Why Does My Cat Like Earwax?

Cats are very finicky and very peculiar creatures. Sometimes their behaviors are normal and obvious, while other times you’re left wondering “What on Earth are they doing?!” Your cat might stare at walls, they might lick blankets, and they might dig your Q-Tips out of the trash to start licking earwax off of them. 

Thankfully cats have been around for so long that veterinarians, biologists, zoologists, and cat experts have had plenty of time to do research and answer these questions! 

Your cat likes earwax because it is packed with animal proteins that smell delicious to them. Cats have evolved to have an AMAZING sense of smell and it’s how they’ve survived for thousands of years. Their keen sense of smell helps with everything from communication to finding food. 

A cat’s diet must be high in animal proteins. This high-protein drive makes them constantly seek out these animal proteins, both consciously and subconsciously. Earwax is made up of fatty proteins and dead skin cells and it simply smells delicious to cats.

Cats are Obligate Carnivores and that means the protein in their diets MUST come from animal proteins. Cats simply do not have the necessary digestive traits to break down plant-based proteins. 

Does My Cat Like Earwax From Other Animals?

Why do cats eat earwax?
Photo By: Francesco Ungaro via Pexels

It’s not just your earwax that a cat may be drawn to. If you’ve ever watched two cats grooming each other then you might have noticed them spending a lot of extra time around the ears. 

Similarly, if you’ve got a cat and a dog that get along well, you might have noticed your cat licking on, around, or inside your dog’s ears. Obviously this sounds disgusting to us humans, but for cats their nose tells them that earwax has ingredients that are part of their natural diet. 

Why Are Cats So Drawn To Earwax?

Us humans have about 10,000 taste buds on our tongues. These taste buds help us decide what is nutritious and what tastes good to us. Sadly what tastes good isn’t always going to be nutritious, which is one of the downsides of having so many taste buds.

Your cat on the other hand only has about 500 taste buds on their tongue. This means that their nose has to work extra hard when determining what is going to be healthy and nutritious to them. 

The smell of those proteins that we mentioned above enter your cat’s nose very quickly. A signal is then sent to their brain saying “Hey! This has protein in it! Hurry and eat it!”

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Is It Safe For My Cat To Eat My Earwax?

As we mentioned above, your earwax contains proteins that are a necessary part of your cat’s diet. However, no, you do not want to let your cat freely eat earwax.

For starters, your earwax composition contains cholesterol and fats. Your cat needs a very lean diet and you don’t want them getting unnecessary amounts of fat or cholesterol. 

Secondly, it’s not safe for you to have your cat regularly lick the insides of your ears. Your cat’s saliva contains bacteria. This bacteria can be harmful to humans. If this bacteria gets into any scrapes or tears in your ear’s tissue (even if the scrapes or tears are too small for you to see) then you’re going to be in for a really bad time. 

Don’t worry if you catch your cat stealing a lick of earwax or playing with a used Q-Tip. A little bit is to be expected, just don’t let them make earwax a part of their normal diet! 

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How Do I Stop My Cat From Eating Earwax?

Earwax is just an amazing treat for cats. The scent of those fatty acids, proteins, and dead skin cells is similar to how we feel about a freshly baked cake. 

Again, a few little nibbles here and there won’t be detrimental to your cat. But if their diet is starting to be problematic as they add more and more earwax to it then it might be time for an intervention of sorts. 

Behavior Redirection

Go and buy your kitty some of their favorite treats. This tactic works well if you get some treats that are super aromatic. They might smell bad to you but they smell amazing to your cat! Anytime they start trying to get into your ear (or the dog’s ears) redirect them to one of these tasty treats. 

Positive Reinforcement

Another way to get your kitty to stop eating earwax is with positively reinforcing non-earwax-eating behaviors. Positive reinforcement is a great way to get your cat to stop doing a number of unwanted behaviors. 

Proper Storage

If your cat is eating earwax off of other objects then you might need to reconsider your storage. For example, if your cat likes to chew your earbuds because of the wax remnants in them then you might want to consider keeping them in a jewelry box or a drawer that the cat can’t get into. 

Garbage Cans With Lids

If your cat is pulling used Q-Tips out of the trash can then it’s probably time to get a trash can with a lid. Flip-top lids might work for most cats and for others you might need to get one with a lid that needs to be lifted manually or with a foot pedal. 

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay via Pexels