If you have ever snuggled with your cat in bed or had your cat lie on your lap while you watch TV, you’ll notice that your cat starts to feel pretty warm after a short while.
This makes them great furry blankets on a cold day.
Cats run hotter than us humans with an average resting body temperature of 100.4 to 102.5 Fahrenheit. We humans have a temperature of 97-99 Fahrenheit.
It might not seem like much with a few degrees difference but it is definitely noticeable.
Are My Cat’s Ears Supposed To Be Warm?
It depends. Your cat’s ears are rather special in terms of how it is structured. Not only does it make your cat’s shadow look like ‘batman’, but it can also help to regulate your cat’s body temperature.
The outer part of your cat’s ear or the ear flap is covered with less fur as compared to the rest of the cat’s body. It is also very thin.
With less fur covering the ear, it can regulate the cat’s temperature better, depending on the weather.
Cats can’t perspire like humans when feeling warm. They tend to lower their body temperature by sweating through the paws, panting and through their ears. Some cat owners feel that by giving their cats a lion cut, it can help them keep cool when the weather is too hot.
When the temperature is warm at home, the cat’s body will increase its blood flow in order to lose excess heat through the ears. There are many blood vessels located in the cat’s ear which allow the heat in the blood to disperse in the surrounding air which in turn lowers the cat’s temperature.
Warm ears don’t always indicate an underlying health issue unless there are other symptoms as explained further in this article. But if your kitty is feeling too warm, make sure to shift it to a cool location.
When the temperature is colder, your cat will slow down its blood flow to the ears which means less heat is lost to the atmosphere thus conserving body temperature.
My Cat Has Hot Ears
As cat owners, we should be adequately familiar with our cat’s body when something is not right. This is why I strongly encourage cats owners to spend a good 30 minutes with their cats daily. It is a good way to bond and spend quality time with your cat and to check your cat for any injuries.
You should be able to tell if your cat’s ear temperature feels abnormally hot.
Your Cat Is Having A Fever
Cats get sick as humans do and it is common for them to catch a fever. If your cat’s temperature is more than 102.5F, there’s a high chance that your cat has a fever. A temperature of 106F is dangerous for cats as it can cause damage to their organs.
The best way to check your cat’s temperature is by using a rectal thermometer.
A fever in a cat or pyrexia is usually due to the cat’s immune system trying to fight off an infection. This can be due to:
- Allergic reaction
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Fungal infection
Your cat’s ears will also feel a lot warmer when it is having a fever along with other symptoms like:
- Decreased appetite
- Sleeping more than usual
- Excessive grooming
- Hiding most of the time
If you notice any of such symptoms together with your cat’s hot ears, please bring your cat to the vet for treatment. Prolonged fever can be very damaging for both pets and humans.
Why Are My Cat’s Ears Hot And Red?
If your cat’s ears feel warmer than usual, it isn’t always due to a fever. If you notice that the ears are red as well, then it could be due to an infection in the ear.
An ear infection can cause your cat’s ears to feel hot and red from excessive scratching. The infection could be coming from deeper inside the cat’s ear canal which is not visible to the naked eye. Your cat will be busy scratching that infected ear in frustration trying to get to the itch.
An ear infection can usually be caused by a yeast build-up in the ear or even due to excessive ear wax. Your cat’s ear will have a pungent smell, pus or blood or a dark-colored discharge.
For owners with cats that are FELV or FIV, they may be more prone to ear infections due to a compromised immune system. So make sure to clean their ears regularly.
Another reason why your cat’s ears might be hot and red is due to an ear mite infection. This pesky parasite can make your cat’s life miserable.
Most cat owners would have encountered this problem before even for indoor cats. If your cat is part outdoors, it is more prone to an ear mite infection.
The bad thing is that ear mites are contagious and can be passed between cats. If you have more than one cat at home and one has an ear mite issue, make sure to isolate your cat.
Ear mites can be spotted by carefully examining your cat’s ear. Couple of symptoms to look out for:
- Incessant scratching of the infected ear
- Head shaking from side to side
- Red, brown or dark-colored discharge
- Bad smell from the ear
Ear Infection Treatment For Cats
I would strongly advise you to bring your cat to the veterinary clinic for a check-up if you suspect it’s having an ear problem.
The vet will need to examine your cat’s ear to ascertain the cause of the infection. Usually, ear infections can be treated easily and take about 1-2 weeks to clear up. You will need to do some ear cleaning at home and apply some antibiotic ear drops.
Why Are My Cat’s Ears Cold?
On the flip side, there will be instances when your find that your cat’s ears feel cold and it’s perfectly normal. As mentioned earlier, when the weather is cold, your cat might slow down its blood flow to maintain body heat. Furthermore, the ears are the thinnest part of a cat’s body hence they tend to feel colder.
There are a couple of other reasons that can explain the cold feeling of your cat’s ears.
Your Cat Is Resting
When your cat is napping or in deep sleep, it is natural for the body to lower its core temperature and heartbeat to save energy for when it is awake. This will cause your cat’s ears to feel colder than normal as compared to when it’s awake.
Your cat can start to suffer from hypothermia when its body temperature drops below 99F. Hypothermia is a condition when your cat is unable to produce enough heat to effectively regulate its core temperature.
This can happen if your cat is sitting near an open window or door and it’s cold outside. Some cats like the Maine Coon and Siberian like to wander in the snow. Hence cat owners have to make sure they don’t stay outside too long. If the ears of your cat feel pretty cold, warm them up with a blanket or a cat sweater.
The last thing you want happening to your cat is getting frostbites for being out in the cold for too long.
There are diseases and viral infections that can also lower your cat’s temperature. This can be due to your cat going into shock due to toxic poisoning. Your cat will also have other symptoms like vomiting, seizures and lack of appetite.
A cat’s body is very efficient at regulating its own core temperature without our intervention. However, there are times when our cats need medical intervention to resolve an underlying health issue that can affect their body heat regulation or ears.
Don’t wait to take your cat to the vet or it might get more serious.