Why Are My Cat’s Ears So Warm? The Reasons Behind Your Kitty’s Cozy Ears

Normal Cat Ear Temperature

The normal temperature range for a cat’s ears is 100-103°F (37.8-39.4°C) [1]. This temperature range may fluctuate slightly based on factors like age, excitement level, and environmental conditions.

A cat’s ears play an important role in regulating body temperature. Cats release excess body heat through their ear canal and the blood vessels in their ears. As blood circulates close to the ear surface, the heat gets released into the air. This allows cats to cool down when their body temperature rises. The ears also help cats retain body heat in cold environments by constricting blood vessels when needed.

Causes of Warm Ears

There are several common reasons why a cat’s ears may feel warmer than usual without being cause for concern:

Sunbathing – Cats enjoy basking in the sun, which can warm up their ears. The ears have very little fur which allows heat to be absorbed quickly (https://www.rover.com/blog/why-are-my-cats-ears-hot/).

Excitement – When a cat is excited, anxious, or aroused, blood flow increases which warms the ears. The ears also become erect to capture sounds and signals (https://pethelpful.com/cats/My-Cats-Ears-Are-Hot-6-Reasons-for-Concern).

Exercise – Physical activity raises a cat’s body temperature, which can transfer to the ears. Panting to cool down leads to vasodilation and increased blood flow that heats the ears.

Environmental Heat – Ambient heat from the environment can directly warm a cat’s ears since they have little fur for insulation.

Sleeping Position – Cats sometimes sleep with their ears folded which can trap heat inside the ear and make it feel warmer.

Monitoring Ear Temperature

To check if your cat’s ears are unusually warm, gently feel the ears with the back of your hand or fingers. A healthy cat’s ears should feel only slightly warmer than the rest of their body temperature (100-102°F). If the ears feel significantly warmer, take your cat’s temperature to confirm a fever.

Contact your veterinarian right away if your cat has a temperature over 103°F. A fever usually indicates an underlying illness or infection. Along with warm ears, watch for other signs of illness like lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or nasal discharge. Catching a fever early allows quicker treatment and prevention of suffering.

It’s also important to monitor ear temperature if your cat was outside on a hot, sunny day. Cats can get sunburned ears, which will feel hot and tender. Apply aloe vera gel and keep your cat indoors until the burn heals.


A cat’s normal body temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If a cat’s body temperature rises above this normal range, it indicates a fever. Fever is one of the most common causes of warm ears in cats. As part of a cat’s cooling system, blood vessels in the ears vasodilate (dilate) to release heat when body temperature rises. This makes the ears feel warm or hot to the touch.

Along with warm ears, other symptoms of fever in cats may include lethargy, loss of appetite, dehydration, and congestion. Fever usually indicates an underlying infection or inflammation. Some common causes include upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, pancreatitis, cancer, and reactions to medications or vaccines.

It’s important to identify and treat the source of a fever. Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial infections. Supportive care like fluids, rest, and nutrition can help recovery. If a fever persists or is very high (above 104 F), immediate veterinary care is recommended. Bringing down a high fever prevents seizures, brain damage, or organ failure. Vets may administer fever-reducing medication or cooling techniques.

According to this veterinary source, warm ears are one of the first visible signs of fever in many cats. Monitoring a cat’s ear temperature along with other symptoms can help identify early fevers and prompt treatment. But warm ears alone may not indicate a dangerous fever, so it’s important to watch for any other accompanying symptoms of illness in the cat.


Cats can get sunburned if they spend too much time in direct sunlight, just like humans. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation damages the cells in the skin, causing redness, pain, and warmth. A cat’s ears, nose, and other thinly haired areas are especially vulnerable.

If your cat’s ears feel warm to the touch, it could be a sign of sunburn. The damaged skin becomes inflamed and irritated, leading to increased blood flow and warmth. You may also notice redness, scabbing, or crusting on the ears. Excessive scratching or pawing at the ears is another sign of sunburn discomfort.

To prevent sunburn, limit your cat’s time in direct sunlight during peak hours. Provide shady spots they can relax in outside. PetMD recommends cat-safe sunscreen on vulnerable areas like the ears and nose 30 minutes before sun exposure. Keeping your cat hydrated is also important.

To treat sunburn, gently cleanaffected areas and apply soothing aloe vera gel. Protect sunburnt skin from further sun exposure until healed. See your veterinarian if the skin blisters or oozes or your cat seems in distress. With prompt care, cat sunburn typically heals within a few days.

Ear Infections

Cats can get ear infections caused by bacteria or yeast. Bacterial ear infections are often caused by Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, or Proteus bacteria. Yeast infections are commonly caused by an overgrowth of Malassezia yeast. Symptoms of an ear infection include head shaking, scratching or pawing at the ears, discharge, and foul odor (1). The inner ear becomes inflamed and infected.

Treatment involves cleaning the ears to remove discharge and debris. Antibiotic or antifungal ear drops may be prescribed, such as gentamicin, miconazole, or ketoconazole (2). Oral antibiotics or antifungals may also be used for severe infections. Analgesics help with pain and discomfort. The ear may need to be flushed under sedation to fully remove infection. With treatment, most ear infections can be cured within 7-10 days.

To help prevent ear infections, gently clean cat ears weekly with a vet-approved cleanser to remove wax and debris. Check ears regularly for signs of irritation or infection. Keep ears dry after bathing. Consult a vet if infections recur.


(1) https://www.metlifepetinsurance.com/blog/pet-health/cat-ears-and-their-overall-health/

(2) https://www.rover.com/blog/why-are-my-cats-ears-hot/

Ear Mites

Ear mites are a common parasite that can cause a cat’s ears to feel abnormally warm. These microscopic creatures, known scientifically as Otodectes cynotis, feed on ear wax and oils inside the ear canal. An infestation of ear mites can make cats extremely uncomfortable. As the mites feed and move around, they cause irritation and itchiness. This leads to a cat persistently shaking their head and scratching at their ears in an attempt to relieve the irritation.

Symptoms of an ear mite infestation include:

  • Warm ears
  • Itchy ears and scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Brown or black ear discharge resembling coffee grounds
  • Crusty buildup in the ears

Ear mites are highly contagious between cats and can spread rapidly. The mites can travel from cat to cat through close contact. They can also be picked up from contaminated surfaces like bedding. Treatment involves cleaning the ears thoroughly to remove debris and applying medication drops to kill the mites. Prescription products from the veterinarian are most effective, such as Revolution, Acarexx, or Ivermectin. All cats in a household should be treated together to prevent reinfection [1].

If a cat’s ears feel persistently warm and they seem bothered by their ears, it’s important to have a veterinarian examine them. Left untreated, an ear mite infestation can lead to secondary bacterial or fungal infections developing as the normal environment inside the ear becomes disrupted.

[1] https://www.rover.com/blog/why-are-my-cats-ears-hot/


Allergies are a common cause of warm ears in cats. When a cat is exposed to an allergen such as pollen, mold, dust mites, or certain foods, it can trigger an allergic response. This leads to inflammation and irritation in the body, including the ears.

During an allergic reaction, the body releases histamine, which causes blood vessels to expand and leads to fluid leakage, redness, and warmth in the ears (Source). The inflammation and irritation from the allergic response is what causes a cat’s ears to feel abnormally warm.

Treatment for allergies typically involves avoiding exposure to the allergen if possible. Your vet may prescribe antihistamines or steroids to reduce inflammation and itchiness. They may also recommend switching to a hypoallergenic diet. Keeping ears clean and free of debris can help prevent secondary infections. In severe cases, allergy testing and immunotherapy shots may be an option.

If your cat’s ears feel warm due to allergies, bringing them to the vet can help identify the allergen and determine the best treatment approach for relief and management of symptoms.


There are several types of tumors that can develop in or around a cat’s ears and cause them to feel abnormally warm. Two of the most common are squamous cell carcinomas and ear canal tumors.

Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are malignant skin tumors that most often develop on areas of the body exposed to UV sunlight. The white hairless skin of a cat’s ears means they are prone to sun damage over time. SCCs often first appear as scabs or sores on the ear tips or ear flaps that won’t heal. They may eventually spread and take over the entire ear. Other symptoms include ear swelling, redness, irritation, discharge, and crusty/ulcerated lesions. The ears will often feel warm to the touch as the cancer progresses.

Tumors developing inside the ear canal may cause similar symptoms like irritation, swelling, and warmth. These growths can be benign or cancerous. The exact cause is usually unknown, but chronic ear inflammation is thought to be a risk factor. Diagnosing ear tumors generally requires examination by a vet, including an ear exam, biopsy, and imaging tests.

Treatment depends on the type and severity of the tumor. Surgical removal, radiation therapy, chemotherapy drugs, and medications may be options. Even with treatment, the prognosis is guarded for malignant cancers. Preventing sunburn of the ears can help reduce the risk of squamous cell carcinomas developing later in life.

When to See a Vet

There are certain warning signs that indicate your cat’s warm ears may require veterinary attention. Some reasons to take your cat into the vet immediately include:

– Fever – If your cat has a temperature over 103 F, seek veterinary care right away as this could indicate a serious issue like an infection.

– Lethargy/lack of appetite – A sick cat may have little interest in food or play. Rapid lethargy warrants a vet visit.

– Discharge – Any abnormal discharge from the ears like blood, pus, or excess wax should be evaluated by a vet promptly.

– Head shaking/scratching – Persistent head shaking or ear scratching can signify discomfort and infection.

– Loss of balance – If your cat seems off-balance or disoriented, this requires immediate vet attention as it may indicate an inner ear infection.

– Just one ear affected – If only one ear is warm, have your vet examine it to rule out potential tumors or polyps.

In general, any sudden ear warmth accompanied by other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or personality changes necessitates a prompt veterinary visit. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when evaluating causes of warm ears in cats. Contact your vet right away if your cat’s ear temperature concerns you.

Scroll to Top