How To Clean Your Cat’s Ears


  • It’s not necessary to clean your cat’s ears unless you’ve been asked to by your vet.
  • However, you should check your cat’s ears regularly, and contact your vet if you notice any problems, such as wax, dirt, redness, heat or swelling.
  • If your vet advises you to clean your cat’s ears as part of their treatment, follow the steps below.
  • Check out our article Ear Problems in Cats for an overview of the most common causes of ear disease in cats.

What you’ll need to clean your cat’s ears

How to clean your cat’s ears

  1. Check with your vet before cleaning your cat’s ears – if they have an infection, ear mites, or a problem with their eardrum, they might need medication first.
  2. Put gloves on and get the cleaner, cotton wool and some treats ready.
  3. Ask someone to gently hold your cat on a non-slippery surface such as a bath mat. If you are on your own, sit behind your cat with them in-between your legs.
  4. Place the nozzle of the ear cleaner bottle into the entrance of your cat’s ear (see image below).
  5. Squeeze some liquid out of the bottle and put it to one side.
  6. Gently massage the base of the ear to loosen up any dirt and wax.
  7. Let your cat shake their head – and watch out for flying liquid!
  8. Use cotton wool to wipe away any dirt from the entrance of the ear. Never use cotton buds as they can push dirt in, and pop the eardrum if pushed too far.
  9. Reward your cat with a treat to make it a less stressful experience for them.
A labelled graphic showing how to place the nozzle of the ear cleaner bottle into the entrance of your cat’s ear

How often should I clean my cat’s ears?

There is no need to clean your cat’s ears unless your vet has told you to. Check them regularly, and speak to your vet if you see any dirt, wax or redness.

When to contact your vet

  • If your cat’s ears look dirty, contact your vet for advice before cleaning them. It might be that they need some medication rather than/as well as being cleaned.
  • It’s also important to get back in touch with your vet if they have asked you to clean your cat’s ears but your cat won’t let you.


Can I use olive oil to clean my cat’s ears?

Whilst there isn’t any harm in using olive oil, it’s a messy option and tends to be more difficult to apply than a cat-safe ear cleaner. You will need more equipment like syringes or an ear dropper, and the oil needs to be warmed to your cat’s body temperature (no hotter)!

My cat has been prescribed ear cleaner and drops – which way round do I apply them?

Clean your cat’s ears first, and then apply the medicated drops approximately 15 minutes later.

Can I use my dog’s ear cleaner on my cat?

No – cat’s ears are very sensitive so always use a specific cat-safe ear cleaner, which only contains ingredients suitable for cats.

Will cleaning my cat’s ears get rid of ear mites?

Cleaning your cat’s ears will help to remove some ear mites, but to treat them completely they will need medication as well, so speak with your vet.

Published: January 2023

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.