Why Are My Cat’s Ears Hot? 8 Possible Reasons

Ever wondered why your cat’s ears feel hot? We reckon that most of your have at one time or another.

Although there’s often a perfectly innocent explanation, there are occasions when warm or hot ears are symptomatic of a serious issue.

So let’s now consider some of the reasons why your cat’s ears feel warm or hot to the touch.

As ever, we’d like to include the caveat that the following information is no substitute for professional veterinary advice!

1. It’s Your Cat’s Normal Body Temperature

Your cat’s ears may feel warm simply because of his normal body temperature.

A healthy feline’s body temperature usually ranges from 100.4 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38 to 39.2 degrees Celsius). That’s pretty hot.

So it follows that your cat’s ears may feel warm due to him being a rather warm-blooded, endothermic fur-ball!

2. Your Cat is Regulating His Body Temperature

The ears play a crucial role in heat regulation. W

hen a cat becomes hot, the ear’s blood vessels expand (vasodilation) enabling more blood to flow.

At the same time, the blood is brought closer to the skin’s surface.

This proximity helps with heat exchange between the blood and surrounding environment, effectively cooling the blood as it travels through the vessels.

Since the ears have many blood vessels close to the skin’s surface, it therefore follows that they often feel warm to the touch.

3. Your Cat is Feeling the Heat

Environmental factors can also cause your cat’s ears to get hot.

For instance, if the room temperature is high or your cat has been exposed to direct sunlight for a while, the ears will probably feel warm as he tries to cool down.

Remember that when your cat’s body runs hot, the blood flow to the ears is increased to regulate body temperature.

But sometimes, high humidity levels or inadequate room ventilation can make the process of vasodilation more challenging which in turn may cause the ears to feel even warmer.

A cat’s ears can also get warm or hot after resting on a hot surface such as a sun-heated pavement or warm blanket.

4. Your Cat’s Got a Fever Due to Illness or Infection

Fever can also result in your cat’s ears becoming warm or hot.

Fever is a response to an infection or illness in which the body increases blood flow to distribute heat more evenly throughout the body.

The blood vessels in the ears expand to accommodate the increased blood flow.

This brings more warm blood closer to the surface of the skin in the ears.

Bear in mind that warm or hot ears are not the only symptom to look out for here. There are other tell-tale signs that your pet is not well.

Other Symptoms to Look Out For

  • Depression
  • Hiding/Withdrawn
  • Lethargy
  • Less Grooming
  • No Appetite
  • Rapid Breathing

5. Your Cat Is Being Plagued By Ear Mites

These pesky parasites can potentially cause the ears to feel warm too.

Ear mites live in the ear canals, feeding on earwax and debris, while also causing intense irritation to your poor cat due to itching and inflammation in the ear canal.

And it’s this inflammation that also causes the blood vessels in the ears to expand, in order to increase blood flow to the affected area.

The rush of blood will make your cat’s ears feel warm to the touch.

Inflammation may be further exacerbated by excessive scratching.

On top of this, there’s the chance of secondary infection, which has the potential to cause even more inflammation, as well as redness and extra warmth in the ears.

Other Symptoms to Look Out For

  • Dark/Crumbly Discharge
  • Excessive Scratching
  • Fur Loss Around Ear
  • Head Shaking
  • Redness/Inflammation
  • Swelling of Ear Flap
  • Unpleasant Odor

6. Your Cat is Suffering From an Ear Infection

Ear infections are sometimes behind warm or hot ears in cats.

Whether the infection is caused by yeast, bacteria or a foreign body, your cat’s immune system will try to fight it by increasing blood flow to the affected area.

The resulting inflammation will almost certainly make the ear feel warmer.

Other Symptoms to Look Out For

  • Discharge
  • Excessive Scratching
  • Head Shaking
  • Redness/Inflammation
  • Unpleasant Odor

7. Your Cat Has an Allergy

Feline allergies may cause the ears to become inflamed and warm/hot as a response to the allergen.

As we’ve seen, inflammation causes blood vessels in the ears to expand, which then increases blood flow, which then results in usually warm or hot ears.

Other Symptoms to Look Out For

  • Ear Infections or Inflammation
  • Excessive Scratching
  • Hair Loss or Bald Patches
  • Head Shaking
  • Hot Spots (localized areas of inflammation and infection)
  • Localized Areas of Inflammation
  • Redness/Inflamed Skin
  • Runny/Stuffy Nose
  • Scabs or Crusts on the Skin
  • Sneezing, Coughing or Weezing
  • Swelling of Cat, Lips or Eyes
  • Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
  • Watery Eyes/Discharge

8. You Cat is Suffering from Anxiety or Stress

While anxiety or stress in and of themselves won’t cause your cat’s ears to get hot, they can rigger physiological responses.

These responses may then lead to elevated body temperatures.

Sometimes, stress will trigger the release of hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol.

These increase heart rate, blood pressure and speed up the metabolism, potentially leading to a rise in body temperature.

In turn, this may result in your cat’s ears getting warm as he tries to regulate his body temperature through vasodilation (see Point 2).

Other Symptoms to Look Out For

  • Aggression or Irritability
  • Appetite Changes
  • Hiding Behavior
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Elimination Outside Litter Box
  • Excessive Grooming or Licking
  • Excessive Sleeping
  • Increased Vocalization
  • Over-Sensitivity to Touch or Handling
  • Pacing or Restlessness
  • Panting or Rapid Breathing
  • Pupil Dilation
  • Sudden Changes in Behavior
  • Trembling or Shaking
  • Urine Marking or Spraying

Final Thoughts

In most cases, your cat’s warm ears are absolutely nothing to worry about.

The warmth is usually temporary and not a cause for concern.

Nevertheless, should you notice that they’re consistently very hot or if your cat shows other signs of discomfort or illness, consult your usual vet or consult an online veterinarian.

That way, you’ll be able to rule out underlying health problems.

Also remember to provide your cat with a comfortable living environment, including access to cool, shady areas and fresh water to help with the regulation of body temperature.

Why Cat’s Ears Can Feel Warm or Hot – Video

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