Dirty ears can lead to an infection. An infection, in turn, will bring discomfort to your cat. Worse, it can lead to hearing loss.
Many cats are good at cleaning themselves and rarely need ear cleaning. But they still need ear cleaning every now and then.
Cats who are not diligent with their grooming though needs all the help to maintain clean ears.
Routine ear cleaning is necessary to ward off infection.
“Depending on your cat’s grooming habits and environment, the need for ear cleaning may vary,” says Banfield Pet Hospital in “Do I need to Clean My Cat’s Ears?”
If you see wax, dirt, or other debris, then it is probably time for a cleaning.
“Periodic cleanings and regular at-home examinations will allow you to detect ear issues early, allowing for timelier treatment options. If you suspect your cat may have an ear problem, request an appointment with your local veterinarian immediately,” Banfield says.
“Prompt treatment often offers a better prognosis, can reduce the potential for chronic disease and hearing loss, and may also provide earlier relief for any discomfort your cat may be experiencing,” Banfield adds.
Symptoms of an ear infection
You are your cat’s first line of defense in detecting anything abnormal about your cat’s behavior or physical health.
Here are the signs of infection:
• Ear discharge
• Odor around the ear
• Excess scratching, pawing or rubbing at the ears
• Redness in the ear canal
• Sensitivity or pain around the ears
• Ear swelling
• Masses around the ear area
Periodic cleaning when you notice excess buildup in your cat’s ears is the best way to avoid a painful infection or disease.
For normal or healthy ears, choose a mild ear cleaner designed for use on pets, Banfield says.
Please avoid vinegar, alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide as these can irritate the skin of some cats and cab be painful to an inflamed ear canal.
Ask your vet for the best option as there are ear cleaners that break up wax while others are supposed to dry the ear canal.
You may get a product designed to do a bit of both..
How to clean the ears
1. Do start with a good general grooming.
2. Remove excess, dirty, or matted hair from around the ear canal and the ear flap.
“Heavy, matted, moist ear flaps, surrounding hair, and excessively hairy ear canals will decrease airflow to the ear canal, making it possible for wax and other debris to build up, potentially leading to infection,” Banfield says.
3. Be gentle when removing excess hair to avoid damaging the ear canal and minimize discomfort to your cat.
“Consider having a professional groomer or medical professional remove the hair if needed,” Banfield says.
4. After this, prepare your cat for the cleaning.
“Remember, above all else, be gentle! The ear canals and flaps are sensitive, and overly aggressive cleanings may cause serious damage to the delicate structures of your cat’s inner-ear,” Banfield says.
5. Put a small amount (enough to fill the canal but not overflow) of the ear cleaning solution into the ear. Massage gently for five to ten seconds at the ear base as the solution drips deep into the ear canal.
“You will probably hear the solution squish around as you massage, which is normal. This step should not be painful for your cat. If it is, have your cat examined immediately by your local veterinarian. Repeat the process with your cat’s other ear,” Banfield says.
6. After this, allow your cat to shake his or her head to bring the softened wax up out of the ear canals.
7. Gently wipe out and up the canal, removing any wax or cleaning solution using a cotton ball.
8. Please avoid using a cotton swab as this can damage the ear canal when your cat moves.
“A cotton swab placed too deeply or forcefully into the ear can cause eardrum damage, pain, and even complete hearing loss. The ears are particularly sensitive areas, so always use caution when cleaning them,” Banfield says.