Cat Ear Wax:  My cat had an earplug: can it come back?

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Earplugs, or earwax plugs, are common in humans and pets. The cat ear wax is not yellow-orange but somewhat brownish. An earwax plug is an unusual buildup of cat ear wax in the external ear canal. The external auditory canal begins at the pinna of the ear.

cat ear wax
Anatomy And Physiology Of The Ear And Cat Ear Wax

Usually, the cat ear wax is gradually expelled towards the ear canal entrance thanks to the jaws' movements during chewing. However, it sometimes forms a plug that hardens and obstructs the external auditory canal.

Some animals have a naturally abundant production of earwax, which predisposes them to the appearance of a plug. The presence of water in the ears can also cause earwax to swell and promote the formation of a plug, but this is rare in cats. Finally, use cotton swabs to clean the cat ears.

We will examine it later in the article, but the cotton swab is not adapted to the shape of the ear canal of the cat. Therefore, its use may have the opposite effect and push the cat ear wax to the bottom of the duct, which leads to the formation of a plug.

The presence of this plug can cause discomfort for your pet with a loss of hearing and a feeling of a clogged ear or even itching or pain. Your cat will therefore tend to scratch and shakes its head frequently.

If your cat is prone to earplugs, it is advisable to use a product with ceruminolytic properties, which is usually combined with emollient and moisturizing substances. This breaks up earwax, debris, and secretions and thus prevents the formation of an ear plug. It is advisable to carry out this cleaning once or twice a week and to adapt according to the cleanliness of the ears.

cat ear wax
Can I clean my cat's ears with a cotton swab?

The question of cleaning the ears is a frequent question for cat owners who often wonder whether it is necessary, as can be done in humans, to use a cotton swab.

The confirmation of the cat's ear

The anatomy of the cat's ear is different from that of humans. Indeed, the ear canal is L-shaped, with a vertical downward part followed by a right angle. The cotton swab would therefore risk pushing the dirt to the bottom of the duct, which is not desired!

There is also a risk of injuring the eardrum if the cotton swab is inserted too deeply.

A real utility of cleaning?

The cat has a very developed sense of hearing, and it is, therefore, necessary to take care of the cleanliness and health of its ears. It is then required to maintain them and detect the presence of parasites or diseases. Most ear infections can be avoided by regularly maintaining your cat's ears.

It is advisable to inspect your cat's ears from time to time. If cleanliness is questionable, you can clean your pet's ears. On the other hand, if the ears seem clean, it is not recommended to intervene, except to accustom your cat to handling. Indeed, frequent cleanings can have the opposite effect and harm the health of the ears.

Therefore, cleaning in cats should not be systematic but should be adapted to the condition of their ears.

cat ear wax

When to clean?

Keeping the ears clean prevents most ear infections. In addition, cleaning should be more frequent in a cat prone to ear infections than in other cats.

It is necessary to obtain a particular cleaning product for the cat's ears from your veterinarian. This product is lipophilic, i.e., it can easily mix with fatty secretions (such as earwax) to eliminate them. Start by pouring a few drops of this product into the ear and then gently massaging the base so that the product penetrates appropriately. Then let the cat shake its head then wipe the entrance to the ear canal and the pavilion with a lint-free cotton (compress type).

If despite cleaning and proper care of the ears, a strong odor persists, the ears are red, the earwax is black, or your cat tilts its head, it is necessary to contact your attending veterinarian as soon as possible. These signs may be symptoms of an ear infection that needs to be treated.

Your veterinarian is the best ally for your pet's health, and no information site can replace his advice. Do not hesitate to contact him for additional information on caring for your cat's ears.

An essential organ for felines

Keeping cats' ears healthy is essential for our fellow travelers. They allow them to hear, of course, by taking advantage of their overdeveloped hearing, directing themselves, and maintaining their balance. So, for example, if the cat always lands on its paws, it is thanks to a righting reflex controlled by a small organ in the ear, the vestibule.

For his masters, the cat's ears are still an excellent indicator of the animal's mood: he is calm when they are straight and pointing forward, anxious when they are folded to the side, and angry when they are tips that are turned to the side, etc.

The maintenance kit for the cat's ears

The ears fulfill an essential role for your companion. Therefore, it is crucial to clean the ears to prevent infections regularly. Earwax accumulates at the bottom of the cat's ear canal, which is very deep and L-shaped. This accumulation is likely to cause ear infections and other infections associated with a humid environment.

For impeccable hygiene, it is advisable to maintain your companion's ears once a month in winter and every fortnight between spring and summer.

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How to clean your cat's ears?

Ear cleaning can be done as part of a cat grooming session. Still, you can also carry out this operation at home, with the appropriate accessories and products specially formulated for our four-legged friends. Start, moreover, by banishing cotton swabs which can create irritation. Instead, get a cat ear product that is developed for gentle cleaning. It usually comes in the form of a softening lotion.

The operation consists of pushing the soft tip of the product into your companion's ear canal without fear since the shape of this canal will prevent you from reaching the eardrum anyway. Then simply inject the lotion and massage the ear's outside to distribute it. Earwax and dirt will then rise to the duct entrance and can be removed with a cotton ball. It is advisable to renew the operation if the ear is not perfectly clean.

No need to hide it; there is very little chance that the maintenance of his ears will be felt positively by your cat. It is always advisable to accustom the animal from a young age.

The main risks of poor hygiene

Poor hygiene creates real risks for your feline's health, which can go as far as deafness or loss of balance. On the other hand, cleaning the cat's ears regularly avoids infections and sometimes allows you to realize a problem, especially if the ears are irritated or an unpleasant odor emerges.

Cat ears, characteristics, movement, and communication

The cat's ears are very flexible appendages that fulfill several functions in these animals. First, these appendages play a fundamental role in hearing since they participate in the reception of sound and its channeling towards the inner ear, where the brain will process the auditory signals.

Felines are generally susceptible animals, so the ears are of great importance in the perception of the environment surrounding them. As there are many breeds of cats, it is typical for the ears of these animals to have different shapes and sizes. However, they are characterized by high mobility according to the signals the cat perceives and their behavior in certain situations.

Like other mammals, cats' ears consist of an external ear, which constitutes the visible and characteristic outer cartilaginous portion in these animals, a middle ear or ear canal, and the inner ear, where acoustic stimuli are processed. The movement of the cat's ears also plays a fundamental role in communication between individuals.

Characteristics of the cat's ears

Cat ears can have different shapes and sizes depending on the breed. In this way, we have breeds with long ears and short ears, breeds of cats with ears with rounded or pointed apex, and erect and non-erect ears. Additionally, the covering of hairs that the cat's ears have varies in those breeds with short and long hair.

The pinna of the cat's ear significantly functions in the reception of sound and its channeling to the auditory canal of the inner ear. These structures allow these animals to determine the direction of a sound with an accuracy of 5 degrees. Likewise, it will enable you to discriminate sound variations and obtain information about the animal's characteristics that produce said sounds.

Cats have a wide variety of small muscles in their ears, which allow great freedom of movement. Cats can turn their ears up to 180°, so they can point their pinnae forward, backward, and sideways in the direction of the sound source. The pinna is considerably reduced in some cats due to human reproductive selection.

cat ear wax

Cat ear anatomy

The cat's ears are made up of structures similar to those present in the rest of the mammals. In these animals, the ears have two primary functions: hearing and balance. But in addition, they participate in communication since their position and movement indicate different states of mind.

The cat's ears feature the outer ear, inner ear, and middle ear. The cat's inner ear, as in other mammals, consists of a highly complex structure, which includes the organ of hearing or cochlea and a vestibular system or organ of balance. Within this section of the auditory system, there are also the semicircular canals, which are filled with fluid. In cats, these channels are highly developed compared to other animals, which explains the incredible ability to balance that these little cats have.

Middle and outer ear

The eardrum and a tiny, air-filled chamber are in the middle ear. In this chamber are the ear bones (anvil, hammer, and stirrup), present in other mammals. Within this structure, there are two muscles: the oval window and the Eustachian tube. The latter is nothing more than a small tube that connects the middle ear with the back of the nose. Thanks to this, the air can pass to the middle ear.

In the cat's ears, it is also possible to find the external ear, which includes the pinna of the ear and the auditory canal. The pavilion is made up of cartilage, as well as being covered with skin and hair. The shape of this structure allows for capturing the sound waves produced in the environment, which are channeled through the hearing channel and reach the eardrum. The auricles can move voluntarily and independently.

In felines, the ear canal has an incredible depth compared to human ears and a conical shape that forms a kind of funnel. In this way, the sound is directed towards the eardrum. Unfortunately, presenting a deeper channel also generates a more significant accumulation of wax and debris. This, in many cases, can cause inflammatory processes and some infections. However, it does not represent a common or severe problem in cats.

Henry's slit or pocket

The cat's ears have an aperture on the pavilion's outer lateral edge. This structure is found in a few mammals, such as bats, other felines, and some breeds of dogs. This aperture is known as the marginal pouch or Henry's pocket and is made up of a fold or fold of the skin of the ear.

The function of this leather bag is a mystery, although thanks to research, it has been possible to establish three possible reasons or theories. The first indicates that Henry's cleft allows cats to perceive high-pitched sounds while the ears are tilted during hunting activities.

Another theory indicates that this pocket helps the movement and inclination of the cat's ears to be more efficient and, therefore, to capture sounds better. Finally, a third theory claims that these marginal bags give the ears a certain degree of flexibility, which allows cats to move them better to express emotions such as fear, anger, and satisfaction.

Cat ear movement and communication

In general, cats are very calm, docile, and independent animals. A cat in a state of relaxation or very quiet will have its ears directed upwards and with passive movement. This position represents a clear signal that other cats easily interpret.

Suppose a cat has its ears pointed forward, in addition to staring in one direction. In that case, you can understand that the individual is very interested in a particular sound or is alert for any sign of trouble.

On the other hand, a kitten in a state of stress, either because it is in a dangerous situation, is terrified, or is in a fight with another cat, keeps its ears directed back and close to the body. This position can also be interpreted as a warning signal when the feline accompanies the ears' movement with loud hissing or meowing vocalizations. If the cat keeps its pupils not dilated and its ears directed backward, it is a clear sign that it can attack at any time.

A kitten uncomfortable with a situation or slightly angry keeps its ears straight, pointing up and directed to the sides. The movement of the ears is significant in the communication of cats. For this reason, it is valuable to learn to interpret these signals, especially if we have several animals under our care.

Cats that live in the same house usually establish a scale of dominance, and, in many cases, there may be confrontations between them. Learning to read the signals offered by the cat's ears makes it possible to avoid many situations that can cause damage to the physical integrity of any of the animals or other family members.

Cat ear conditions

The health conditions of the cat's ears largely determine the general state of these animals. A healthy cat has a fantastic sense of hearing and an impressive ability to balance that allows him to maneuver through often unusual places. In general, conditions and pathologies related to cat ears are rare. However, there are a variety of congenital and acquired conditions that can affect our feline pets' hearing and quality of life.

Among the congenital or hereditary conditions that affect the cat's ears is the condition of "folded ears", which consists of the distortion or bending of the end of the pavilion. However, this does not usually compromise cats' hearing. Another relatively frequent condition is atresia, which consists of a poor development of the auditory canal, which results in a partial or complete obstruction, which intervenes in sound conduction to the cochlea.

One of the most common conditions is deafness in white cats with blue eyes. Animals with this phenotype are at high risk of developing deafness within a few days of birth due to degeneration of the cochlea.

Acquired problems and disorders

In addition to hereditary conditions, cats can also suffer from various conditions acquired through bumps, falls, or other traumatic accidents. For example, ear bruises are common in homeless cats that fight with other individuals and in animals that scratch excessively. Polyps and carcinomas can also develop in the cat's ears due to prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Some infectious agents, such as mites, can cause infections and inflammations of the ear canal and canals. In many cases, excess secretions from the sebaceous glands can cause external otitis and seborrhea. When these pathologies are not appropriately treated, they can lead to internal otitis, with inflammation of the ear canals. In extreme cases, cats develop complete and permanent deafness. In addition to these pathologies, the eardrum of cats tends to thicken over the years, reducing hearing capacity in senior animals.

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