A healthy cat's ears only need a small amount of grooming maintenance. To determine if your cat needs to have his ears cleaned, examine them gently. They should look clean inside, but if you see brown waxy residue, they need to be groomed.
Cats who shake their heads a lot and who always seem to be scratching their ears may have ear mites. If the ears smell bad, have chunks or dark wax, or look like they are filled with coffee grounds, your cat could have an ear infection or mites. In he displays any of these symptoms, take him to the vet. She will clean your cat's ears and show you how to do it properly at home and will give you prescription ear drops to kill the mites.
Keeping your cat's ears clean is a simple procedure that will prevent the ear mites from returning. About once a week (more often if your cat has long hair or ear curls), swab out the ears with a cotton call dipped in baby oil or mineral oil. Use one cotton ball per ear, and repeat if necessary until the ear looks clean. If your cat hates having his ears groomed, you may want to have a friend hold him still or place him securely in your lap so that he cannot run away.
Never stick a cotton swab designed for cleaning out human ears in your cat's ear canal, you could cause serious damage to the eardrum. Using a long swab will push the dirt and wax farther down into the ears and makes cleaning harder. Always handle your cat's ears gently because they are very sensitive.