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Why Do Cats Like Earwax
You're not the only one if you've observed that your cats appear to have a thing for earlobes and earwax. Many cat owners initially become aware of it when observing their cats grooming. Cats frequently appear to spend more time grooming their ears, interior and exterior, than any other body part.
Another frequent event is finding that your cat has rummaged through the garbage to get the discarded Q-tips that you previously used to clean your ears. Does it appear that a trend is growing? In actuality, cats are attracted to earwax.
They genuinely enjoy the waxy, golden substance; this isn't just in your brain. But to understand why we must examine cats and earwax more closely.
Sharing your bed, couch, lap, and even some of your food with your purring friend has probably become second nature if you're fortunate enough to have a cat as a pet. But what if your cat requests some of your earwax as well? Is that going a little too far in terms of the parameters of the relationship (and possibly your gag reflex)
Although hunting for earwax may seem like an odd pastime for your cat, there are some surprisingly valid explanations for its allure. We also have some suggestions for deterrence, whether your cat is digging in the garbage or straight in your ears.
What Are The Components Of Earwax?
You probably haven't given your earwax much thought, which is fine. Most of the time, it is just another piece of trash your body produces. Remove it, discard it, and stop thinking about it. But you might be surprised to learn that there is more in your earwax. Dead skin cells from the interior of your ears can be found in earwax. Along with cholesterol, fatty acids build up in earwax.
The Reason Cats Enjoy Earwax
Even though we wouldn't consider earwax a food, the lipids and proteins in these substances provide nutritional benefits to cats. Cats are drawn to it instinctively because of this.
These proteins and fats draw them in because their brains unconsciously interpret them as providing sustenance. This explains why you'll often see cats frantically licking one other's ears. They're attempting to eat!
Why Are Cats Attracted To Earwax?
But how is the aroma of these fats and proteins so perceptible to a cat's nose? Cats seem to have developed an exceptionally keen sense of smell to compensate for their lack of taste buds.
Cats only have 500 taste buds compared to humans' 10,000 on average! They are drawn to the sources of sustenance they require as a result of their noses' increased effort.
Cats can taste nothing sweet. The proteins and fats in earwax, for example, are what draws them in. Since cats have fewer scent receptors than dogs, their sense of smell is much weaker. However, cats' noses may be more refined.
This is because, like how our noses improve our eating experiences, cats employ their sense of smell to compensate for their lack of taste. Hold your nose while eating something if you've never tried it before. When the aroma is taken out, you'll be surprised at how little you taste it.
What Happens If Your Cat Attempts To Lick Your Ears?
Grooming is frequently a shared activity for cats. They are after more than just connecting when they pierce one other's ears, though. Therefore, when your cat starts licking in your ears, you can mistake it for an attempt at bonding. They can smell inside your ear when they attempt to get something tasty. It can appear disgusting, but that is the situation as it is.
Is it okay to let your cat interact with you in this way? I doubt it. You don't want any bacteria in your cat's saliva, which is loaded with minute abrasions that you might not be aware of, to enter your circulation.
Furthermore, the allergen responsible for two-thirds of cat allergies is in cat saliva. It's not the safest action to spray your ear canal with that allergy at a high dosage. Cat breath smells bad, further persuading you to keep your distance.
Some Other Reasons
Your cat is neither crazy nor alone if he enjoys eating earwax. There are two main reasons why you might have a real-life cat thief stealing your cotton swabs or earlobes on the loose:
1. Your Cat Eats Earwax As Part Of Its Diet
It may not sound like the best cat food competition, but glands in the ear canal create earwax, also known as cerumen, a waxy, protective oil. However, in 1991, researchers from the University of Toronto dissected the organic makeup of earwax, which may help explain why your cat could be interested in it. They discovered that earwax contains dead skin cells, fatty acids, and cholesterol, among other things.
To your cat, these components may not smell like something you'd want to put in a dish, but they smell like survival. Because they must eat meat primarily to obtain the nutrients they require, cats are obligate carnivores. As a result, the animal proteins in your earwax may cause your cat to exclaim, “Bon appétit!” when he finds morsels in your ears or the trash.
2. One Of Your Cat's Love Languages Is Earwax
If your cat seems interested in your lobes regarding earwax, the substance itself might not even be the main factor. Your cat can groom you out of love for you rather than because you're dirty.
According to Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC, author and proprietor of Cat Habit Associates, “All grooming [i.e. grooming that occurs between members of the same species] is a common behavior among cats.”
The scent is one of the cats' most crucial tools for identification and recognition. Therefore, grooming one another helps develop a common communal scent for familiarity in an outdoor colony. She says, “And when cats groom, they usually cling to the areas around the head.”
However, Johnson-Bennett explains that the activity goes beyond producing a collective fragrance in some cats. All grooming is a display of affection in connected cats. According to Johnson-Bennett, most cats who groom their owners' heads and faces, including the ears, do so out of affection rather than to clean their ears of earwax.
In other words, your cat considers you a close friend rather than just another cat. Oh no, shucks. What you initially found repulsive is quite endearing (though we completely understand if you still prefer sonnets and flowers as signs of affection).
Is Human Earwax Harmful To Cats?
The solution is uncomplicated: Cats are not harmed by eating human earwax. Their appetite is the only thing this conduct is likely to harm.
How To Stop Your Cat From Obsessing Over Earwax
Even though earwax may not be dangerous to your cat in and of itself, it is a problem if your cat won't keep out of the trash. Johnson-Bennett explains that going into the trash is never safe for cats due to materials like dental floss, razor blades, and more.
Furthermore, even if your cat might be interested in the wax on your used cotton swabs, there's a good probability that some or all of that object will wind up in your cat's stomach.
If your cat is determined to check the trash for soiled ear swabs, Johnson-Bennett says, “make sure the bin has a lockable cover or keep it enclosed in a cupboard.” And if your cat manages to open the cabinet door, she advises adding a low-cost but incredibly powerful childproof latch.
Some steps you can take if your cat is more prone to all grooming and is starting to annoy you rather than charm you. Johnson-Bennett says, “For those cats fixated on an owner's ears, I advocate shifting attention toward more practical activities like food-dispensing toys. Several puzzle feeders toys are available, and owners can choose the best one for their cat's skill level.
This diversion is a terrific way to maintain your relationship with your cat and keep your ears dry. The Lickimat is yet another entertaining choice for keeping your cat's tongue out of your face. According to Johnson-Bennett, “there are numerous kinds available, and all the owner needs to do is spread a little wet cat food on the plastic mat.”
Cats have highly evolved olfactory systems, which enable them to learn all kinds of things with their adorable little button noses. Dogs typically receive all the limelight for their adept sniffers.
However, when those adorable button noses bring kittens to something that humans might not find naturally odoriferous, such as ears and the items that can protrude from them, it can be a little unsettling. What is it about earwax that causes some cats to become so excited?
Earwax Smells Wonderful To Cats
Earwax smells wonderful to cats, which is the most straightforward explanation and one with some scientific support. If you give it some thought, you'll realize that earwax is composed of dead skin cells, fatty acids, and other substances and doesn't smell bad (if it does, you should have it checked).
Cats are naturally driven to and dependent upon animal proteins, so this combination—whether it involves grabbing your ears, your dog's ears, or the ears of another cat—is just a source of protein to them.
Kittens don't taste things the same way as we do since they only have about 500 tastebuds, compared to humans' 2,000–5,000. For instance, things don't taste as “sweet” to cats. So if you have a cat who enjoys cake icing, it's probably the fat rather than the sweetness of the sugar that has drawn her.
Cats don't have taste buds, but they have an excellent sense of smell that helps them find food. Although cats have fewer scent receptors than dogs, they may be “better at differentiating between distinct odours,” according to Dr. Carly Patterson, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
Though some may interpret this as evidence that cats are pickier than dogs regarding what they eat—like poo—it merely demonstrates that cats rely more on their noses than their tongues to detect flavour.
So, anything that smells like fats or proteins will be delicious to cats, whether it's a can of cat food or, in the case of this conversation, your headphones that have been covered in earwax.
When cats groom one another, you probably observe they spend a lot of time on each other's ears. In addition to the delicious earwax, cats and their loved ones—including you—develop stronger ties when groomed.
Your cat may not be attempting to tell you that your ears are dirty, only that there is some nice things inside if she is determined to clean out your ears. Even if you might or might not think this is adorable, it's generally not a good idea to allow your cat to do it.
Along with having a lot of foul breath, cat saliva carries bacteria that you wouldn't want to get into any cuts or tears in your tissue. Additionally, contrary to popular opinion, a protein in cat saliva is what causes roughly two-thirds of human allergies to cats, not cat dandruff. Therefore, you might want to gently nudge your cat away from your ears or give them one of these cat toys if you or someone else who likes to chew on your ears has kitty allergies.
Does My Cat Have Ear Wax?
Although cats may produce earwax, you shouldn't have to wipe your cat's ears unless you notice a particular scent or hue within. Cats' ears are also fairly good at keeping themselves clean. There may only be a lot of dirt in certain instances, but there may also be more significant issues, such as an infection brought on by mites.
Since ear infections in cats are less often than in dogs, according to the professionals at VCA Animal Hospitals, bring your cat in for a checkup if you're worried. When your cat has had an opportunity to be examined by the vet, they will be able to advise you on whether and how to clean your cat's ears. PetMD even has helpful instructions on how to do this if you need a refresher.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Stop My Cat From Consuming Earwax?
Purchase a covered or flip-lid trash can for your bathroom. A covered trash can prevents cats from accessing or tipping over your disposables. In addition to keeping used ear swabs out of their paws, this is a smart idea to keep them safe from other objects that could be harmful if swallowed, such as dental floss, old earplugs, or expired goods containing essential oils.
Store items like earbuds outside the kitty's reach when not in use. Remember to clean them as well, as earbuds are increasingly thought to cause ear infections.
If you can't stop your cat from pawing at your ears, consider redirecting the activity by keeping some tasty, stinky snacks on hand. Use these to direct her away from your ears when she sniffs or licks them. We can only hope that she will find these a better option.
How frequently do you bring your cat to the vet? In honour of National Cat Health Month, we want to kindly remind you that preventative treatment is crucial, even if your cat doesn't seem to be ill.
Here Are 10 Methods To Keep Your Cat Healthy In Between Trips To The Vet
1. Regularly Groom Your Cat
Your cat will gain a lot from brushing or combing, regardless of whether he has short or long fur. This assists in getting rid of the dead hair from his coat so he won't eat it while grooming himself. It also gives you a chance to see any physical alterations in him. Your veterinarian can immediately look into any irregularities, like lumps, pimples, or tender places.
2. Consistently Provide Fresh Water
Water that is clean and fresh is crucial for your cat's wellness. If your cat doesn't seem to enjoy drinking from a bowl, maybe give her a tall glass to drink from (some cats prefer not to stoop down to do so) or a cat fountain. Every day, make sure to replenish the water with new supplies.
3. Verify That There Are Enough Litter Boxes
One litter box for every cat, plus one additional, is the typical rule of thumb. Therefore, if you have two cats, you need three litter boxes. Keep the litter boxes tidy to promote excellent litter box behaviours. This can include scooping multiple times daily. Regular cleaning will also enable you to spot any variations in your cat's feces or pee that can point to a health problem.
4. Keep An Eye Out To See If Your Cat Starts Going Outside The Litter Box
If the litter box is unclean, a cat might occasionally urinate elsewhere. However, make an appointment with the veterinarian before you assign the accident to your cat's mischievous nature or the condition of the litter box. Sometimes a cat's altered litter box habits indicate that it has a urinary tract infection or another medical disease.
5. Make Sure Your Cat Knows How To Use A Scratching Post
This will keep your furniture from becoming damaged, and your cat's muscles lose and claws healthy. Regular scratching helps your cat's claws shed their old coats on a suitable surface like carpet, sisal, or cardboard.
6. Transport Cats In A Cat Carrier
Do you need to take your cat to the vet? Maybe you're relocating to a new house? Use a pet-specific carrier while transporting your cat. Allowing your cat to roam freely in the car might make it difficult for you to drive defensively, which may result in collisions that could be dangerous for you and your cat.
7. Keep Your Cat's Teeth Clean
Like people, cats can build tartar on their teeth, resulting in gum disease and dental rot. In addition to entering your cat's circulation, the bacteria that build up on her teeth can also cause various feline ailments. Cats cannot, however, wash their teeth the way people can. Many cats also refuse to have their teeth brushed by their owners. Make an appointment with your veterinarian for a cleaning at least once a year to keep your cat's teeth in excellent condition.
8. Pick A Vet Who Welcomes Cats
It should be obvious that cats are not little replicas of dogs. So it stands to reason that cats require extra veterinarian care than dogs. To keep your cat in the greatest health possible, a veterinarian specializing in feline anatomy and health might be a useful ally. You can locate a veterinarian by going to the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
9. Plan Routine Veterinary Checkups
With annual visits, veterinarians can deliver immunizations, clean the cat's teeth, and spot any potential feline ailments early. If your cat is at a healthy weight, your veterinarian can also let you know.
10. Neuter Or Spay Your Pet
Both male and female cats can have reproductive illnesses. In contrast to neutering, which protects male cats from testicular cancer and some prostate issues, spaying protects female cats from uterine infections, ovarian malignancies, and breast tumours.
The procedures also lessen a male cat's desire to travel and, if carried out early enough in life, may remove his desire to spray to demarcate territory. The best advantage? Your cat won't add to the problem of pet overpopulation.
Cats do enjoy earwax, as it turns out. A cat can't help but be drawn in by the aroma of all the dead skin cells, fatty acids, and cholesterol. So now you understand why your cats may be excessively grooming their ears or chasing after your used Q-tips. There is no cause for concern. However, just as a general safety precaution, you probably shouldn't allow your cat to go after the wax that is still within your ears.
I trust you enjoyed this article on Why Do Cats Like Earwax? Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly. Take care!
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