Why Do My Cat's Ears Feel Hot?

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. August 20, 2018
Why Do My Cat's Ears Feel Hot?

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Our understand of a cat's well-being is sometimes too closely associated with that of a human's well-being. If we do this, we underestimate the differences people and felines have in terms of both physiology and psychology. This means we may look at certain symptoms in our cats and then make assumptions based on the closest correspondence to a health issue we may have.

If we ask ourselves why do my cat's ears feel hot?, we might grow concerned. While a vet will be the only one who is able to give an accurate diagnosis, AnimalWised provides the possible reason your cat's ears are warmer than usual. We'll also show you the treatment options available in each scenario.

You may also be interested in: My Dog's Ears Are Cold

What causes a cat's ears to be hot?

If you notice your cat's ears feel hot to the touch, you do not always have to be alarmed. In fact, the first possible cause might be a potentially obvious one. If your cat has been spending their nap time splayed out in the sun or lying next to the fireplace, it is understandable that this part of their body might feel warmer than usual. If we want to understand if a cat having warm ears is a worrying condition, then we need to also look at other symptoms and possible behavioral changes.

Cats can be reserved when it comes to problematic situations, often going into hiding when they feel unwell. Knowing both the general habits of felines as well as the specific behavior of our own cat will help us to determine the cause. They may include:

  • Exposure to a heat source: as we stated above, your cat may simply have been laying out next to a heat source such as the sun or a radiator. The heat is passed on by convection from many objects (not the sun), but even a cat's paws can warm their ears. If they sleep in a call and wrap their paws over their ears, their own body heat can increase the temperature. If this is the case, you will see that the ears will soon cool once away from the heat source.
  • Fever: one of the most common explanations of why a cat has hot ears is that they are suffering a fever. This may be true up to a point as the cat's immune response will elevate their temperature and their ears may be used to regulate it. However, a fever diagnosis will only be released when an accurate temperature reading is taken.
  • Infection: when a cat's body part is warmer than normal, it could mean an infection has been contracted. If you notice that the cat's ears are hot, red and they are behaving strangely, you will need to take them to the vet.
  • Allergy: if a cat's ears are hot and red, however, it may also be the result of an allergic reaction. The allergens can be various, such as food, fleas bites, textiles, etc. A vet will need to carry out various tests to ascertain the particular allergens affecting a cat.
  • Diseases: some specific ear diseases such as otitis may be the cause of the change in temperature.

Does a cat with hot ears mean fever?

As we have already stated, one of the main functions of a cat's ears is to regulate their body temperature. However, there are more considerations to make if we suspect our cat has a fever. It is necessary to pay attention to other symptoms of fever in cats. The cat's paw pads are one of the few places on the feline body from which they can sweat. If you feel sweat (not saliva from a cat licking their paws), then a fever may indeed be present.

Another symptom which may suggest the presence of fever is if the cat's nose is both warm and dry. However, if we want to know undoubtedly that the cat has a fever, we need the vet to take their temperature. The normal body temperature of a cat lies somewhere between 99.5 ºF (37.5 ºC) and 102.5 ºF (39.1 ºC). If the temperature is a little higher there may be an issue with the reading, but as soon as it moves past 103.6 ºF (39.8 ºC) then fever is present. Our article provides further information on causes, symptoms and treatment of fever in cats.

Why Do My Cat's Ears Feel Hot? - Does a cat with hot ears mean fever?

Cat with hot ears: when to worry

In general, if a cat has hot ears, but displays no other symptoms and they soon return to normal, there is little cause for concern. Part of the reason for this is that a cat's ears have many blood vessels. Their warm blood might circulate there, especially if they are trying to heat up their body, making them seem abnormally hot when everything is fine. As we can see by the readings above, a cat's normal body temperature is higher than our own, so they may only feel comparatively warm.

If the cat does display other symptoms, beside having warm ears, we need to be careful. They might be overtired (sometimes hard to tell with cats), appear apathetic, be aggressive, does not react well to stimuli or generally changes their usual demeanor, there is a high probability something is wrong. To resolve any doubts and to initiate any treatment which may be necessary. It should be noted that Siamese and Albino cats may be more sensitive when it comes to their ears, so we should be particularly careful with these breeds.

My cat's ears are hot a red

If your cat's ears are not only warm to the touch, but redder than usual, it is likely due to one of two main causes (although there are potentially others):

  • Ear infection: as we have said before, infections can cause otitis, otherwise known as inflammation of the epithelium (the ear tissue). An infection can come from dirt or small cuts and abrasions. The redness and heat derive from the body trying to fight back against it.
  • Ear infestation: one of the most common problems cats experience with their ears is due to infestation from insects and mites. Fleas and mites feed off a cat's skin and the ears are particularly sensitive. As they don't have as much fur on them as other parts of their body, you may notice problems with their ears before you see the infestation elsewhere.

One of the most common mites which appear in a cat's ears are Otodectes cynotis. These are mites the size of a grain of salt and they act by laying eggs in the cat's ear canal. These eggs hatch and after 21 days are ready to reproduce and proliferate the infestation. They can cause great irritation to the cat, leading to the cat wanting to scratch their ear repeatedly and making it further inflamed.

Again, if you suspect a problem, taking the cat to the vet is necessary. There are many other types of parasites which can infest a cat and lead to ear problems. These articles on mites on cats and common ear problems in cats will provide you with some helpful information.

Why Do My Cat's Ears Feel Hot? - My cat's ears are hot a red

Why do my cat's ears feel cold?

Now that we have seen why a cat's ears may seem hot, we may wonder if there are problems when we feel our cat's ears are cold. In these instances we need to make similar considerations. Firstly, we should look at environmental factors. If you have an outdoor cat and they go outside, then they may simply have ears which feel cool due to the weather. Staying in sunlight might make their ears feel warm just sitting in a draft may cool them down.

However, an internal cause of a cat having cold ears may have more concerning origins. If a cat's ears are cool to the touch, especially when they should otherwise be warm, it is possibly due to poor blood circulation. This means not enough blood is getting to their extremities which may result in cold ears. If this is the case, it could be a sign of a problem with their cardiovascular system.

Another problem might be due to poisoning, resulting in coldness in their ears. If this is the case, you will need to look at other symptoms, most of which will be fairly obvious. We also have articles if you want to know the other symptoms of poisoning in cats. If this is the case, taking them to be checked will be a veterinary emergency.

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 Why Do My Cat's Ears Feel Hot?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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