How To Clean Cat Ears – Step By Step Instructions

From time to time it will be necessary to clean your cat’s ears. It is a good idea to get into the habit of performing a weekly check-up of your cat’s ears so that you can quickly spot any problems. The ears are susceptible to several disorders, including:

  • Ear mites – Spider-like mites which live in the ears causing discomfort and inflammation. Signs of ear mites include a coffee grounds appearance, itching, and head shaking.
  • Ear infection – Bacterial or fungal infection of the ear characterised by itching, bad odour and discharge.
  • Ear hematoma – A pocket of blood on the pinnae (outer part of the ear).
  • Sunburn (solar dermatitis)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – Cancer of the ear, as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun. This occurs most often in white cats.

Only clean the ears if you have good reason to. Most of the time this will not be necessary. Certain breeds do tend to produce more ear wax than others and may require occasional ear cleaning. To clean the ears you will need;

  • Cotton wool balls
  • Ear cleaning solution (available from your vet)

To use, carefully turn the cat’s ear back and squeeze a few drops of the ear cleaning solution into your cat’s ear and gently massage at the base of the ear for 30 seconds.

Wipe the ear carefully with the cotton ball, removing the wax and debris. You should only reach in as far as you can see, don’t push too far into the ear as you risk damaging the eardrum.

What not to do

  • Never use cotton buds in the ears.
  • If you see signs of inflammation or infection, leave the ears alone and see a veterinarian who will be able to prescribe a medication to treat the ears.
  • Use any product that’s not designed for cat ears such as alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

Offer your cat a treat after cleaning his ears as a reward.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio

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