Why Do Cats Like Earwax?

Cats are cute and furry, but one bizarre behaviour, in particular, is earwax licking and eating. Some cats go crazy for it. Have you ever had your head on the pillow, and along comes your cat for a little sniff? Or accidentally left a Q-tip out, and your cat has enjoyed it like a lollypop?. Let’s say it’s very strange to us humans. However, not all cats show this type of behaviour, but they’re certainly the odd few cats that do. Out of the nine cats I had when I was growing up, I could name three that have done this before. 

A cat likes earwax because it tastes pleasant and smells sweet to them. In addition, the fatty acids, dirt, and cholesterol found in earwax draws them to it.

The above explains why cats love ear wax; however, let’s dive into each one and present in much more detail why it tastes and smells so good to a cat, and why they would groom a human companions ear of its wax or lick a Q-tip. 

Why does ear wax smell good to a cat?

To find this out, we need to look a little bit more into the sense of smell of a cat. Did you know that a cat has up to sixteen times stronger smell than us humans?. Cats also have a more extensive olfactory epithelium than humans. The olfactory epithelium is a particular part inside the nasal cavity that sends messages straight to the brain, regarding different smells. A cats olfactory epithelium is around 20cm2, while ours is only 9cm2. Thats nearly double the size. More room for more receptors to link to the brain from the olfactory epithelium. Now we know that Cats are built a little different to us in regards to the smelling department. To us, humans earwax does not smell great, or in some cases, doesn’t smell at all.

On the other hand, your cat is entirely equipped with a strong sense of smell to pick up on the ear wax’s sweet scent of proteins. Having a strong sense of smell will also contribute to the flavour and taste of different food. Did you know that if you lost your sense of smell, it would affect your taste of foods? The earwax must be tasty for a cat, and their strong sense of smell has helped this be. 

However, dogs have an even greater sense of smell, but on the flip side, they dont appear to like to eat earwax as much as cats do. Could it be that their sense of smell is that strong, that the earwax comes off smelling worse and tasting disgusting? I guess to find that middle ground is where you need to be to enjoy some earwax. 

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Grooming us of earwax

I guarantee you at the top of my cat’s to-do list today is grooming himself several times. Cats love to groom themselves; they practically could do it all day long. 

Licking us in the ear is a sign of affection because when they were kittens, Cats would have got groomed by their mothers, and they have picked up this from an early age that grooming is a part of everyday life, plus being a sign of love. 

Cats will groom themselves to keep themselves clean, by removing dead cells, dirt, improving their coat, regulating their body temperature, eliminating unwanted scents and spreading their natural oils.

How long do cats groom themselves? 

An average healthy adult cat spends at least five hours a day grooming itself. The older they get, the less they groom. 

Cat grooming himself cleaning his body on grey wall background. Bengal cat
Cats spend hours a day grooming themselves

Should I let my cat clean out my earwax?

Probably not, it would be a little strange if you did. Also, we need our earwax, and your cat more than likely doesn’t know this. Earwax is essential for us humans as it protects the ear from bugs, dust, sand or dirt. Earwax is a shield to our bodies; it prevents infection from entering our bodies from the ear canal. Medical experts say you should never clean your ears of the wax, as it can do more damage than good.

Keep your Q-tip out of reach of cats.

Instead of trying to lick earwax right on out of your ears, maybe your cat has discovered you’re daily supply of Q-tips covered in wax if so, the best thing you should do is either put it in a plastic bag and tie it, or have a lid on your bin that way your cat won’t be able to sniff it out.


Cats have strange behaviours, and randomly one of them is liking earwax. Never let your cat lick your earwax out. Im sure you know this already! Remember, not all cats do this; it is unique to some, perhaps it’s the ones that dare. Also never tell your cat off for doing it, move out of the way or move them away gently, because after all, it is just a groom technique with some affection why they are doing it. Also, keep those little lollypop Q-tips away from the reach of your cat. 

Good luck and happy cat parenting!

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By Teresa Mine

Teresa has studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition. She loves sharing her knowledge and educating through her articles. She loves binge-watching animal documentaries. Teresa has some pets; she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster.