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Cat Health

Ear Cleaning and Grass Eating

cleaning cats ears

cleaning cats ears

Dr. Coughlin,

How do you check and clean the ears of a cat? My cat doesn’t like me doing anything to his ears. Also – my cat LOVES to eat grass. Is it okay for him to do? We only feed him the indoor type.


Hi Richard,

Cleaning cat ears can be a difficult and frustrating experience, for both you and the cat. It is best to gather supplies first before you get started. I use dry cotton balls and cotton swabs to gently remove wax and other buildup from the upper canal, crevices and folds of the external portion of the ear. My rule for swabs is to NEVER put it any deeper than the length of the cotton. Cats have very “folded” ears, and the swabs help clean out between them.

Cat’s ears are unique. The front opening goes down into the canal and it then takes a right turn before ending at the eardrum. Because of this, the vertical and horizontal canals can fill with wax. I use a very gentle cleaner called DECHRA DermaPet Malacetic Otic Ear/Skin Cleanser, 16 oz. – it has a peach smell and is safe if there has been trauma from scratching or an underlying infection.

Any ear cleaner is fine in most cases, but if you see any blood, or your cat is shaking his head, scratching vigorously, or has a head tilt or a change in the size of the pupil or swelling of the upper flap of tissue, please call your veterinarian immediately. Your vet can provide you with a safe ear cleaner after determining the type of problem they are dealing with.

Most cats will eat grass and then vomit it up later. We don’t know why for sure, but I believe that they can’t tolerate the firm texture and it irritates the stomach lining, causing the cat to vomit. As long as the grass was grown indoors or has had no chemical applications when outside, it is safe to let your cat chew away.

Good luck and enjoy the new look for PetsWeekly!

Lori L Coughlin, DVM

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