Dirty Ears In Sphynx Cats: Tips And Care Guide By A Vet

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Sphynx cats have large beautiful, and bat-like ears. Unfortunately, sometimes these ears are filled with brown gooey ear wax. But you don’t have to let dirty ears ruin your sphynx’s spectacular aesthetic impact! This article aims to answer all your sphynx-ear-related questions.

I bet this guy had his ears cleaned just before the photo shoot.

Why Is My Sphynx’s Ears Dirty All The Time?

Some sphynx cats are more prone to having dirty ears because they produce a larger amount of ear wax. In addition, their large ear pinna and lack of hair make wax build-up more noticeable. A large amount of ear wax is usually not a health concern, and regular ear cleaning will help prevent wax build-up.

Just like humans, cats produce ear wax all the time, and, similar to humans, some cats just produce more wax than others.

How Often Should I Clean My Sphynx’s Ears?

A sphynx cat’s ear should be cleaned at least once a week, ideally twice a week. Cleaning your sphynx’s ears regularly will help prevent ear wax from becoming extremely sticky and difficult to remove.

It is a good idea to make ear cleaning part of your sphynx’s grooming routine, for example, cleaning the ears before or after a bath or before or after brushing their teeth every 3-4 days.

What Can I Use To Clean My Sphynx’s Ears?


Epi-Otic is an excellent ear cleanser and is the best choice on this list. It contains salicylic acid that helps break down sticky wax and remove the build-up of sebum in the ears. It does not contain any antibiotics, which is ideal for regular use.


Vetoquinol contains denatured alcohol and lactic acid. The denatured alcohol helps dry the outer ear canal, and the lactic acid helps to acidify the pH of the surface of the ear canal. A lower pH is one of the skin’s natural defense mechanisms against infection.

Vetoquinol should not be used more than twice a week as the denatured alcohol can cause excessive drying of the skin inside the ear canal. This should also not be used if you suspect an ear infection or if there are any open wounds on or in the ear, as the alcohol will sting.


Zymox contains several enzymes that help break down wax and gently exfoliate the ear canal. It also contains alcohol as a drying ingredient, so it should not be used in cats that have an ear infection or open wounds in the ear.

Antiseptic Ear Wipes

Antiseptic ear wipes such as Vet’s Best are great for cleaning the outer ear and the pinna. It is not as effective as the liquid cleanser that can be used to clean deeper down the ear canal but works well to alternate with liquid ear cleansers every 2nd or third ear cleaning.

An Important Note On The Use Of Antibiotic-Containing Ointments:

Frequent use of ointments or other products containing antibiotics may cause bacteria to become resistant to that particular antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance is a major concern for human and animal health worldwide as we have already seen a massive uptick in the number of multi-drug resistant bacteria.

These multi-drug resistant bacteria can often reside in the ears of animals frequently exposed to topical antibiotics.

Please help fight antibiotic resistance by only using antibiotics prescribed by a licensed professional at the correct dose and for the specified time or number of days. Do not use as deemed necessary or discontinue if you think the infection has cleared.

There have already been several human deaths due to widespread infection by bacteria that could not be treated by any known antibiotics.

How To Clean Sphynx Ears

It is essential to try to make ear cleaning as comfortable as possible for your sphynx to prevent them from becoming aversive to ear cleaning in the future.

The gentle way to clean ears is to soak a cotton round with ear cleaner and then gently rub it against the outer ear canal, allowing some of the ear cleaning fluid to drip down the ear canal. You may have to repeat this process to remove stubborn sticky pieces of ear wax.

Another commonly used method to clean ears would be to squirt a small amount of ear cleanser directly into the ear canal and then massage the base of the ear, after which you will soak up the remaining ear cleanser along with the loosened debris with a cotton ball.

The second method does better at cleaning the deep ear canal; however, not all cats tolerate this method very well.

Most cats will shake their head after ear cleaning, so stand back and keep your mouth closed!

In the video below, the owner first squirts the solution into the ear and then cleans the outer ear canal using cotton rounds afterward.

How Do I Know If My Sphynx Has An Ear Infection?

Symptoms of ear infections in cats include head shaking or pawing at the ears, red and swollen ear canals, or a pungent odor. Ear infections are very painful, and veterinary care should be sought as soon as possible if you suspect an ear infection.

Ears filled with a large amount of sticky brown wax are not necessarily signs of an ear infection. However, a milky, yellow, or blood-tinged discharge is often seen in severe ear infections.

If an ear infection is not treated promptly with the appropriate treatment, it can extend from the outer ear (where most ear infections start) to the inner or middle ear (close to the brain), which can lead to hearing loss and neurological signs.

Yeast or Malassezia is one of the most common causes of an ear infection in sphynx cats. Sphynx cats typically have a much larger number of yeast living on their skin compared to furry-coated cats. If you would like to read more on yeast infections in sphynx cats, have a look at this article on the topic.

Is It Bad If I Get Water In My Sphynx’s Ears?

Avoid getting water in your Sphynx’s ears when bathing them, as this may predispose them to an ear infection. Dirty bath water inside the ear canal will create a wet bacteria-rich environment that may cause an ear infection.

You can place a cotton ball inside the ear while bathing them and clean the head using a damp wash cloth to avoid water getting into the ears. While a cotton ball will not prevent any water from getting into their ears, it will help absorb any accidental splashing.

How Do I Tell Whether My Sphynx Has Ear Mites?

Ear mites are usually not as apparent as skin mites and fleas. Symptoms of ear mites include severely itchy ears and head shaking. You may see brownish back coffee ground-like debris in the ears.

Ear mites can easily be diagnosed by your vet looking down the ear canal using an otoscope.

Luckily, ear mites are equally as easy to treat by using a cat-safe ectoparasiticide effective against ear mites such as Revolution. You can apply one drop to each ear’s pinna (outer part) and the rest to the top of the neck.


Despite their lack of fur, Sphynx cats are by no means low maintenance! Regularly cleaning your sphynx’s ears using a high-quality ear cleanser can prevent ear infections and keep their ears looking as fresh as a daisy.

If you would like to learn more about common skin conditions of sphynx cats, have a look at this article.


Dr. Annerien de Villiers

Dr. Annerien de Villiers graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Pretoria in 2018. She has since worked full-time in clinical practice tending to all kinds of companion animals in general practice. Serving the human-animal bond with care and compassion and making accurate information accessible to pet owners is at the heart of her driving force as a veterinarian.

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