Hot Ears in Cats

By Veronica Davis

If your cat's ears feel hot to the touch, this may signal a health condition that warrants a veterinarian's examination. Several different conditions can present with hot ears in some cats, and some of these conditions are more serious than others. Knowing the different potential causes and the additional symptoms to observe for can enable helpful communication with your veterinarian so that he can narrow down the possibilities and make a diagnosis.


If your cat's ears are noticeably hotter to the touch than usual, this could be evidence of a fever. A cat's normal body temperature ranges between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat's immune system is fighting an infection, her temperature may elevate above the normal range, which is the definition of a fever. In addition to hot ears, other signs of a fever may include sluggishness and a reduction in appetite. If your cat's ears are hot and her demeanor is even slightly off, she must be seen as soon as possible by your veterinarian so that he can confirm a fever, determine the cause of the infection and initiate treatment.


Red, hot ears can be indicative of allergies. While human allergy sufferers often experience respiratory symptoms, cats and dogs more commonly exhibit the affects in their ears and on their skin. You may also have observed that your cat has been scratching at her ears. Allergies in cats may be caused by flea bites, environmental allergens or dietary ingredients. Once your veterinarian has ruled out other causes of your cat's hot ears, he may then shift his focus to provide symptomatic relief while determining the offending allergen.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are parasitic arachnids that crawl inside of your cat's ear canals and feed off of the tissues and debris in her ears. Cats with ear mites are extremely itchy and will persistently scratch their ears. This scratching leads to inflammation of the ears, which can make them feel hot to the touch. In addition to intense scratching and hot ears, you will likely notice an excessive amount of debris in your cat's ears. This debris resembles coffee grinds. Cats with ear mites are miserable and uncomfortable, and a prolonged infestation can result in a secondary ear infection. Ear mites are easy for your veterinarian to diagnose and treat.

Ear Infection

An ear infection can cause your cat to scratch at her ears and rub her ears on the carpet or on corners of furniture. This scratching can result in inflammation, redness and hot ears. Other warning signs of an ear infection may include head shaking, excessive amounts of waxy debris and a foul odor in the ear. Seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible to provide your cat with relief before she sustains damage to her ear drums.


Hyperthyroidism is one of the most common health conditions to afflict senior cats. When a cat has hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid gland, her metabolism increases. This results in an elevated heart rate and body temperature. Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats may include an increased appetite, weight loss and restless behavior. If your older cat exhibits hot ears or any of these other signs, bring her to your veterinarian right away. Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed by blood testing, and the condition must be treated in order to prevent secondary hypertension and heart failure.