Cats’ ears are extremely important to them. As hunters, cats use their ears to locate and catch prey. Cats can hear far higher-pitched sounds than humans and even dogs. Cat’s ears rotate around 180 degrees, allowing them to identify where a sound is coming from – they can pinpoint a mouse rustling in the undergrowth very effectively!
Even domestic cats use their ears a lot. Whilst not all pet cats hunt, most do enjoy play-hunting and need the stimulation of a mock-hunt to keep their brains happy. Toys with jingles or rustles can help stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instincts.
Pet cats also use their ears for communicating with us. We often talk to them, and they enjoy listening out for the food packet being opened, or our key in the front door as we come home from work.
Cats also use their ears to listen for danger, and hearing helps them to feel safe in their environment.
Most cats don’t need anything done to their ears. They don’t need cleaners or other treatments unless there is a problem diagnosed by a vet.
Cats’ ears will produce a normal amount of wax, which shouldn’t be removed as it is important for the normal function of the ear. Ears should only be cleaned when the wax is excessive due to a health problem.
When cats have problems with their ears, it can be necessary to clean their ears, or to apply medication prescribed by a vet. When ears cause problems, one or both ears can be affected.
Signs your cat is having ear problems include:
Your cat scratching at his ears
A lot of dark, sticky muck in the ear
The ear flaps (called pinnae) look red, scratched, or sore
The entrance to the ear canal looks red or sore
Yellowish or brown discharge visible in the ear canals
Your cat holding an ear down or tilting his head to the side
Your cat disliking being handled around his head and ears
You must always speak with a vet if you are worried about your cat’s ears. Our online vets are available for advice here.
Cats can suffer a range of ear problems including ear mites, allergies, infections, lumps growing in the ear, middle ear problems, deafness, ruptured eardrums, and things stuck in the ear like grass seeds or thorns.
Many other things can cause ear problems too, so seeing a vet is important to work out what is going on for your kitty. Making a correct diagnosis is critical when treating ear disease.
Ears are very fragile and ear disease can be painful. Correct treatment is vital to preserve your cat’s hearing and allow a speedy recovery. Please never use a product on your cat’s ears without asking a vet first.
Ear cleaners are a common treatment used for ear problems in cats. If you need to use a cleaner on your cat’s ears, you must use one which is appropriate for cats’ ears.
Products for cat skin are not suitable for ears – the skin of the ear canal is very fragile and behaves differently to skin elsewhere on your cat.
Ear canals are very sensitive and can become irritated if the wrong cleaner, or too much cleaner, is used.