The insides of your kitty's ears should be pink and clean, with perhaps a bit of black or brown wax. There are a few conditions that can cause what looks like dirt inside your cat's ears. Some can be treated at home, while others require veterinary treatment.
Ear wax can look like black or brown buildup. Like humans, it is entirely possible that a cat can have heavy wax buildup inside his ears. If this is the case, your cat should not scratch his ears excessively, shake his head, flatten his ears back or rub them against things. In short, wax buildup alone will not make him act like there is something wrong with his ears. Your veterinarian can provide you with a solution for cleaning wax from your kitty's ears. Dampen a gauze pad with it and gently wipe the wax away until your cat's ears are pink and clean; monitor them daily. If wax buildup was the only problem, it will take a long time to come back.
Ear mites are another potential cause of dirt-like buildup inside the ears of your cat. They are a parasite that live on the skin debris, cell fluids and blood inside the ear and are highly contagious. Mites cause your cat's ears to itch, causing him to shake his head, flatten his ears or rub them against things. There are over-the-counter treatments available, but they are not always successful in killing the mites. One remedy for ear mites is to put a few drops of mineral oil in your cat's ears, massage it into the base and wipe it out with cotton balls or tissue. The mineral oil will paralyze the mites. Then apply the ear mite solution to the ears. Follow up with a flea treatment that contains an element that controls and kills ear mites.
Cat ear infections are another potential cause of dirt-looking buildup inside their ears. Infections can be caused by yeast or bacteria. As you might expect, they require treatment with antibiotics. These are usually in pill form and usually are given for 10 to 14 days. This treatment typically is accompanied by daily cleanings with a medicated solution from your vet. He also may prescribe medicated ear drops.
See Your Vet
Any and all of these conditions can cause what looks like dirt inside your cat's ears. The problem is that you cannot know exactly which one he has without a diagnosis from your veterinarian. Without this, you might be treating him for ear mites at home, for example, when he actually has an ear infection. If this is the case, the condition will not improve. So see your vet for an exact and proper diagnosis and treatment, and your kitty's ears should clear up in no time.
- The Cat Health Guide: Cat Ears
- "The Country Vet's Home Remedies for Cats," H. Ellen Whiteley, D.V.M.
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images