How to check your cat’s ears at home

  • Mochi
  • September 17, 2023

Checking your cat's ears regularly is essential for detecting potential issues and ensuring their overall ear health. Here's a detailed guide on how to check your cat's ears at home:


  • Good Lighting: Ensure you're in a well-lit area to get a clear view of the ears.
  • Calm Environment: Choose a quiet place to reduce distractions and stress for your cat.
  • Handling: Gently hold your cat's head with one hand, while using the other to handle the ear. Approach your cat calmly and speak in a soothing tone.

Examine the Outer Ear (Pinna)

  • Color: The skin should be a pale pink color. Redness can indicate inflammation or irritation.
  • Swelling: The ear should not be swollen or have lumps.
  • Odor: A healthy ear shouldn't have a strong odor. A foul or yeasty smell can indicate an infection.

Check the Ear Canal

  • Earwax: A small amount of light brown earwax is normal. Excessive, dark, or smelly earwax can be a sign of a problem.
  • Discharge: Yellow, bloody, or pus-like discharge is not normal and can indicate an infection.
  • Parasites: Look for any signs of ear mites, which might appear as tiny white specks. They often produce a dark, coffee-ground-like discharge.

Check for Signs of Discomfort

  • Scratching: Frequent scratching of the ears can indicate irritation or an infection.
  • Head Shaking: If your cat frequently shakes its head or tilts it to one side, this can be a sign of an ear issue.
  • Sensitivity: If your cat seems sensitive or painful when you touch its ears, there might be an underlying problem.

Examine the Hair Around the Ears

  • Hair Loss: Bald patches or excessive hair loss around the ears can indicate skin issues or external parasites.
  • Debris: Ensure there's no foreign material or debris caught in the hair around the ears.


  • Gentle Handling: The ear is a sensitive area. Always handle with care and never insert anything into the ear canal.
  • Cleaning: If the ears seem dirty, you can clean the outer part using a cotton ball dampened with a cat-specific ear cleaner. Avoid using Q-tips as they can push debris further into the ear or damage the eardrum.
  • Regular Checks: Make it a routine to check your cat's ears at least once a week.
  • Consultation: If you notice any abnormalities, changes, or signs of discomfort, consult with a veterinarian immediately. Ear issues can progress rapidly, so timely intervention is crucial.

Remember, while home checks are valuable for early detection of potential issues, they don't replace professional examinations. Regular veterinary check-ups will ensure a comprehensive assessment of your cat's ear health.