Cleaning a cat's ears may not be the easiest task on earth for many people as ear cleaners are often uncomfortable for cats. Finding the right formula to treat your cat's specific ear cleaning needs, be that an ear mite treatment or just a routine rinse, will be the best way to ensure a successful cleaning, which could mean fewer cleanings over time.
Ear cleaners for cats range from unmedicated formulas to formulas with soothing ingredients, like aloe vera or hydrocortisone, to medicated rinses designed to combat infestations like ear mites and fungal infections. When administering a liquid ear cleaner, always hold the plastic tip by the base of the ear to squirt the solution into your cat's ear canal, then massage for a few seconds to allow the solution to work itself in. Then, use a tissue, dry towel, or cotton ball to wipe away the fluid and anything that comes off with it, like ear wax or yeast.
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What to Consider When Purchasing an Ear Cleaner for Cats
Tolerance: The type of ear cleaner you choose for your cat should depend heavily on what your cat will tolerate in terms of being handled. Often, ear cleaning solutions are a liquid formula and require a cat to be held while a plastic tip is inserted, releasing liquid into the ear canal to be wiped away with a cotton ball. Sometimes, like in the case of a deep ear infection, solutions like this are hard to avoid, so if you have a cat who doesn't like his ears handled you may be out of luck. For many routine cleanings, however, a medicated wipe will do the trick just fine and may be easier for some cats to tolerate.
Condition: Keeping the ears clean in cats and dogs is a great part of any pet's routine hygiene ritual, and ears should be carefully washed and dried on a regular basis. If you're looking to add ear cleansing into your cat's life, you'll want to understand your reasoning for doing so before you purchase a cleaner. If your cat simply needs her ears cleaned, a standard, nonmedicated liquid solution or wipes will do just fine. If you need to treat your cat's ears for a condition such as a fungal infection, ear mites, or ear wax buildup, a cleanser formulated to treat these ailments will be the most effective at providing relief for your cat.
Infection: If your cat has an ear infection you will need to treat it with medication prescribed by your veterinarian. If your cat has a mild case of an infection, or if she gets chronic ear infections that require regular upkeep, your doctor may recommend an ear flush or ear drops that you can purchase yourself. If your cat is taking ear medication to treat an issue, check with your veterinarian before you add an ear rinse to be sure both will work well together.
1. Zymox Otic Ear Solution with 1% Hydrocortisone, 1.25-oz. Bottle
Developed for use on cats and dogs, this ear cleaner contains 1% hydrocortisone to help relieve pets of inflammation and redness, either of which is commonly symptomatic of ear infections. Although this is medicated, it is a gentle formula that won't sting when applied to sensitive areas in and around the ears and is intended to alleviate existing ear problems. If you have a cat who is prone to head shaking when irritated by ear infections, or who is not the biggest fan of having his ears cleaned, this could be a great option for you as you don't need to pre-clean the ears before using it, so you can just treat, wipe, and let your cat go. Because it contains hydrocortisone, you don't have to worry about feeding your feline friend medication orally, which can also be unpleasant.
2. Vetericyn Plus Antimicrobial Pet Ear Rinse, 3-oz. Bottle
This ear rinse is a favorite among pet parents as it's easy to use when you want to keep your cat's ears clean. Used as a preventative treatment, this rinse makes for a great way to reduce ear wax buildup and the sometimes unpleasant odors that can come with it—without relying on steroids or antibiotics. The gentle formula can also be used to treat existing infections or wounds and can be applied three to four times daily if needed. The solution can also be applied to bandages and used as a dressing treatment for cats with injuries in or around the ears, nose, and mouth.
3. Nutri-Vet Ear Cleanser for Cats, 4-oz. Bottle
If you're looking to keep your cat's ears clean without spending a lot of money, you can do so with this ear cleaner, and you won't have to worry about the quality of the product being compromised. Formulated by veterinarians, this solution uses alcohol and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the ears while soothing the skin with aloe vera. With regular use you can remove bad odors caused by wax and dirt buildup in and around the ears, or, you can use it to help your cat find relief from itching caused by eczema, fungal infections, fleas and mites, and contact dermatitis. To use, simply insert the applicator tip into your cat's ear canal and squirt a small amount inside, rubbing the base of the ears for a minute or two to help the formula loosen up any wax or buildup before wiping clean.
4. Miracle Care R-7 Kit Medication for Ear Mites for Dogs & Cats, 2-oz. Bottle, 2-Count
If your cat has ear mites, she's probably uncomfortable and itchy, which can lead to skin irritation and even skin tearing. This medicated formula is designed to keep bugs like fleas, ticks, and ear mites under control in cats and dogs, and is safe for all breeds and coat types. If you don't need to treat your cat for parasites, you can still use this product once a week for regular ear cleanings, although this may not be the best choice if just a rinse is what you're looking for. Because it contains Pyrethrin to manage parasitic infections, it is not safe for use on kittens under 12 weeks old, and should not be ingested by people or animals, including contact with the eyes. Be sure to read all directions and warnings before using this product on your pet—it will work very effectively at killing ear mites but can lead to problems if misused.
5. Vibrant Life Cat Ear Wipes with Aloe, 30-Count
To get a thorough ear cleaning, a liquid solution that you can send down the ear canal to loosen up any gunk and treat any infections is essential. However, if you just need a quick clean or a spot cleaning between grooming appointments, then ear wipes can be a great way to keep a cat's ears free of dirt and buildup. Plus, many cats do not enjoy having liquid squirted into their ears, so if it's avoidable, this is a great way to spare them that trouble. Safe for cats and kittens, these wipes are formulated with aloe to offer a soothing clean and are easy to take with you on the go if you and your cat are on the road or away from home.
6. Tomlyn Veterinarian Formulated Dog & Cat Ear Cleaner, 4-oz. Bottle
Another choice formulated by veterinarians, this cleanser relies on gentle, exfoliating acids like lactic acid, benzoic acid, and salicylic acid to eliminate dirt, debris, and wax. Because this is not medicated to treat parasites like ear mites or ticks, it is gentle enough to use as often as every day, if your cat will tolerate it, to keep his ears clean and free of smells and buildup. It works great as a way to prevent bacterial and yeast infections by inhibiting microbial growth, so it can be a great option for anyone with cats who have frequent ear infections caused by fungus overgrowth, just so long as you take care to dry those ears thoroughly after treatment.