Three bottles of cat ear cleaner
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The 10 Best Cat Ear Cleaners, According to a Veterinarian

Get rid of gunky ears for good with one of these vet-approved cat ear cleaners.
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If you notice gunk in your cat's ears and even (gulp) a smelly odor, your feline friend might need a cat ear cleaner to restore and maintain her overall ear health.

Should I Be Cleaning My Cat's Ears?

Cats are independent companions who love—and prefer—to clean themselves. However, they can't clean their ears by themselves, so should we make ear cleaning a part of our regular care routine for our cats?

"Ear cleaning is not necessary for a healthy cat," says Jamie Whittenburg, DVM at Senior Tail Waggers and owner of Kingsgate Animal Hospital in Lubbock, Texas. 

If you check your cat's ears and notice they're light pink and clean with a low amount of earwax, congratulations—your cat's ears are healthy!

However, "if your cat has discharge or a foul smell, your first step is to take them for a visit with their veterinarian," Whittenburg says. "Cats with 'dirty' ears may have an infection or ear mites. Cleaning the ears of a cat who does not need their ears cleaned may lead to irritation and infection."

Types of Cat Ear Cleaner

Deciding on the right type of cat ear cleaner depends on the cause of your cat's gunky ears and if the condition just needs a general cleansing solution or a medicated treatment. Your vet can help you figure out the best treatment.

"Depending on the intended use, there are general cleansing and flushing solutions as well as medicated varieties that your veterinarian may suggest if the cat has an infection," Whittenburg says.

How to Use Cat Ear Cleaner

Whittenburg advises to not clean your cat's ears aggressively or more often than your veterinarian recommends since it can lead to irritation. She also warns to not use a Q-tip—or any other instrument—as it could lead to a ruptured eardrum and push wax and debris further into your cat's ear canal. Yikes!

10 Vet-Recommended Cat Ear Cleaners to Keep Your Feline's Ears Healthy

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Vetoquinol Ear Cleansing Solution

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When it comes to a trusty cat ear cleaner, this is Whittenburg's go-to product. Gentle and non-irritating, this cleansing solution is formulated with aloe vera, denatured alcohol, and lactic acid to maintain your cat's ear health and prevent external ear infections. If your cat's ears are super dirty, you can use this 2–3 times daily for a week. But again, check in with your vet before using.

Shop now: Vetoquinol Ear Cleansing Solution, $18; chewy.com 

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Dechra EpiKlean Ear Cleanser

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Does your cat have itchy, dirty ears? This is a fantastic basic ear cleanser for both cats and dogs, Whittenburg says. Best for cats who don't have infected ears, this cleanser works great to clean, dry, and remove debris from your cat's ears. Depending on your vet's advice, you can use it 1–3 times a week for maintenance cleaning or use it prior to ear treatment.

Shop now: Dechra EpiKlean Ear Cleanser, $15; amazon.com

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Zymox Ear Cleanser

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Say bye-bye to gunky ears for good! Whittenburg recommends this cleanser for its pleasant smell and effectiveness for flushing ears. Made chemical-free and cleaner-free, you won't have to worry about irritating your cat's ears—even if they're sensitive. You can expect this to leave your cat's ears smelling clean and staying healthy.

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Great Pets Dog & Cat Ear Cleaner

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Coined "the ultimate cat ear cleaner," this product is a flushing and drying solution that is good for cats with greasy ears, Whittenburg says, and it works for cats of any age or size. Not only is it formulated to clean, dry, acidify, and deodorize the ear canal, but it also removes dirt, ear, wax, debris … and soothes any minor skin irritations. (It really does do it all!)

Shop now: Great Pets Dog & Cat Ear Cleaner, $20; amazon.com

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Stratford Pharmaceuticals Ear Cleaning Solution

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"Gentle to the delicate ear canal, this cleanser is useful for uncomplicated ear cleansing and has a great scent," Whittenburg says. You can use this cleaner formulated with veterinary-grade ingredients for an effective clean—without any irritation. Recommended by top veterinarians in the U.S., this cleaner removes crust, scales, and odors from your cat's ears.

Shop now: Stratford Pharmaceuticals Ear Cleaning Solution, $12; amazon.com

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TrizULTRA + Keto Flush

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If your cat is no stranger to ear infections, Whittenburg recommends using this cleanser. Whether your cat has chronic ear infections or is experiencing one for the first time, this multipurpose flush will help soothe your cat's ears and restore them to good health. It's gentle, fragrance-free, and non-stinging. Safe for long-term use, this cleanser can be used on cats, dogs, and horses.

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Is your cat currently diagnosed with an ear infection? This medicated flush may aid in her treatment, Whittenburg says. Formulated with a balanced alkaline solution, it's safe for daily use with any other medicated topicals your cat may need and can help protect the skin.

Shop now: Animal Pharmaceuticals Ketomax, $20; amazon.com 

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Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner

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"A longtime favorite of veterinarians, this is a good all-around ear cleanser," Whittenburg says. This cleanser is purr-fect for routine use on sensitive ears and cats with chronic "otitis externa," or outer ear canal infections. This cleanser is gentle, effective, and safe to use with other ear preparations. It's made to prevent microbial attachment and get rid of any odor in your cat's ears.

Shop now: Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner, $19; chewy.com

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Another wonderful option for cats who have had ear infections, this cleanser helps keep your cat's ears healthy by flushing away dirt, debris, and wax to eliminate any irritation, scratching, and odor. Plus, your cat's ears will smell nice and fresh thanks to its delightful cucumber melon scent. This powerful and non-irritating flush is safe to use every day when warranted.

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VETNIQUE LABS Oticbliss Advanced Cleaning Ear Wipes

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Does your feline friend give major cattitude when you try to apply ear cleaner? These might just be a miracle for you (and your cat!). "These wipes can be a nice alternative to solution for cats who do not like solution in their ears," Whittenburg says.

Made with a gentle formula, you can clean your cat's ears worry-free (and hassle-free) knowing they won't cause any redness or irritation. These are not only convenient but also effective when it comes to clearing up any buildup and relieving your cat's discomfort. Clean and fragrance-free, these vet-formulated wipes are made with aloe vera and vitamins and are safe for routine ear cleaning. You can use these on cats—and dogs!—of all ages, sizes, and breeds.

Shop now: VETNIQUE LABS Oticbliss Advanced Cleaning Ear Wipes, $15; chewy.com