The Surprising Reason Cats Like Earwax

The Surprising Reason Cats Like Earwax

Published by: Tatsiana Korshik

Time to Read: 3 Min

The Surprising Reason Cats Like Earwax
Many cat behaviors are fascinating, including their tendency to be intrigued by earwax. Surprisingly, this habit is quite common and not as strange as it may seem. Cats are naturally drawn to the odor and protein-rich nature of earwax. However, if your cat suddenly shows a keen interest in ear discharge, it could indicate underlying health issues.

Cats are known for their quirky behaviors, and one of the more unusual ones is their fascination with earwax. But why do cats love earwax? There are a few reasons that may explain this curious habit.

Why Do Cats Like Earwax?

1. Taste Preference: Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet must consist primarily of meat to meet their nutritional needs. Meat is rich in proteins and fats, which are essential for their health. While earwax may not seem like a typical source of food, it contains organic compounds that are similar to those found in meat. These compounds, including dead skin cells, fatty acids, and cholesterol, may be appealing to cats due to their nutrient content.

2. Scent Attraction: Cats have a highly developed sense of smell, which is their primary means of gathering information about their environment. They use scent to identify other animals, including potential prey and predators, as well as to communicate with other cats. Earwax, being rich in proteins and fats, may emit a scent that some cats find attractive. This may be particularly true for cats that are more scent-driven or have a strong sense of smell.

3. Grooming Behavior: Grooming is a natural behavior for cats and serves several purposes. It helps them maintain their coat and skin health, regulates body temperature, and helps them relax. Cats also groom each other as a form of social bonding, known as allogrooming. When a cat licks your ears, it may be a sign of affection and a way for them to bond with you. Additionally, grooming can be a soothing and calming behavior for cats, so they may groom you as a way to relax and show affection.

4. Nutritional Instincts: Cats' wild ancestors were hunters, and their diet consisted mainly of meat. This evolutionary history has shaped cats' nutritional instincts, driving them to seek out protein-rich foods. While domestic cats may not need to hunt for their food, they still retain these instincts. Earwax, with its protein and fat content, may trigger these instincts in some cats, leading them to be attracted to it as a potential food source.

Is Human Earwax Bad for Cats?

Human earwax is not harmful to cats if ingested in small amounts. However, it's not recommended to allow your cat to regularly consume earwax. While earwax itself is not toxic to cats, excessive consumption could potentially lead to gastrointestinal upset or other digestive issues.

It's important to note that if your cat is showing a sudden interest in earwax or is exhibiting unusual behavior, it's a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. They can provide advice specific to your cat's health and well-being

How Can I Stop My Cat From Eating Earwax?

When your cat is driven by a strong instinct, it can be challenging to redirect their behavior. Try redirecting their licking towards other rewarding activities, such as new toys or puzzle feeders. You can also try offering smelly treats or textured licking mats, which can entice them to spend time licking canned cat food from the crevices.

If you notice your cat nibbling at Q-tips (cotton ear cleaning buds), this could be concerning. Q-tips, ear pods, ear plugs, or anything smelling of protein-rich earwax might appeal to your cat but could cause an intestinal obstruction if eaten. To prevent access to these objects, place used Q-tips in a lidded trash can and store earbuds in a secure case.

It's important to prevent cats from licking another cat's or a person's ears if they have used a cleaner or medicated drops. This prevents them from ingesting any of the solution.


In conclusion, cats' attraction to earwax can be attributed to a combination of their taste preferences, scent attraction, grooming behavior, and nutritional instincts. While this behavior may seem unusual to us, it is a natural and instinctive behavior for cats.