cat ears

If you have a cat, you understand how meticulously careful they are when cleaning themselves. However, whether your cat is an indoor cat or an outdoor cat, you’ve noticed that your otherwise spotless cat has dirty ears, which makes you worried.

Should you be worried? And why are your cat’s ears so dirty? We’ll answer these questions and more below.

Why and Should I Worry?

First, even indoor cats have wax buildup in their ears, and it’s common for any cat to have some dirt in their ears. So, the short answer is no; you shouldn’t worry. However, if there’s a lot of dirt or the wax buildup is significant, there could be underlying causes, and you need to make an appointment with your vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Causes of Dirty Ears in Cats

When you look into your cat’s ears, they should be clean and pink, except for a little brown or black wax.

If your cat’s ears look dirty and have a ton of wax buildup, there are a few things it could be. Some of these conditions can be taken care of at home, and some require a vet’s attention.

Ear Mites

Ear Mites are parasites that live on cell fluids, skin, and debris inside your cat’s ears. Ear mites are highly contagious, and if one cat in your house has them, then it’s a pretty safe bet that all the cats in your home are infected. Mites look like your cat got coffee grinds in its ears and didn’t get them out.

Symptoms of your cat having ear mites, other than the appearance of dirt in its ears, include the cat shaking its head, flattening its ears, or rubbing its ears against things to stop the itching that mites cause.

You can get over-the-counter medications that claim to get rid of ear mites, but there’s no guarantee they will work. If you use one of these products and it doesn’t work, it’s best to take your cat to the vet for a prescription instead.

kitten with ear mites
Image courtesy of Shutterstock


Allergies can also cause dirt and wax buildup in your cat’s ears. Cats tend to run through the tall grass and flowers, which can easily transfer dirt and allergens to their ears

Instead of keeping your cat inside, which does not guarantee it won’t develop allergies, it’s wise to consult with your veterinarain for allergy meds for your kitty.

Ear Infection

An ear infection is another possible cause of dirt buildup in your cat’s ears. Most infections are caused by a buildup of yeast and bacteria. You’ve probably already guessed that you need to see your vet for a round of antibiotics for your feline friend if you think it might have an ear infection.

See Your Vet

While dirty ears can be treated at home in many cases, if the buildup of wax and dirt continues, it’s best to contact your vet for treatment. Also, you can’t truly know what’s causing the buildup and specks of dirt in your feline’s ears. Therefore, it’s better to take your feline to see the vet, just to be safe.


So, in answer to our questions, “Why are my cat’s ears so dirty,” and “Should I worry,” there’s no definitive answer. There are a few different causes for dirt in your cat’s ears, and you shouldn’t worry, but it’s best to visit the vet to see just what the issue is for the best results.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay