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  • Kristin L., CVT

Cat Skin and Ear Health: Essential Tips for a Happy and Healthy Cat

Cleaning Your Cat's Ears

Cats usually do a great job cleaning themselves, but sometimes they may need help in hard-to-reach places. Not all cats need their ears cleaned. There are many different underlying health reasons that may cause a cat to need their ears cleaned. It is important to keep an eye on your cat’s ears to make sure you catch any symptoms they may develop. If you notice these symptoms, then seek care from your veterinarian.

Ear Issues in Cats

While you may not need to clean your cat's ear's regularly, it is a good idea to check them routinely. If you see any of the following signs, it's worth a closer look.

  • Debris in the ears (especially dark-colored debris)

  • Foul odor

  • Ear scratching

  • Scabs on their face or behind ears (may indicate scratching)

  • Shaking their heads

  • Holding their ears in a strange position.

Any of those symptoms may indicate a problem in the cat’s ears that requires attention. If you notice any of those symptoms, it is time to visit the veterinarian to diagnose the issue and get some treatment.

Possible causes of ear problems in cats

  • Ear mites

  • Ear infections caused by yeast or bacteria

  • Food allergies.

The habits and lifestyle of the cat will also be a factor in determining if your cat requires regular ear cleanings. Outside cats may need cleanings as they tend to get dirt in their ears and are exposed to the elements more often. Food allergy cats will also require regular treatment if their allergies are poorly controlled. Food allergies are complicated, and it is best to consult your veterinarian.

Skin and Coat Health

Grooming Tips

Along with food allergies and dirty ears come skin issues. Healthy cats will typically groom themselves without requiring baths or skin treatments. However, if you notice their coat seems rough or greasy, this is a sign that your cat may not be grooming themselves properly. If that is the case, there is often an underlying issue, and a veterinary visit would be advised.

It is important to brush long or medium-haired cats. Keep an eye on their fur to make sure they don’t develop mats or hairballs.

Mats occur when their hair becomes entangled and forms a firm clump of fur. Be sure to check their belly and armpits for mats as well. Mats can become very painful and cause skin irritation if left untreated. Brushing and combing will prevent the mats, but it is important to comb them out gently or have your cat groomed. Some long-haired cats even require complete shave-downs if they cannot keep up with the grooming themselves. Frequent brushing should help prevent mats from forming.

Flea Prevention

Be sure to keep all your cats on a flea preventative all year round. Fleas are a common cause of skin issues, and yes, indoor cats do still get fleas frequently. Fleas can get tracked into the house at any time. There are several great products to help prevent and treat fleas. If your cat seems itchy and is losing hair, it is best to seek veterinary care. Ask your veterinarian about the best products, and do not attempt to make any home remedies or use dog preventatives on your cat. If all animals in the household are on a flea preventative, it will help protect your pets and your cat’s skin.

Orange cat grooming itself


Overgrooming is when a cat grooms so much they cause hair loss and sores on their body. If you notice this, it is important to seek veterinary care. Cats may overgroom for many reasons. Anxiety and pain are common causes of overgrooming. Cats are sensitive creatures and are easily stressed by change. Always be mindful of your cat’s coat health. It is more important than it seems. A cat’s coat health often represents their physical and mental health.


Cats do a great job of cleaning themselves. It is not recommended that your cat be bathed unless there is a medical necessity. Trying to bathe your cat will only cause more stress and is unnecessary.

Cat’s skin and ear health can be easily summed up with the main principle of seeking veterinary care if you notice any abnormalities. Cats take good care of themselves, and if they seem like they are struggling, there is often an underlying cause that shouldn’t be ignored. So pay close attention to your cat; you can stay on top of their health and comfort. If you have any questions, our team is here for you 24/7!


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