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Cats and earwax: an internet theory explored

earwax

This is going to sound a little strange, but do cats love earwax? We got curious after seeing multiple tweets about cats coming after hearing aids. Our online quest for a connection brought us to some interesting corners of the internet. Rather than resorting to cat-home-testing, we wandered down a weird and windy rabbit hole of cats and earwax.

An internet theory is born

Our earliest found documentation of this “cats love earwax” theory goes back to 2005 on the website “The Cat Site.” A site user posted about her cat, Java, loving her boyfriend’s earwax with the question posed of whether or not this was a trend other cat parents experienced. Dozens of responses came in, ranging from astounding agreement to utter disgust at the idea. Some posters even joked about hiding their Q-tips to prevent their pets from getting the taste for earwax.

A theory questioned

For those who aren’t already aware, Reddit is an online community of posters who upload pictures, discussion threads, and links. Other users give up and down votes depending on their opinion, so while anyone can contribute, only the most popular posts rise to the top. The conversation about cats and earwax continues on Reddit year after year going back to this 2014 post from an ex-animal control officer:

The Reddit thread started in 2014, entitled “Throwing Q-tips at cat” under “r/Funny” has 3,650 posts! What started as a funny photo of a poster’s cat grabbing at a Q-tip with a wide-open mouth quickly turned into a challenge to alter the photo to make it seem like the cotton swab was actually a mini-hamburger (check out the thread to see some of the better examples).

September 2014 brought the Reddit question “Why do cats like the taste of human earwax so much?” “Test my belief Reddit: cats befriended humans mainly because our ear wax smells like cat milk” was posted November 2016, and finally February 2017 saw “Explain like I’m 5: Why do cats love earwax?.” The people want to know – is this theory true?!

Videos of cats loving earwax

While you may still think this is a strange theory, check out these videos of people testing the theory with their own pets:

 

 

 Now that you may believe the theory, you may be wondering why it is that cats love earwax. Essentially it boils down to cats loving smelly things, specifically smelly things coming from animals’ bodies (including humans). Earwax is made up of dead skin cells and bodily secretions like fatty acids and cholesterol. Cats are attracted to eating these animal proteins, so the smell draws them in, and the taste keeps them around. Maybe this theory isn’t so crazy after all.

By: Diana Michel

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