Ear mites can become a real health hazard for your cat. These small insects can colonize the interior of your cat's ear, which can lead to irritation and itching. This in turn makes your cat more susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections, which can lead to deafness or infections in other parts of the body. Weekly ear inspections are a must, followed by proper cleaning when necessary. The following guide can help you keep your cat's ears healthy.
#1: Inspect Properly
Although mites and infections can affect any cat, those that spend time outdoors or around other animals that go outdoors are more likely to come in contact with the pests. When inspecting your cat's ears, begin with a contented animal. Pet and soothe your cat so that they are relaxed. You can even give them a treat. Then, while still stroking you cat with one hand, gently roll back the ear tip with the other so you have a clear view inside. You are looking for signs of redness or irritation, or a pus-like discharge. Light brown ear wax is normal, but it may be a symptom of mites if there are dark black specks visible inside the ear.
#2: Choose Your Cleaning Method
You need to clean your cat's ears if you notice any trouble signs or if they have a heavy wax buildup. You can opt for an earwax cleaner for wax buildup. These come in two varieties – ear drops and cleaning pads. Ear drops work best for heavy wax buildup, while pads are excellent for mild buildup or a final cleaning. If there are mites present, you can get a prescription or over-the-counter ear drop treatment for mites. If you notice signs of an infection, take your cat to the animal hospital so you can get a prescription antibiotic or anti-fungal cleaner.
#3: Perform the Cleaning
Cleaning methods are generally the same regardless of the cleaner used. Drops are placed into the ear, and then the base of the ear is gently massaged. The amount of drops depends on the type and brand, so refer to the package insert or ask your vet for specifics. These are generally allowed to sit for a few minutes. Then, use the cleaning pads to gently clean the inside of the cat's ears. Stroke in one direction from the interior of the ear to the tip, working gently. You don't need to reach deep inside the ear – only clean the visible part that protrudes above the head. For mild cleaning only, skip the drops and simply use the pads.
Frequency of cleaning depends on whether there is an infection present and whether your cat's ears get dirty quickly. Consult with your local animal hospital to determine the best ear treatment plan for your cat.