If you use q-tips to clean your ears, you’ve probably run into this scenario. Maybe you forget to throw your q-tip away, or you have a trash can that is easily accessible to your furry friends. You come in the room one day to find your q-tips have been chewed down to sticks. All of the cotton has been chewed clean off the q-tip, and it’s all mangled and gross. So now you’re wondering, why do cats like earwax?
Cats like earwax because the scent of the proteins in earwax spike their senses.
Let’s look at cats and their earwax obsession in a bit more detail.
What’s In Earwax?
We all know what earwax looks like but do you know what’s in earwax? One of the main components of earwax is dead skin cells that fall off in the ear canal. Those dead cells are then mixed with gland secretions.
Two different glands will contribute to earwax. One is the sebaceous gland, and the other is the ceruminous gland. The ceruminous gland is responsible for excreting sweat that is part of the earwax concoction. This specific gland sits in the external auditory canal.
The sebaceous gland is slightly different because these glands are located all over the body in areas covered with hair. These glands will secrete sebum, which is an oily substance. You’ll find these glands in the outer ear canal, where you notice the hair.
That mixture is full of some proteins, cholesterol, fatty acids, and typically some hair. All together, you have the magical concoction of earwax!
Why Do Cats Like The Smell Of Earwax?
Much like a human may enjoy the smell of bacon cooking in the morning or a lovely funnel cake at the fair, a cat likes the smell of earwax! It’s as if the aroma of earwax just pulls cats towards it.
You may already know that cats have an incredible sense of smell. When they get a whiff of the proteins that are in earwax, they can’t help themselves but make their way to smell it. It’s a familiar smell for cats because they can smell the proteins in their food as well.
Cats love the smell of earwax so much that you can use that to your advantage. If you poke your finger in your ear and get a little bit of earwax on it, your cat pal won’t be able to resist you. Even though the sound of that is extremely gross, it usually works.
Why Do Cat’s Like The Taste Of Earwax?
Much like a cat likes the smell of earwax, they also love the taste of earwax. This still goes back to them being drawn to the earwax due to the proteins in it. Have you ever smelled something being baked at home, and you just instantly crave it? That’s a similar experience with a cat’s intense sense of smell.
Cats have taste buds, but they don’t work the same way a human’s taste buds do. So what they’re interested in eating can be different than what we would go for. Your cat might snub their nose to a nice sweet treat, but a nice piece of earwax may be like a delicacy to them.
You have to think of the type of animal a cat is. In the wild, a cat is going to be prefer to eat meat. Just look at some of the big cats that are out there and what prey they choose. When they smell the proteins in earwax, it gives them the sense of that type of treat, so they’re drawn to it.
Why Do Cats Lick Human Ears?
One of the main reasons a cat will lick a human’s ear is because they are drawn to the scent of earwax. This doesn’t mean that you have an intense buildup of earwax luring your cat in for a little treat. Their sense of smell is so precise that even an average, healthy amount of earwax will grab their attention.
Aside from earwax, some may say that it is a sign of affection from your cat. They are known to cuddle and rub themselves on you as a way of showing love and essentially claiming you as their own, so it may have something to do with it.
Another reason may be they’re somewhat grooming you. Much like a mother cat will do to their kittens, they’re cleaning you up and bonding with you by giving you some kitty kisses. But overall, the main reason they’re attracted to that area, to begin with, is the scent of your earwax.
Is It Normal For Cats To Have Waxy Ears?
You might notice your cat is sniffing another cats ears as well, and that’s because cats also have a small amount of wax in their ears. While having a no earwax or a small amount in a healthy cat’s ear is normal, having a decent amount of earwax is not. Your cat’s ears should look nice and clear and have a pink tone to the skin.
Seeing a buildup of wax in your cat’s ears or noticing any type of odor coming from their ears are signs that something is wrong. When something seems abnormal with your cat’s ears, the best thing to do is to take them to a vet. They’ll be able to get to the bottom of the issue.
Two common problems that occur in a cat’s ears are ear mites and your common ear infection. Aside from being uncomfortable, if you don’t have these issues treated, you run the risk of having your cat lose hearing, feeling dizzy, and you may notice them excessively scratching at their ears because of their discomfort.
What Does Healthy Cat Ear Wax Look Like?
Considering cats may sniff each others ears, you’ll want to make sure their ears are healthy so your pets don’t get sick. Healthy cat ear wax will be a light or medium brown color. You may see a spot here and there in random places in your furry friend’s ears. However, don’t expect to see a lot of it in your cat’s ear.
Keep an eye on your cat’s ears when you’re holding them or even brushing them. As long as your cat maintains a nice pink tone to their ears and have little to no earwax in them, they should be in good shape.
You may notice unhealthy earwax if your cat has a health issue is a darker buildup, almost completely black. This can also be signs of ear mites or an ear infection.
Should You Clean Your Cat’s Ears?
If you have a healthy cat, then you most likely won’t need to clean their ears. You may notice a wax spot here and there, but overall they’re going to remain relatively clean all on their own. If you notice your cat’s ears are getting dirty to the point of needing a cleaning, it’s time to speak with your vet.
Cleaning your cat’s ears without clear instructions from a vet can be a disaster. You don’t want to injure your cat accidentally. For example, you never want to use a q-tip and shove it into a cat’s ear canal. You can easily hurt them and damage their hearing.
Your best bet is to visit your vet and speak with them about the proper way to clean your cat’s ears at home. This may involve some sort of ear wash or antibiotic to take care of whatever is causing their ears to be dirty in the first place.
Your vet will most likely take a few moments to clean their ears in the office and guide you step-by-step through how you can do it at home. Be sure to follow their instructions fully to prevent any damage to their ears.
Why Is Your Cat Licking Another Cat’s Ears?
If you have multiple cats, you’ve probably caught them licking each other’s ears at one point or another. You now know the secret to one of the reasons, which is their love for earwax. They do like other cat’s earwax.
Since you know your cats may be attracted to each other’s ears, it’s essential to make sure they’re in tip-top health. For example, if your cat is licking another cat’s ears and they have ear mites, you’re going to have an issue.
Ear mites are very contagious, so if your cat is that close to another cat’s ears, there’s a really good chance they’re going to get them. That will not be a fun time for your poor cat. It makes their ears extraordinarily itchy and uncomfortable.
Earwax isn’t the only reason they lick another cat’s ears. They can be doing this generally to groom them and as a way to bond with the other cat.
So there you have it! As gross as it may be, you now know why our beloved furry friends can’t get enough of some earwax!