General Question

ninja_man's avatar

Is it safe to use rubbing alcohol to clean a cats ears?

Asked by ninja_man (1133points) June 20th, 2010

Would it harm my cat were I to use rubbing alcohol as a pre-cleaning treatment prior to applying mite medicine to her ears?

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13 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I think witch-hazel is preferable.

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Merriment's avatar

If she is inflamed and raw in there she is not going to love you for that! good news is you will have the alcohol handy to apply to your wounds

When my dog, who has frequent ear issues, has dirty ears I use diaper wipes to clean them. They are formulated not to send a raw butted baby through the roof so they are gentle to her owie ears.

If you haven’t got any baby wipes and have to do it now you may just want to use warm water with a dash of white vinegar and 2 drops of baby shampoo instead.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Try mineral oil, which you can apply by a dropper, then rub the ear gently. This was recommended to me by a vet.

Facade's avatar

I’m with @dpworkin about the witch hazel.

Coloma's avatar

Oily substances will suffocate any ear mites such as the mineral oil.

Otherwise use diluted hydrogen peroxide..50–50 and a cotton ball…only clean the outter ear and do not use a Q-tip that could poke too deeply.

Scooby's avatar

You can purchase ear mite treatments from your usual pet supply store or your vet will prescribe an oily insecticide to clean the ear canals. All ear exudates has to be cleaned from the ear canal daily. The medication should massaged deeply into the cat’s ear taking care to get into all the nooks and crannies of the ear canal. It is important to follow your vets or the products instructions for the application of the treatment as you need to beat the ear mite’s life cycle.
Revolution is another option. It is a Parasiticide that is applied to the skin of cats six weeks of age and older. Revolution is used to prevent heartworm disease, kills adult fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching and treats and prevents ear mite infestation.
Your cat might also require antibiotics for secondary infections :-/

syz's avatar

If you must use alcohol, you need to dilute it 10 to 1. It will help act as a drying agent, but it will hurt.

Do not use hydrogen peroxide – it actually damages tissue and shouldn’t be use on wounds, either.

What mite medication are you using? In the bad old days, we had to use a product that was applied over a period of days, and then repeated in two weeks. The treatment and cleaning (as well as the condition) was so painful that most cats came to fear and resent their owners, and some would self mutilate the exterior of their ears from the pain. This sort of treatment is the only sort of thing that you’ll be able to get over the counter, and I do not recommend that route.

Happily, there are now several much more humane and much more effective products available. Acarexx is a product that does not require that the ear be cleaned out before use, and yet it still works very well. Treat once, then repeat in 2 weeks. MilbeMite works the same way. both of these products can be obtained from your veterinarian.

Another option is an injection of ivermectin from your vet. It’s off label use, but it’s very effective and economical.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I would like to reiterate.. my cat had a decent case of ear mites. I had two vets tell me to apply a treatment of mineral oil for a few days before the ear mite medication. You put in a drop or two, rub the base of the ear to get it into the ear canal to suffocate the mites, then use a towel or soft cloth to clean the gunk out. What this does is help get out the gunk covering the skin inside the ears (in addition to the help of mite suffocation), thereby making the medication more effective.

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Petcompanion's avatar

I’m not sure it is safe, for either you or your cat, to use rubbing article. It stings! I know that I’ve used a holistic treatment for ear mites in my cat that was called ER Drops. I think I got it online from Petwellbeing – I buy most of my pets holistic treatments there. Its worth looking into if you are concerned in any way about what the vet has given you.

truepurple's avatar

Alcohol can be absorbed through some of the thinner membranes of a body, it can actually seep in through thin skin. Cat ears on the inside have thin skin, one can just see this by looking at them.

Cats and dogs are especially bad at metabolizing even regular ethanol alcohol, much less isopropyl alcohol which will leak into their system applying it on such thin skin. Also cats groom themselves and that will also work its way into their system. Also alchohol, just like hydrogen peroxide, kills cells/damages tissue, that is why it stings when you apply it, and should not be used for wounds or cleaning the body, period. Use it for disinfecting tools or cleaning object, but not wounds or the body, human or cat etc.

Drowning/suffocating fleas, mites and other surface infections is a very reliable and safe way to solve these infections. The poison method can and does result in resistant strains. My kids have repeatedly gotten fleas from school, the flea treatment doesn’t work on these any more, but oil does. Coconut oil or mineral oil is best, but any oil can work.(some types bubble easier, leaving little pockets of air for the infestors to survive in) It doesn’t kill the eggs I think, but repeated application over a full life cycle of what evers on your pet or you, will eventually kill all of them. It’s also much cheaper and doesn’t involve putting pesticide into your cats system (again, cats groom) Coconut oil is much cheaper than mineral oil and should work just as well or better

If you feel you should wash the area before applying treatment (unless necessary maybe if lots of loose hair) Use soap and water, and dry thoroughly first.

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