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Why Do Cats Like Earwax

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cats are fascinated with earwax because the fats and proteins in it are tasty to them.
  • Cats have an exceptionally acute sense of smell, which is why they are attracted to the smell of earwax.
  • Earwax contains nutrients like dead skin cells and fatty acids, which are essential for a cat's health.
  • Cats may groom each other's ears to get closer to their loved ones and to find the tasty earwax.
  • It is safe for cats to eat earwax, but precautions should be taken to prevent them from eating other potentially harmful items.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Friday 23 February 2024
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
Why Do Cats Like Earwax
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Cats can be as sensitive to smell as dogs, but they don’t get as much credit for it. However, when cats use their adorable button noses to investigate areas that humans wouldn’t consider sniffable—such as ears—it can be a little unsettling. Why do some cats seem fascinated with earwax?

Why Does My Cat Like Earwax?

Fats and proteins in earwax are tasty to cats, so much so that their brains associate these nutrients with food. This is why cats love to lick each other’s ears—they’re simply trying to get a bite to eat! Here are three reasons why a cat likes to eat earwax:


Compared to other animals, cats have an exceptionally acute sense of smell. A cat’s sense of smell is unmatched by that of a human. They have more receptors in their nose, which are very good at identifying odors.

You may not find the earwax tasty, but it is fascinating to cats. Their primary motivation is the smell, and they do not care about the taste of earwax because they have poor taste buds. Perhaps your cat enjoys the scent of ear wax more than you realize.


Earwax is a waxy substance produced by glands inside the ear. It may not be the most appealing food for your cat, but it’s still essential to his health.

However, in 1991, a team of researchers from the University of Toronto deconstructed the organic composition of earwax, which can shed light on why it may be attracting your cat’s attention. Their study shows Earwax contains dead skin cells, fatty acids, and cholesterol.

These may not sound like the ingredients for a dish you would like to order, but they smell like survival to your cat. This is because felines are obligate carnivores, so they primarily eat meat to get the required nutrients.

As a result of the animal proteins in your earwax, your cat may be saying “Bon appétit!” to the bits, it finds in the bin and your ears.


If you have seen cats groom each other, you may have noticed that they spend a lot of time on each other’s ears. The earwax is tasty, but grooming helps cats get closer to their loved ones, including you.

If your cat keeps trying to clean out your ears, it is probably not trying to tell you that your ears are dirty but rather that there is something good in there. You might find this cute, or you might not, but it is usually not a good idea to let your cat do it. 

Cat saliva has bacteria that you do not want to get into any cuts or tears in your skin. Plus, many cats have pretty bad breath. In addition, most people think that cat dander allergies cause allergy symptoms. It is a protein in cats’ saliva that causes almost two-thirds of people to be allergic to cats.

So, if you or someone who likes to chew on their ears might be allergic to cats, you might want to gently tell the cat to lick something else or give it one of these cat toys.

Is It Okay For Cats To Eat Earwax?

Yes, as gross as it may sound, earwax is perfectly safe for your cat to eat. Cats’ stomachs are made to handle foods that are harder to digest than what people eat. Their wild diet consists almost entirely of raw meat and bones because they are obligate carnivores. 

Allowing them to eat the earwax they groom from their own and other cats’ ears is perfectly fine. That does not mean you should let your cat rummage through your trash after you have cleaned your ears. 

They might get in trouble if they steal used Q-tips from your garbage can. This is not because of earwax; they may ingest some cotton or paper parts, which can cause digestive problems.

So the next time you catch your cat swiping your Q-tips, you will want to take them away from it. But there is no need to worry if they are eating something while cleaning his ears.

How to Stop My Cat From Eating Earwax 

Earwax may not be harmful to your cat in and of itself, but if your cat refuses to stay out of your garbage can, you have a problem. Here are some ways to prevent your cat from eating earwax.

Tightly Cover the Bins

Protecting your trash cans from cats and other animals is as simple as putting a lid on them. This is smart because it prevents them from scavenging for things like dental floss, used earplugs, and discarded essential oil products, which can be harmful if ingested.

Use Creative Storage

Keep items like earbuds out of reach of the kitty when not in use. Remember to clean them, as earbuds are increasingly being blamed for human ear infections.

Redirect the Behavior

If you can not keep the kitty away from your ears, try redirecting the behavior by keeping some good stinky treats on hand. When she comes in for a sniff or lick, use these to direct her away from your ears. Hopefully, she will think these are better options.

Why Do Cats Like Earwax: FAQs 

If you want to know more about why cats like earwax, keep reading. We’ve compiled a list of common questions and answers to help you better understand this topic!

Does earwax taste good to cats?

For whatever reason, a cat might be interested in licking earwax from our ears; it is probably because earwax has a pleasant flavor to felines. Dead skin cells, fatty acids, and other proteins found in human earwax are a favorite treat for cats. Because of their exceptional sense of smell, they can detect and enhance delicious flavors.

Why do cats put their nose in your ear?

There are several possible reasons why your cat is licking your earwax. It can signify self-soothing behavior since cats tend to groom themselves when stressed. You may also act like a surrogate mother to them, creating an intense bond between you. They may also enjoy the taste of earwax’s fat and protein.

Is it OK for my cat to lick my ears?

Let it go for a while if your cat likes to lick your ear as a sign of affection. But if it gets out of hand, there are ways to stop the behavior. First, give your cat plenty of attention and time. Next, ensure that your cat has lots of toys and time to play. Lastly, leave used clothes around or use a scent spray to give off your scent in other ways.

Is earwax harmful to cats?

Since eating some earwax is a natural part of your cat’s grooming routine, do not worry if he eats a little. It is gross, but your best friend nibbling on some earwax is fine.

Can earwax make a cat deaf?

If the external ear canal gets clogged, it can lead to acquired deafness. An earache can result if the outer ear canal is inflamed for a long time, if there is too much ear wax, or if the tiny bones inside the ear are damaged.

So why do cats like ear wax? The short answer is because of the proteins in the ear wax. Cats also like eating each other’s earwax as a show of affection. This behavior may strengthen bonds between cats and make them less likely to fight one another.

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