How to spot ear issues in cats

Cats have excellent hearing, and for good reason. They are natural predators, and their sense of hearing helps them to hunt. Even if your cat lives indoors, you might have noticed how sharp their hearing can be – such as when they come running for a bowl of their favourite cat food as soon as you open the cupboard!

How to spot ear issues in cats

However, just like us, cats can experience problems with their ears. It’s important that you help to keep your cat’s ears as healthy as possible. Checking their ears regularly is a great way to ensure you spot any changes early on, and can get any necessary treatment in good time.

Read on to find out more about spotting cat ear issues.

What do healthy cat ears look like?

Healthy cat ears should be clean, and they should not have a smell. There should be no visible redness, discharge, or hair loss from around the ears. Healthy cat ears should be pink and clean inside.

Your cat also shouldn’t be ‘worrying’ at their ears; rubbing and scratching are both signs that your cat is experiencing discomfort.

What are the general symptoms of cat ear issues?

If your cat’s ears look red or sore, your cat is scratching them or rubbing their head on the floor, or there is any discharge, there is likely to be a problem.

Not all problems are visible, though. It’s not unusual for some cats to develop hearing loss when they are older. If your cat doesn’t respond to noises in the same way they used to, for example, they may be losing their sense of hearing. This isn’t an issue for most cats, and there is nothing you can do about it. However, if you think your cat is losing their hearing, ask the vet to give them a check-up; they can investigate further and make sure there isn’t another cause.

How should I check my cat’s ears?

The best way to monitor your cat’s ears is to visually check them during grooming. If you get into this habit, you’ll more easily notice when something has changed.

Cats’ ears are very delicate, so avoid touching them when you are grooming your cat. To check their ears visually, look at the inside and the outside, and around the base. Do not insert anything inside their ears, or touch the inside of their ears yourself; it might be uncomfortable, and they won’t enjoy it!

Avoid cleaning cats’ ears

Don’t try to clean your cat’s ears yourself – they are very delicate and easy to damage by accident. Don’t try to insert cotton wool, cotton buds, or anything else into their ear, even to clean them, as this could cause distress.

If you think your cat’s ears need cleaning, consult your vet.

My cat has ear wax

Just like humans, it’s normal for cats to have a small amount of ear wax. Ear wax in cats usually looks similar to ear wax in humans. It shouldn’t be a strange colour, have a noticeable odour, or be excessive.

If you think your cat has a lot of ear wax, it looks or smells unusual, or it seems to be irritating them, take them to see the vet. They will be able to tell you if your cat has excessive ear wax and what, if anything, should be done to treat it.

There are fleas on my cat’s ears

Cat fleas can live in many different places on your cat’s body, including around their ears. If you spot fleas on your cat’s ears, it’s important to treat them as soon as possible. Fleas can be unpleasant and irritating for your cat, and they can spread to other cats as well.

There are many types of flea treatment available, from spot-ons to cat-friendly flea shampoos. If you’re not sure how to deal with fleas, or you’re not entirely certain if the things on your cat’s ears are fleas, take them to see your vet.

My cat’s ears are hot

Cats’ ears are a part of their body that helps regulate their temperature. A healthy cat’s ears should always be warm to the touch.

If you think your cat’s ears are significantly warmer than usual, it may be an indication of fever or ill health. If you are concerned, it’s always worth checking with your vet.

Remember, a regular visual check of your cat’s ears if the best way to ensure you spot any changes early on. Make sure you check out our full selection of Cat Mag articles for even more advice and information.