how to clean your cat’s ears

Cat shocked

The toughest part may be the cat, not the ear

Most cats are pros at keeping their own ears clean, but if your kittyBAE is prone to chronic ear infections, you’ll probably need to lend a helping hand. Here are tips on how to keep your cat’s ears clean and healthy, with a minimum of screeching from you both.

A cat owner cleaning her cat's ear

Never use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to clean your cat’s ears — these substances just aren’t safe for your kitty. Also, never use cotton-tipped swabs, like Q-tips, in a cat’s ear at home. It’s just too easy to push debris and wax further down into the ear canal.

Get ready, get set, get cuddly with your cat

Equipment for cleaning a cat's ear

Step #1: Get your equipment

You’ll need

  • Vet-recommended ear cleaning solution
  • Cotton balls
  • A clean towel
  • A cup of warm water
  • Kitty treats

Place the bottle of ear cleaning solution in warm water so that it will feel good — or at least not cold — in your cat’s ears. 

Cuddle the cat

Step #2: Cuddle your cat

You may have your own special hold to help keep your cat as calm and still as possible, but here are a few more to try; 

  • Position your cat comfortably in your lap. Rest the forearm of your non-dominant hand across your cat’s body and gently cradle your cat’s head in your non-dominant hand. (We know, this may be easier said than done.)
  • Wrap your cat safely in a towel like a kitty burrito, keeping their pointy bits inside and their head poking out.
  • Get a cat-loving friend or family member to gently and firmly hold your cat.
Inspect ear

Step #3: Inspect the ears

Gently pull your cat’s ear flaps up and slightly back, and check for a foul odor, redness, or discharge that may indicate an ear infection, If you see any danger signs, stop right there and contact your vet for an appointment. 

Drip and Massage

Step #4: Drip and massage

While still holding up the ear flap, ooze the prescribed amount of ear cleaning solution into your cat’s ears and give the base of your cat’s ear a mini-massage with your thumb and index finger. This will loosen up any wax or debris, and your cat might even enjoy it.

Shake and dry

Step #5: Shake and dry

After the massage, let go of your cat’s ear flap and let them shake their head a few times. Then blot the area dry with a cotton ball. Don’t stick anything down in the ear canal, just get the entrance clean.

Over-cleaning your cat’s ears can increase the risk of an ear infection, so follow your vet’s recommendations for how often it should be done. 

When to call the vet 

Safety first! If you or your cat are having a really hard time, don’t hesitate to bring them in. We’re here to help you make sure that your cat’s ears stay clean and healthy.

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