Discover What Hot Cat Ears Are and Tips to Fix It

Written by Micky Moran
Published: November 15, 2023
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Cats are one of the most beloved pets in the world, but they need regular veterinary care and upkeep to be healthy. Hot cat ears are one of the many issues your pet could face in their lifetime. While it affects outdoor cats more than their indoor counterparts, understanding when it means that something is wrong is crucial for your pet’s health.

Determining If Hot Ears Are a Problem

woman's hand stroking a ginger cat on Isolated white background

When a cat’s ears are hot, it could be a sign of infection or their natural body temperature regulation.

©Seregraff/Shutterstock.com

When you pet your cat to find that their ears are hot, it doesn’t immediately mean that you need to act and get them urgent veterinary care. Nothing may be wrong if it doesn’t have any other symptoms. The ears of a cat contain a wide net of small veins, which contract to keep them warm in cold weather. To release heat, the veins expand to cool off ears in hot weather.
If you feel concerned, consider if you must look for other symptoms first. Along with their hot ears, a sick cat might have a dry nose, a lower appetite, or a fever. Sometimes, their ears also feel hot after having surgery as they heal. Once you notice other symptoms with the warmth, you must determine the cause.

Why Do Cats Get Hot Ears?

Sick red cat. Eye and ear disease

Hot ears can be painful for cats, especially if the warmth results from infection.

©Pogodina Natalia/Shutterstock.com

Natural Body Temperature Regulation

The normal temperature of your cat is higher than you think. Most humans take their temperature and look for a reading of 98.6°F, but that is far too low for a cat. Cats usually range from 101°F to 102.5°F. When just a few degrees make a difference, get an accurate reading. They might feel warm initially, but a cat with no other behavior changes is usually fine.

Outside Weather

Weather plays a significant role in a cat’s ears. Hot cat ears can result from rising temperatures, forcing them to release heat to regulate their body. During cold weather, their ears should feel colder when their body naturally preserves heat. This natural relief is also helpful to cats who love to sunbathe, allowing them to stretch out in the warmth without feeling hot.

Inflammation

If the first two causes aren’t the case, that’s when the reason for hot cat ears becomes a little more serious. The main reason that cats experience hot ears is because of inflammation. Inflammation happens for a variety of reasons, including irritation from bacteria or yeast. Inflammation doesn’t necessarily mean that the cat has an infection, but it is highly probable.

Once you have a moment to examine your cat’s ears, check for redness and warmth. If these qualities extend down their ear canal, bring them to a vet to get the necessary support.

Bacterial Infections

When your cat has a bacterial infection, inflammation and redness cause hot cat ears. Some cats experience discharge from their ears, paired with the already uncomfortable heat. If your cat has any discharge, make sure to bring them to a vet for the proper antibiotics. Allowing an infection to continue causes severe damage to the immune system, which puts animals at risk for lifelong illness or abrupt fatality.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections, just like bacterial infections, are dangerous. They are more common in moist, dark areas, making a cat’s ears the perfect host. Fungal infections cause hot cat ears, a crusted appearance, and redness. Some people describe the texture as scaly and patchy, causing dandruff to fall from the cat’s ears. The natural yeast in a cat’s ears makes it particularly likely to contract such an infection.

Allergic Reaction

Allergies are another big reason for the redness and swelling. Allergies often need to be treated with medication from a veterinarian. It causes swelling and redness in their ears, but the redness can sometimes extend to their face if the inflammation gets bad enough. If this allergic reaction is in response to their environment generally, you may already have medication. However, if they have an allergic reaction that you don’t recognize, report it to their doctor.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are incredibly painful, biting at ears. A doctor should handle this issue.

Ear Wax Buildup

The buildup of wax causes cat ears to become hot as well. Cats need their ears regularly cleaned by groomers or veterinarians to avoid this buildup. You can also clean their ears at home with the proper supplies.

How Do You Fix Hot Cat Ears?

Examination of cat ear in veterinary clinic using an otoscope. Problems and ear pain in animals

If you cannot relieve your cat’s ears with natural methods at home, bring them to a medical facility as soon as possible.

©megaflopp/Shutterstock.com

While a cold compress and regulating their nearby temperature could help with the heat in their ears, the best way to support your cat and relieve hot ears is with medical attention. If you treat your cat with any medicine, consult a vet to check for other symptoms. Cleaning the ears regularly is ideal preventative care, but any hot ears indicate that you are past the point of prevention.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © oussama el biad/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Micky Moran is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering mammals, travel, marine life, and geography. He has been writing and researching animals and nature for over 5 years. A resident of Arizona, he enjoys spending time with family, going on adventures across the United States with his wife and kids by his side.

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