each other to bond in their groups, whether they are familiar with each other or not. They will do the same with human family members in their household, especially if no other cats live in the home. Your cat may purr while they lick your ears to bond, and they may not stop at your ears.

Cats that like to lick for bonding purposes are not typically picky when it comes to where they lick. They might lick your eyes, cheeks, neck, arms, or legs during a bonding session. If you don’t mind the licking, you can enhance your bonding session by petting your cat while they lick you.


The main reason that cats lick ears is to get the earwax that they are so attracted to. Luckily, there is nothing to worry about if your cat gets a hold of some. Even if there is no earwax to go after, your cat might want to lick your ears for grooming purposes or to better bond with you. No matter the reason for the licking, if you don’t like it, you can use training, a clicker, and/or treats to correct the behavior so you don’t end up having to fight your cat off every time you sit down on the couch.

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Featured Image Credit: AJR_photo, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is a lover of animals of all sizes but is especially fascinated with the feline variety. She’s the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese, and works every day so he can relax in the sunshine or by the fire. She’s always had a cat in her home and has spent countless days with others, observing behaviors and softening up even the grouchiest of the lot. Nicole wants to share her kitty expertise with you so you and your cat ...Read more

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