Skip to main content

My Cat’s Ears Are Hot: 6 Reasons for Concern

I enjoy writing about issues related to the health and wellness of animals and providing guidance to pet owners on effective home remedies.

My Cat’s Ears Are Hot: 6 Reasons for Concern

My Cat’s Ears Are Hot: 6 Reasons for Concern

You may have noticed when cuddling on the couch with your feline friend that sometimes your cat's ears are hot. As a cat owner, you may wonder whether her overly warm ears are normal and if they are any cause for concern. The answer to that question all depends on her symptoms and the circumstances.

Generally speaking, if your cat's ears are warm to the touch without any accompanying symptoms, it is nothing to be concerned about. Your cat's ears are full of small veins that contract in cold environments to retain heat or expand in hot environments to release heat. So if your cat has been relaxing in the sun for the afternoon, she may have been releasing body heat through her ears.

But occasionally, there are other reasons. You may be able to identify additional symptoms to your cat's ears being hot; maybe they are bright pink, itchy, or she has a dry nose as well. Perhaps your cat's ears feel warmer than usual after having a surgical procedure. Some of these additional symptoms could be warning signs, and it may be necessary to take your cat to the vet.

Signs of an Ear Infection

Cats are very clean animals, and they take meticulous care of their bodies. Therefore, a cat that is constantly scratching its ears may have an ear infection or another health problem.

The first thing you should do is examine your cat's ears. Do they look red? Are they warm to the touch? If so, this can indicate an infection in the ear canal. Here are some other signs that could indicate when a cat should be seen by a veterinarian:

  • Ears that are inflamed and itchy
  • Hot ears that are bright pink
  • When a cat's ears are hot after surgery
  • Head shaking or tilting often
  • Excessive scratching of the head or face
  • Dark brown discharge from the ears
  • Hot ears accompanied by sneezing

Possible Causes of Hot Ears in Cats

Ultimately, a cat's ears can be hot for various reasons. Some of these are serious and require urgent veterinary care, while others are not as serious. Here are some of the reasons why the temperature of your cat's ears may feel too high.

1. Infection

The most common cause of ear inflammation in cats is infection. Bacteria or yeast can enter the ear canal and cause irritation, leading to inflamed, hot ears, pain, and sometimes sneezing. Similarly, a dry nose and hot ears could be signs of an infection or fever.

The first step in handling this type of inflammation is to have your veterinarian treat it with antibiotics or antifungal medications. If the infection is left untreated, it can lead to permanent damage to your pet's hearing ability or even his life. This is because it spreads to other parts of his body, such as his brain or heart valves.

2. Allergies

Another common cause of swelling and redness in your pet's ears is allergies. Allergies can affect any part of the body, but they are most commonly seen on the face (including the ears) because this area has more surface area than other parts of the body, making it easier for allergens to come into contact with them than, say, on your pet's belly, where there isn't much room between fur. If your cat has allergies, she will find it difficult to cool down due to her inflamed airways.

The symptoms of an allergy include excessive sneezing, watery eyes, hot ears, and a runny nose. If you suspect that your cat has an allergy, it’s wise to visit your veterinarian. He may recommend antihistamines or other medications to help manage their symptoms until summer is over.

3. Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live inside your cat’s ear canal and feed on blood or ear wax. They can cause irritation and inflammation, leading to overheating ears, scratchings, or shaking their heads excessively.

Ear mites cause crusty material to form in their ears, which can be very painful for them. Therefore, you must seek veterinary advice if you notice that your cat's ears are hot and itchy.

4. Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections in cats can cause inflammation and discharge from the ear canal, according to PetMD. If your cat's ears are hot and red and you notice these additional symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately. This is because bacterial infections must be treated promptly, or they can become serious quickly.

5. Fungal Infections

Fungal infections occur when yeast overgrows in a moist environment like your cat's ears, causing them to become red and hot, as well as scaly or crusted over with thick patches of white material that sometimes have a filmy appearance—this is called "kitty dandruff," according to WebMD.

It is worthwhile to have your cat examined to rule out a fungal infection if you notice dandruff in addition to warmer ears, especially if there is a change in appetite, water intake, or litter box use.

Cat Getting Ears Cleaned by a Vet

Cat Getting Ears Cleaned by a Vet

6. Ear Wax Blockage

A buildup of sticky wax inside your cat's ear can cause pain, irritation, and even temporary deafness if it blocks too much sound from entering the inner ear canal (acoustic nerve).

If your cat's ears are hot and irritated, check to see if she has an ear wax blockage. Bring her into a quiet space, and then gently fold back the outer ear so you can look inside. If it's healthy, it will have a pale pink color, be free of debris and odor, and contain almost no wax. Otherwise, your vet will clean out this wax buildup using special instruments designed for this purpose.

Final Thoughts

In most cases, there's nothing to worry about if your cat's ears are hot to the touch when there are no other symptoms. However, some additional circumstances and behavioral changes might be warning signs that you should take your cat to the vet for treatment. Some indications of infection include a cat's ears being inflamed, itchy, and bright pink, accompanied by frequent head tilting or shaking or excessive head or body scratching.

Sources and Further Reading

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Louise Fiolek