Whenever I pet my cat on his head, the warmth of his ears is more often than not, noticeable.
As an attentive cat owner, it’s natural to question if this is a sign of a deeper issue.
Are they always this warm? Is this a cause for concern?
Your cat’s ears may feel warm due to environmental factors, physical activity or its normal body’s natural thermoregulation. However, excessively hot ears can also signal underlying health issues, like fever, infection or inflammation.
In this article, we will delve into the mystery of your cat’s warm ears, providing valuable insights to make sure your cat’s health is always in safe hands
Are Your Cat’s Ears Supposed To Be Warm?
The answer might be more complex than you think, as the temperature of a cat’s ears can signify various things.
Let’s delve into some reasons that may explain this phenomenon.
Regular Body Temperature Fluctuations
This would be the most common reason why your cat’s ears are warm.
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 also helps to regulate your cat’s body temperature.
The outer part of your cat’s ear or ear flap is covered with less fur as compared to the rest of the cat’s body.
The skin of this area is also very thin and full of blood vessels.
This makes the ears a good body part for regulating body temperature.
Cats can’t perspire like humans when feeling warm.
They tend to lower their body temperature by sweating through their 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 it starts to get too hot, 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.
This process can make your cat’s ears feel warmer as compared to the rest of its body.
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.
Your Cat Is A ‘Hottie’
Our cats are bona fide supermodels that invented the catwalk. This automatically earns them the title of being a ‘hottie’.
Besides their sleek coats and lean bodies, your cat is also a ‘hottie’ due to having a higher resting body temperature.
Cats run hotter than us humans with an average resting body temperature of 100.4 to 102.5 Fahrenheit.
Humans have a temperature of 97-99 Fahrenheit.
This largely explains why cats like to seek out warmer places as they do need more heat to stay warm.
My cat loves sleeping on my bed after I’ve woken up as its still warm and toasty.
Our cats have a higher body temperature due to having a higher metabolic rate.
They are able to digest their food within 24 hours and burn more energy at rest. This allows them to effectively hunt for prey which requires sudden bursts of energy.
Cats Like The Sun
James Herriot, a veterinarian surgeon and author once said ”Cats are connoisseurs of comfort”.
And there’s nothing quite as comfortingfor a cat to be stretching and basking under some glorious sun says just to get warmed up.
A patch of sunlight offers a warm place for your cat to rest without dipping into its energy reserves to stay warm.
It’s not uncommon to see cats sprawled out in sunny spots around the house, soaking up the rays and maintaining their optimal body temperature.
If your cat’s ears are feeling a little warm, it could be that your cat has been sun tanning in its favorite spot recently.
Why Are My Cat’s Ears Hot?
Unusually warm cat ears can be a cause for concern, especially if they are associated with other behavioral changes and symptoms.
Two potential reasons for this sudden warmth include a fever or an allergic reaction.
When Fever Strikes
A fever happens when your cat is having an infection or inflammation. The increased activity in your cat’s immune system can cause its body temperature to rise.
Along with having hot ears, other symptoms can also include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Dry and hot nose
It can be hard to tell what is causing the fever in your cat without a proper medical diagnosis.
A fever in your cat can be caused by:
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Undetected physical injury
- Autoimmune disease (FeLV, FIV)
Having An Allergic Reaction
Just like humans, cats too can also suffer from allergic reactions!
When your cat experiences an allergic reaction, its body releases histamines which causes inflammation.
This can result in increased blood flow to certain areas, such as the ears, causing them to feel warmer than usual.
There are many allergens that can trigger your cat’s allergic reaction.
The most common ones are:
- Food allergy
- Dust mites
- Mold fleas
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Running eyes and nose
- Inflamed and itchy skin
- Excessive grooming
If your cat has allergic asthma, common allergens can trigger its asthma and cause it to breath with its mouth open. Make sure to keep a close eye on your cat in case it starts to have breathing difficulties.
Why Are My Cat’s Ears Hot And Red?
If you noticed that your cat’s ears are not only hot but also red, that is a telltale sign of something happening to your cat’s ears.
The redness is due to the scratching and inflammation of the ear which is usually caused by an infection.
Ear Mite Infection
This pesky parasite can make your cat’s life miserable. Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal of cats.
Most cat owners would have encountered this problem before even for indoor cats.
If your cat is allowed to roam outdoors, the risk of an ear mite infection will be much higher.
I strongly urge you to not let your cat outdoors at all.
The risk of something bad happening or your cat running away from home is too high.
If you have more than one cat at home and one has an ear mite issue, make sure to isolate your cat.
Ear mites are contagious and can be passed between cats.
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 infections are another common reason for your cat’s ears turning hot and red.
These infections can be extremely uncomfortable for your cat and often lead to head shaking, excessive ear scratching and ear discharge
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 doesn’t have to be caused by a parasitic infection.
The most common types of ear infections in cats are either bacterial or fungal.
For owners with cats that are FELV or FIV, they may be more prone to ear infections due to a compromised immune system.
My cat is FeLV and has a chronic yeast infection in both ears.
There will be months when his ears are totally fine and then WHAM!
Yeast infection out of nowhere.
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.
How To Monitor My Cat’s Temperature?
If you notice that your cat’s ears are feeling a lot hotter than usual, there are a few ways that you can check your cat’s temperature.
The best way is to use a digital thermometer and insert it into your cat’s ear or anus.
Please do not use a glass thermometer that is filled with mercury as that can be harmful to your cat if its breaks while inside your cat.
You will need to leave the thermometer in your cat until it beeps to get an accurate reading.
Should I Be Worried If My Cat’s Ears Are Hot?
If you have taken your cat’s temperature and it is above 102.5F, your cat is having a fever and needs to be seen by the vet.
Prolonged or very high fever can lead to complications and requires medical intervention ASAP.
Even if your cat isn’t showing signs of a fever but its ears are accompanied by redness, swelling, discharge or a foul odor, these are clear indicators that a vet visit is necessary.
An ear infection will require antibiotics or anti-parasitic medication to resolve the problem.
Is It Bad If My Cat’s Ears Are 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 frostbite 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.
Why Are My Cat’s Ears And Paws Hot?
Your cat’s ears and paws may feel hot due to normal body temperature fluctuations. But if the warmth is accompanied by other signs such as redness, discomfort or smelly discharge, a visit to the vet is recommended.
Why Is One of My Cat’s Ears Hot and the Other Cold?
A difference in temperature between your cat’s ears could be due to uneven exposure to heat or cold. If one ear feels much hotter than the other and shows unusual symptoms, it could indicate a localized issue like an infection or inflammation in the warmer ear.