Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your cat.

Medicating Ears


Before medicating ears, one cleans them out. This is so that debris is removed and the medication can then contact the ear canal properly. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication for ear infections or other ear conditions. As long as you cat is not in too much pain, she should tolerate ear treatments quite well.

Ask your veterinarian to demonstrate ear cleaning while you and the cat are still at the veterinary facility, and try ear cleaning yourself while there too. That way, any awkward aspects of the procedure can be worked out, and your questions can get answered.

Tips for Ear Medicating:

  • Have the medication within easy reach.
  • Warm it up to room temperature (or even body temperature) before instilling it to help reduce the “cold shock” reaction.
  • It is ideal to have a family member or friend help by holding your cat. A soft bath towel wrapped snugly around, with only the head out can help too. Steadying the cat will make her feel more secure, and keep her from skittering away. A towel (or your capable assistant) can also help keep those claws out of commission.
  • Be gentle when handling the ears as they are delicate and highly sensitive.
  • If you are going to be handling her for medicating ears regularly and she is the scratching type, keep her claws trimmed short or covered with Soft Paws® so the likelihood of a scratch to you or your assistant is reduced.
  • Do not proceed if you think she might bite you or your assistant. Contact your veterinarian for help.
  • Do not shove the medication nozzle tip down deep into the canal as it may go too far and damage or tear the ear canal lining if she moves quickly and vigorously.
  • Avoid hitting the small ear hairs with the nozzle tip as this tends to make her shake her head—it tickles.
  • Avoid pulling out and up on the ear. This straightens the ear canal out. That can lead to the nozzle going too far in—take the ear up and over the head instead.
  • As you instill the medication, take a little bit of the loose skin located in the area between the ears and steady it between your fingers of the hand you are holding the ear with. This helps you move along with the cat if she suddenly moves. Otherwise, you might find yourself pulling the ear as she moves away, hurting her.
  • Count the number of drops prescribed to avoid under-medicating or overdosing.
  • Give all doses prescribed.
  • Massage the base of the ear gently after the medication is instilled. This will help distribute the drops of medicine evenly over the tissues.
  • Choose a location for the ear treatment that has a surface that can be easily cleaned. Cats will commonly shake their head vigorously after the medicine has been instilled. This can lead to droplets spraying around the area—your clothes, your fine rugs, furniture or drapes are all easy targets! Some medicines stain so it is essential to watch out for valuables or delicate fabrics.
  • If your cat seems to be particularly sore when the drops go in or right after treating, contact your veterinarian promptly as this might indicate a broken ear drum or ear canal ulcers. If the medication goes too deep, it can lead to serious pain. As well, some cats have sensitivity, or even an allergy to some ear preparations. In that case, your veterinarian will try another brand or type of therapy.
  • Praise her when she sits quietly for the procedure.

Ear Cleaning Procedure:

Step 1: First clean the ears.


Step 2: Medicate.


Instill drops as per prescription label with ear held up and over the head—using baby fingers to gently grasp the skin between the ears to help you follow the ear/head if she moves suddenly.

Then massage the base of ears to distribute medication evenly.

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.