Cats, like all animals, tend to do something that will terrify or surprise humans. It is the same way an animal will be surprised when humans take action. It is impossible to understand why animals behave the way they do, so the best we can do is develop conceptions to explain them.
Cats like earwax because it contains fatty acids, dead skin cells, and a small amount of cholesterol. All these are proteins, and the scent attracts cats to eat them. Your cats should not be allowed to lick your ears because the saliva they produce contains harmful bacteria.
Cats have one of the sharpest nasal organs of any pet, so you should not be surprised when your cat finds all kinds of items. Humans see Earwax as gross, but it is a protein-filled snack for cats. If you have wondered why your cat likes licking your ear, continue reading.
Why Do Cats Like Earwax?
As a cat owner, you should know that cats have a more superior sense of smell than humans. Cats have up to 200 million scent receptors, while humans have about 5 million. So, if you see your cat doing something or searching for something, it is attracted to it by the scent.
Another interesting fact about cats is that they have a second nose located on the roof of their mouth; it is referred to as the vomeronasal organ; it picks up scents that are undetectable to the regular receptors. With all these powerful organs, cats’ sense of smell is a powerful mechanism.
Earwax contains dead skin cells that fall off in the ear canal and are mixed with gland secretions. There are two different glands that mix with the dead skin cells, the ceruminous gland, and the sebaceous gland. The ceruminous gland secretes sweat (a component of earwax) and the sebaceous gland secretes sebum.
The mixture of dead skin cells and the gland secretions are filled with cholesterol, proteins, and fatty acids; this concoction produces earwax. Cats are attracted to the scent of this concoction. Cats can sniff the smell of protein, so they cannot help but locate the smell when they smell earwax.
Cats are not attracted to anything because of the taste. They have only about 500 taste buds, and humans have about 2000 to 5000 taste buds. This is why when you see a cat licking earwax, you will be irritated because you imagine the horrible taste, but cats are not moved by taste.
According to scientists, animal proteins are antimicrobial peptides, and about ten have been identified to be present in earwax. This will sound strange because the usual source of animal proteins are chicken, fish, and beef. Well, we live in a world full of mysteries and unexplainable phenomena.
You must have noticed your cat licking the ears of other cats; this is to get some of the earwax in them and to attach with the cat. Unlike human ears, which require regular cleaning, cats’ ears are self-cleaning. So, there is no need to try to clean your cat’s ears. However, if you notice a strange color or smell in your cats’ ears, take it to the vet.
You need to be careful with your cat licking other cats’ ears because if your cats contact ear mites, there is a high chance of you contacting them. So, you should try your best to make sure your cat and other cats around do not have ear mites. Ear mites make the ears uncomfortable and itchy.
Why Do Cats Lick Human Ears?
Cat owners have reported a common behavior of cats; they like licking their owners’ ears. This behavior can be a big cause of alarm if you are not knowledgeable. Your cat can decide to refuse a treat and settle for licking your ear, and unless you know why you will be worried.
Regardless of how frequently you clean your ears, there is still earwax in them; cats are drawn to the smell of earwax. They can perceive the protein lurking in earwax, something no human can perceive. Once your cat perceives earwax around, it will locate the earwax and lick it; most times, this will be your ears.
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Cats’ sense of smell is so precise that they can smell out an average amount of earwax anywhere in your home. So, you should not be surprised when your cat licks your ear; they tend to do it mostly at night when you are asleep because there is a reduced tendency for you to be aggressive at that time of the night.
Another reason cats lick human ears is to display affection. It is a way of bonding with their owners and other cats. Although the major reason why cats lick ears is for the earwax, this action also forms strong bonds between cats and their owners. When your cat is trying to lick your ears, it is not because it is dirty, but the earwax attracts it.
However, it is not advised to allow your cat to lick your ears frequently because there are bacteria in cats’ saliva that you should not allow to get into any tears or scrapes in your tissues. Cats also have stinky breaths, and you would not want to have those sticking with you.
How To Stop A Cat From Licking Earwax
Although it is impossible to stop your cat from eating earwax completely because it will lick other cats’ ears and yours too, you can curb the behavior, so your cat is not always licking ears. Here are some ways to keep your cat from eating earwax.
Use A Covered Can As A Garbage Can
It is best to keep your cat away from used Q-tips you dispose of in the trash can. Using an uncovered can to hold garbage is a bad idea if you have pets, especially cats, because they tend to slide it open and enter the can. However, a well-covered can keeps the cats from getting into the garbage. This keeps them away from used ear swabs and items that can be dangerous when ingested.
Redirect The Behavior
You can redirect the behavior rather than yell at your cat when it tries to lick your ears. Try to change the focus of your cat to something else. It is a good thing to always have enticing treats with you at all times. This is one of the most effective ways of redirecting a cat.
Store Items Creatively And Securely
It is best to store items you are not using in places your cats cannot reach. So, earbuds and hearing aids should be kept where your cats can never find them. You should also clean these items before storing them; this will get rid of the scent of earwax that attracts cats to them.
Can I Clean My Cat’s Ears?
It is not advised to clean a cat’s ears because they are self-cleaning. You may see a wax spot once in a while, but the ears will be clean for the most time. However, if your cat’s ears are getting dirty and require cleaning, you need to take your cat to the veterinary doctor for a checkup.
Cleaning a cat’s ear without instructions from a vet can end up badly. You could injure your cat and damage its hearing. It would be best if you never used a Q-tip to clean your cat’s ears. The vet will know the best way to clean your cat’s ears.
As strange as this may be, cats love earwax and are attracted to it the same way humans are attracted to a delicious burger. The scent of fatty acids, dead skin cells, and cholesterol appeals to cats. Nevertheless, you should keep a watchful eye on your cat to stop it from licking earwax all the time.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.