To adequately treat inflammatory or infectious ear conditions in cats, topical ear medications are often necessary. Some cats will tolerate the administration of liquids or ointments in their ears while others may not.
Before you begin
It is important to remember that your cat's ear condition may be painful and that even a normally gentle or passive cat may respond by struggling, biting, or scratching. Use caution and patience while treating your cat's ear(s). Until the medication begins to control the problem and ease the discomfort, you may need to wrap your cat securely in a towel or blanket in order to apply the medication. If your cat needs her ears cleaned before ear medication is applied, see the handout "Instructions for Ear Cleaning in Cats".
Read the drug label carefully and make sure you understand the prescription instructions before you begin.
How to apply your cat’s ear medication
1. If the medication is refrigerated, you may be able to warm it up by placing the container in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Be sure to ask your veterinarian if this is acceptable before warming any medication. Do not microwave the medication.
2. Hold your cat securely in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain your cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. It also may be helpful to have someone else hold your wrapped cat the first few times you apply the ear medication.
3. Draw up the liquid into the dropper or prepare the squeeze bottle as directed. Hold the dropper or bottle between the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand. Use this same hand to rest your cat's jaw on your palm.
4. Use your remaining hand to hold the ear canal open. Some cats respond well to a rub around the jaw or ear.
5. Slowly apply the prescribed dose of medication into the ear canal.
6. Gently massage the base of the ear in a circular motion. Be cautious and calm. You should hear a ‘squishing’ sound as you massage the medication deep into the ear canal. Some cats may not allow you to do this. If this is the case, do not force your cat to endure the ear canal massage.
7. Release the ear and allow your cat to shake its head. If the medication contains a wax solvent, it will dissolve the debris (dark material). When your cat shakes its head the debris in the ear canal will shake out of the ear. You may gently wipe out any accumulated debris from the ear flap with a tissue or cotton ball.
"It is important to remember that your cat's ear condition may be painful and that even a normally gentle or passive cat may respond by struggling, biting, or scratching. Use caution and patience while treating your cat's ear(s)."
Tips to help your cat accept ear medication
• Associate the ear medication with good things more often than treatment. For example, show the medication to your cat with the offer of a treat several times per day.
• Choose a quiet area in your home, away from other pets or distractions, where you are least likely to be interrupted. This minimizes the stress your cat may experience during application and will reduce your risk of being scratched and/or bitten.
• Use veterinarian-recommended calming pheromones to relax your cat before administering treatment.
• Massage your cat around the neck and ears regularly so they recognize ear manipulation as good touch.
If your cat is resistant to having ear medication applied, contact your veterinary team for more advice. Your cat may also need some additional pain medication prescribed.