When to Clean a Cat's Ear
Most cats don’t need to have their ears cleaned very often. Infact, a bit of ear wax is helpful to the health of a cat's ear tissue. However, when a large amount of wax, dirt or debris accumulates, the ears do need a good cleaning. Remember that no cleaning solution should be put into a cat’s ears unless you are absolutely certain that the eardrum is intact.
Ear Cleaning Tips
Moderately dirty ears can be cleaned with a cotton ball dampened with warm water. Cotton-tipped swabs should be avoided, because if inserted too deeply they can rupture the eardrum. They also tend to push debris further down into the ear canal, rather than helping to remove it, which is the goal of ear cleaning. Very dirty ears can be cleaned in a number of ways. There are many different specialized pet ear cleansers available from veterinarians and pet supply retailers. Some people make their own by using room-temperature mineral oil, olive oil or a very dilute white vinegar and water solution. Irritating solutions, such as alcohol and ether, should never be used. They can be painful and cause irritation, inflammation and swelling.
The appropriate ear-cleaning solution should be applied into the external ear canal (in cats, just a few drops). The base of the ear should then be gently massaged to loosen the dirt, debris and waxy build-up. After a minute or so of massaging, the loosened debris should be gently wiped out with a cotton ball. Many cats find this process to be soothing, especially if it is done on their owner’s lap and if only a small amount of ear cleaning solution is put into their ears. However, other cats object vigorously to having their ears cleaned and need gentle but firm restraint. Try to make this a calm, quiet, positive experience for your cat. If the cat objects too strongly, it may be best to have a veterinarian or skilled groomer do the cleaning.
As with all aspects of grooming, ear cleaning will go better if it is started when a kitten is young, say 10 to 12 weeks of age. Once the kitten gets used to the procedure, it usually will come to enjoy it. It is much better to have an adult cat that doesn’t resist ear cleaning, than one that hisses, spits and scratches when you try to clean its ears.