Applying ear drops to cats

Applying ear drops to cats can be stressful for your cat and you. You may need to apply cleaning and/or medicated drops. 

Cleaning your cat’s ears is only normally necessary if your vet recommends it. You should check their ears regularly and contact your vet if you notice any unusual signs.


What it’s for

Why do cats need ear drops?

Ear problems in cats that require ear drops for treatment:

When do cats need ear drops?

Your cat may need ear drops if they have:

  • Itchy ears
  • Head shaking
  • Persistent wax or dirt
  • Intense smell from the ears
  • Ear discharge (pus or blood)
  • Wounds on the ears
  • Redness, heat, and swelling in the ears
  • Painful ears

Contact a vet if you see any of these signs in your cat.

What kind of ear drops are there for treatment?

There are two main treatments that your vet may recommend:

  • Medicated ear cleaners:

Cleaners that can break the wax down and have antibacterial and antifungal properties to help balance the microflora in the ear.

  • Medicated ear drops:
    Ear drops that have antibiotics, anti-fungal and steroids and are used to treat infections and can only be prescribed by a vet.


How it’s done

How to prepare your cat for ear drops

Cleaning your cat’s ears can be nice and simple.

It is good to train your cat to allow you to handle and stroke the ears from a young age.

If you make this an enjoyable experience with reward-based training, they will be happier to have their ears treated when the time comes.

If your cat is fidgety, use a towel to wrap them and restrict movement.

How to apply ear drops to your cat

  • If possible, wear gloves. If not, remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • It’s often best to have another person to help with this.
  • Hold your cat in your arms or use a towel to wrap them and restrict movements.
  • If using medication drops, follow your vet’s instructions on dosage.
  • When using an ear cleaner, always check the product instructions.
  • If you are using a vet ear cleaner, it is usually recommended to fill up the ear canal until you see the liquid appear.
  • Then massage your cat’s ears to break down the wax.
  • With a cotton wool ball, remove the excess debris. Never use cotton buds as you may damage the eardrum.
  • Let your cat shake their ears (don’t get hit by any flying liquid!).
  • Reward your cat with a treat to make the experience more positive.


How much does it cost to treat ear problems?

Cost depends:

  • On the type of problem and treatment.
  • Prescription ear drops and out-of-the-counter ones have very different purposes and price ranges.
  • Don’t let advertisements deceive you. Talk to a vet before buying an ear drop product.


Can ear drops be dangerous for your cat?

Treating your cat’s ears can be dangerous in two situations:

  • Cotton buds can rupture the eardrum.
  • Medication can be harmful if the cat’s ear drum is ruptured, which is why your vet must check your cat’s ears before prescribing.


Recovery tips

Your cat doesn’t like to have their ear touched?

Training your cat for it is the best way to achieve a successful treatment.

Try to make this an enjoyable experience with reward-based training.

  • Choose a quiet time and place.
  • Cuddle their head and ears.
  • Reward them.
  • Use a wet cotton ball and touch their ears.
  • Reward them.
  • When your cat is comfortable with this start applying a few drops of an ear cleaner.
  • If your cat is fidgety, use a towel to wrap them up and gently restrict their movements. Otherwise, hug them to help restrict their movements.


When to worry

When should you worry about applying ear drops to your cat?

You should contact your local vet if:

  • The symptoms do not improve despite treatment.
  • Your cat is painful.
  • Your cat is scratching or overgrooming other parts of the body.
  • You see any wounds on the skin.
  • Your cat is quieter than usual.
  • Your cat has vomiting or diarrhoea.

Joii can help if:

  • You see wax in your cat’s ears.
  • Your cat has itchy ears.
  • You need help applying ear drops in your cat’s ears.
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