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My Cat Has Cold Ears - How Do I Know if My Cat Is Cold?

Laura García Ortiz
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. February 15, 2021
My Cat Has Cold Ears - How Do I Know if My Cat Is Cold?

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A cat's ears can change temperature quite frequently. Although their ears always have a lower temperature than their body temperature, that does not necessarily mean that our cat is cold. However, under certain medical or environmental conditions your cat may be cold, and too much time under these conditions can lead to health issues.

In this AnimalWised article we're going to explain what it means when your cat has cold ears, and how to know if they're cold. Keep reading to what to do if your cat has cold ears.

You may also be interested in: My Dog's Ears Are Cold
  1. Why does the temperature of a cat's ears vary?
  2. Causes of cold ears in cats
  3. Symptoms of cold ears and hypothermia in cats
  4. What to do if your cat has cold ears

Why does the temperature of a cat's ears vary?

The ears of cats have a lower temperature than their body.Their temperature goes accordingly with the temperature of their blood pressure, so when a reflex vasoconstriction occurs, when the blood pressure drops in hypotension, their ears decrease in temperature. In addition, the thin skin of their ears is another reason why their ears may get colder than the rest of their body, as they are barely covered with fur.

The normal temperature of feline ears is somewhat lower than body temperature, which in adult cats is between 38-39.2ºC. In addition, they change rapidly when facing climatic changes or due to the circulatory state of our feline. With that being said, a cat with cold ears may show signs of feline hypothermia. Therefore, when detecting a temperature change in the ears of our cat, what we must do is measure their body temperature by using a digital thermometer that must be in contact with the anal mucosa of our cat, since it is the most accurate zone to measure your body temperature.

If your cat's body temperature is 33-34ºC, they are suffering from clinical hypothermia which can cause serious damage to our cat's health.

As we will see below, low temperatures also intervene in lowering the immune system of our feline, making them more prone to the development of infections by bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Causes of cold ears in cats

If your cat has cold ears, it could be due to the following situations, which can cause hypothermia in the cat:

  • Low ambient temperature
  • They went outside when it is very cold, snowing or icy
  • Their skin or coat is wet
  • Cold air stream
  • Hypotension (allergic reactions, poisonings or drugs)
  • A long anesthesia
  • Hypovolemic shock due to bleeding
  • Concussion

For its part, hypovolemic shock causes cold ears due to hypothermia, which produces blood loss, either due to internal or external bleeding, trauma or rupture of internal organs that cause the heart not to have enough blood to pump to the body, giving way to the “triad of death”. Thisconsists of, in addition to hypothermia with cold ears, hypotension, metabolic acidosis, bradycardia and alterations in blood coagulation.

Cats in risk of cold ears and its health consequences

The cats most susceptible to the consequences of cold are the following:

  • Baby cats that cannot yet thermoregulate
  • Cats with metabolic diseases that alter their ability to regulate body temperature
  • Smaller cats
  • Sphynx cats due to their lack of hair
  • Underweight cats due to the lack of protective fat
  • Elderly cats
  • Cats with concomitant diseases

If you're wondering how to know if a cat is cold, we answer these and other questions in the article do cats feel cold?

Symptoms of cold ears and hypothermia in cats

The first symptoms of mild or moderate hypothermia may coincide with the signs that our cat is cold. These symptoms are:

  • Muscular stiffness
  • Tremors
  • Cramps
  • Dry skin
  • Dyspnoea
  • Slow breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Decay
  • Slow and clumsy movements
  • Drowsiness

To try to regulate their body temperature in this cold situation, our feline will begin to consume glucose, ending their fat reserves. This is when hypoglycemia may appear, which can make them enter a coma.

If hypothermia is not treated quickly, it will progress and weaken our cat, causing more serious damage with clinical signs such as the following:

  • Hypotension
  • Bradycardia (low heart rate)
  • Anorexia
  • Disorientation
  • Lost stare, fixed
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Collapse
  • Fainting
  • Death

What to do if your cat has cold ears

For all that we have been commenting on, when the temperature decreases, in addition to the drop in temperature in the feline ears, the heart rate and tension also decrease, which facilitates the appearance of cardiac, circulatory or arrhythmias. In addition, blood oxygen and metabolism decrease, and a multi-organ dysfunction syndrome may develop. In other words, if our cat's body temperature drops they will begin to suffer from health issues that, in extreme cases, can lead to their death.

This is why it's so important for us to observe any abnormalities in our cat's behaviour or appearance. Once we see that they have very cold ears, it's best to check their body temperature to make sure it is at a healthy temperature. However, if it is not, we must take action and take them to the veterinarian to be examined.

When our cat has a low temperature, hypothermia or is extremely cold, we should do the following things:

  • Keep the environment at a suitable temperature to gradually increase their body temperature, with the help of heating or electrical devices that produce heat for our cat.
  • If the cat is damp or wet, dry them as soon as possible with a towel or blanket.
  • Hold them in your arms to transmit heat.
  • Shelter them with blankets or warm clothing.
  • If they are very cold outside and the cat is going out, this exit should be closed, to keep them inside until their body is at a healthy temperature.
  • Take them to the veterinarian to be properly examined and diagnosed.
  • Administration in the veterinary centre of warm enemas or warm fluid therapy if hypothermia is severe.
  • To reverse or avoid hypoglycemia, glucose must be administered.

If we see that our cat has very cold ears, or any other clinical signs or abnormalities, it's important that we take them to the veterinarian to be properly examined and diagnosed by a professional. We must keep in mind that if they stay cold for a long time, they will suffer from health issues, some that may be irreversible.

For more information, you can also read our AnimalWised article on how to take care of your cat in winter?

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Has Cold Ears - How Do I Know if My Cat Is Cold?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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My Cat Has Cold Ears - How Do I Know if My Cat Is Cold?