5 Grooming Tips For Cleaning Your Cat's Ears
Cat's routinely clean themselves from top to bottom and aren't shy about it, and even their ear wax moves toward the external area of their ears so they're pretty effective in that area as well. Because cat's are such consistent self-groomers, it can be easy for us owners to overlook some aspects of their hygiene but it's best to check with your vet to find out if you should be helping your cat with ear cleaning.
This could be due to a developed ear infection, allergies, unusual odor, or some kind of mite or tick infestation. The effects of aging or illness can also limit cat's cleaning abilities so when the needed arises, it's best to be prepared and know the simple, straightforward ways to keep your cat's ears healthy and clean.
Start 'Em Young
Try to get in the routine of checking your cat's ears as early as possible so you can both get acquainted and become more comfortable with the process. Even if your cat doesn't need your help to keep their ears clean all the time, the routine will get your cat used to the practice of you touching and attending to their ears. Be sure to provide them with positive reinforcement around the process with small treats for good behavior like remaining still and calm. The same goes for you, remaining still and relaxed throughout the process is important for your cat feeling that way too. Too much tension or hyperactivity will only aggravate them and make it a much more difficult action when you have to repeat it later. Educating your kitten from the start is the easiest way to have them get used to the process. If you're having difficulty with your kitten or cat in this area, consult with your vet and they can likely provide you with some helpful tools for handling your cat during the ear-cleaning process.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Be prepared with additional items that might make the ear-cleaning process easier for you and your cat. If your cat is not as cooperative and holding them securely doesn't do the trick, keep a soft blanket or towel around to use to swaddle them. This can be helpful in making them feel safe while preventing them from biting, scratching, or running away.
You can also have a friend or partner help you by having them hold the cat while you perform the ear cleaning. Doing it while seated allows you more control and making sure you put your cat in a position that allows you to more easily look into their ears while holding them is best. On your lap or on an elevated surface is usually a good spot.
Make It An Enjoyable Process
Your cat is a brilliant when it comes to picking up on vibes and moods so they probably know when you're about to something, especially if it's something unpleasant like administering medicine or performing a cleaning routine. They might find a place to hide away if they feel threatened by this behavior. We recommend try to play with your cat first or clean their ears when they're already in a tranquil and relaxed state. Of course cushion the entire process with treats, before and after especially so they can associate the task with a positive outcome.
The Process Itself
Before diving into your ear cleansing routine, give your cat's ear a solid look-through inspection. Keep an eye out for an unusual swelling or redness, dry skin, debris, extra ear wax, or strange odors. These can be an indication of other medical issues and should be brought to your vet's attention. We recommend always conducting a small sniff test each time you clean their ears so you can detect when their ears smell different. You can use a small flash light to examine their ear canal.
Sometimes it's best to start the ear-cleaning check-up with a little grooming, especially if you have an outdoor cat that is more dirty or matted around their ear. This can cause decreased airflow into their ear canal and wax or other particles can build up and lead to infection. Be careful to remove any dirt or clumps of matted hair around the ear and ear flap prior to cleaning.
Clean Their Ears Like You Would Clean Your Own, Gently.
Just like we humans have been warned to not go crazy with our Q-tips and ear cleaning, the same goes for our furry cat friends. Vets normally say that you can use cotton swabs to clean away debris from the outer ear flap folds but never use inside the ear.
For a deeper, more thorough ear cleaning you can get supplies and recommendations from your vet. This includes items such as safe liquid solutions to apply within their ear. Best practices include holding the tip of their ear back so you can see all the way inside and you can be as precise and effective as possible. Apply the solution according to the directions provided and gently rub the base of the ear to guide it downward into the ear canal. As you can probably image, your cat will likely shake their head to remove the residue and that is perfectly fine. You can also clear away the excess by wrapping medical gauze around your fingertip and wiping it off gently. A cotton ball or pad will work just as effectively. Repeat on the other ear.