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Ear Care and Ear Problems in Cats

Your cat's ears may be able to pick up the sound of a bag of treats being opened across the house, but they could still use a little help staying clean. Monitoring your kitty's ears once per week for wax, debris and infection will help those sensitive sonar detectors stay perky and alert to your every move.

Outer Ear Check

A healthy feline ear flap, or pinna, has a layer of hair on its outer surface with no bald spots, and its inner surface is clean and light pink. If you see any discharge, redness or swelling, your cat's ears should be checked by a veterinarian.

Inner Ear Exam

Bring kitty into a quiet room where there are no other pets. Gently fold back each ear and look down into the canal. Healthy inner ears will be pale pink in color, carry no debris or odor and will have minimal if no earwax. If you find that your cat's ears are caked with wax or you detect an odor, please bring her in for a veterinary exam.

Ear Cleaning 101

Place a little bit of liquid ear cleaner (ask your vet for a recommendation) onto a clean cotton ball or piece of gauze. Fold kitty's ear back gently and wipe away any debris or earwax that you can see on the underside of her ear. Lift away the dirt and wax rather than rubbing it into the ear. And do not attempt to clean the canal-probing inside of your cat's ear can cause trauma or infection.

Signs of Ear Problems

Watch for the following signs that may indicate your cat's ears should be checked by a veterinarian:

  • Persistent scratching and pawing of the ear area
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Head tilting or shaking
  • Loss of balance and disorientation
  • Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Black or yellowish discharge
  • Accumulation of dark brown wax
  • Hearing loss
  • Bleeding