How to Clean Your Cat's Ears

WHAT?! You want to clean my ears? No way!!

I can remember telling my mom that, shortly after my adoption, when we got back from Dr. Heather Peikes’ office when I was diagnosed with a yeast infection all over my body and in my ears. Dr. Peikes said my ears were filled with “dirt and debris” and I was unable to keep up with proper ear-cleaning – so mom would have to clean my ears until we could clear up the yeast infection all over my body.

Why did mom start to clean my ears?

I had started to overgroom, which is incessant licking to the point of going bald, and scratch all the time as I was very itchy – particularly scratching my ears a lot and shaking my head too much. With those kinds of symptoms, we headed to the vet to get some answers and relief.

Most of us cats have healthy, clean ears and do a fine job of cleaning them ourselves. However, if the cat is immune-compromised, has an allergy, or is prone to ear wax build up and/or gets ear infections easily, then we need you humans to step in and help clean our ears until we can get it under control. 

In the big picture, mom cleared up my yeast infection which is a sign of a food allergy 50% of the time, ultimately by switching me to a fresh food diet over the next couple months. And she cleaned my ears 3 days a week for the next 2 -3 months or until Dr. Peikes declared my ears “dirt and debris” free!

So how do you clean our ears you might ask?


  1. Invest in a high-quality feline ear cleaning solution preferably organic with no chemicals and preservatives…avoid using “household things” like vinegar or peroxide as they can burn the ear canal…

  2. Cotton balls, cotton pads, cotton gauze, giant Q-tips (The traditional Q-tips should not be used as they are too small and could easily hurt the ear drum if inserted too far. There are giant Q-tips on the market and are a better choice for the ears, particularly for the small folds at the base of the ear outside the canal and the ear flaps.) 

  3. It is often best to “burrito-wrap” us or use our Thundershirt before starting the ear cleaning – that way we feel more secure while you are fussing with our ears!

  4. Following the directions on the bottle – drip a few drops into our ear with our head a little tilted so the liquid goes down into our ear canal.

  5. Do NOT let the tip of the bottle touch our ear so as not to spread any bacteria or yeast. If you do by accident, clean the tip with a cotton ball dipped in hydrogen peroxide. 

  6. Immediately and gently, massage the base of our ear so the liquid trickles deep down – you will probably hear the liquid “squishing” around, then release.

  7. Stop for a minute and we will definitely shake our head a few times in a reaction to the liquid inside our ear canal, but this is good, because over repeated cleanings, the head-shaking will help dislodge the dirt and debris in the ear canal and will fling it towards the ear canal entrance, making it easier to clean for you and me.

  8. Taking the cotton balls, etc or the giant Q-tips, start to wipe out the dirt, etc…when you see a lot of brown ear wax – that is a sign of a yeast infection. Do not attempt to go down the ear canal ever!

  9. Focus the cleaning on the outside of the opening and the entire ear flap/wing with the cleaning solution.

And when it is all over, my advice is to have a couple treats on hand to reward us for being such good little kitties!

One of mom’s (and my) favorites is the Pura Naturals Pet Feline Ear Cleansing System, which is actually also available at Meow Mini Mart, our online boutique. The kit includes 20 giant double-sided and reusable, medical grade foam tips and a bottle (1 oz.) of organic cleansing and healing serum. Made in the USA, the solution is fragrance, dye, chemical and preservative free – and is good for the environment too since the tips are reusable.

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