If your cat’s ears feel hot to the touch, it could signal a problem. As some of the conditions that can cause hot ears are serious, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible. While you shouldn’t risk making a diagnosis yourself, it’s worth noting any other symptoms your cat may have to help your vet get to the root of the problem. Here, we look at some of the most common causes of hot ears in cats.
A healthy cat will have a temperature of between 101- and 102.5-degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat’s ears feel hot, it could indicate a fever, which in itself could indicate an infection. A fever is usually accompanied by other symptoms, including lethargy and a loss of appetite. If you suspect a fever, the best way of knowing for sure is to take their temperature using a regular thermometer or pediatric rectal glass. As Vet Info advises, a high fever is indicated by a temperature that exceeds 102.5 degrees. A temperature of 104 and above is a cause for immediate concern, as very high temperatures over a sustained period can result in dehydration, seizures, or even brain damage. Seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible; your vet will then determine the cause of the infection and begin treatment.
If your cat is in their senior years, their hot ears might well be a sign of hyperthyroidism. The condition is caused by an overactive thyroid gland and is remarkably common in aging cats. One of the main indicators of the disease is a raised metabolic rate, which in turn results in an elevated heart rate and raised body temperature. Other symptoms common to hyperthyroidism include weight loss, a ravenous appetite, and restlessness. As the condition can trigger secondary hypertension and heart failure, get them checked as soon as possible.
If your cat’s hot ears are accompanied by a waxy, foul-smelling debris, they might have an ear infection. You might also notice them shaking their head more than normal, scratching their ears excessively, or rubbing their head against the furniture. Although ear infections are usually mild, left untreated they could cause permanent damage to the eardrum. To avoid any problems, get a vet to check them over as soon as possible.
Strange though it sounds, stress can sometimes be the reason behind your cat’s hot ears. Extreme anxiety can result in spontaneous hypertension, which in turn can cause an elevated heart rate, a rush of blood to the head, and warm ears. If your cat’s ears vary in temperature constantly, and if they are also displaying any unusual behaviors, you may have a stressed cat on your hands.
Some problems start small but quickly escalate. As Senior Cat Wellness notes, a small amount of wax in your cat’s ears is perfectly healthy and normal. However, if it’s left to build up in large quantities, it can cause multiple issues, including damaged hearing, bacterial infections, and parasite infestations – all of which can cause hot ears. Avoid the problem by getting into the habit of cleaning their ears weekly.
Sometimes, hot ears could be a sign of a growth. Not all growths are a serious cause of concern, but they may need to be removed if they cause discomfort. Polyps are non-cancerous, benign growths found in the inner ear. While polyps are not a danger in themselves, they can cause several unpleasant secondary symptoms, including respiratory problems and difficulties in eating if the polyps stretch into the throat. Most polyps are visible to the naked eye, but others will require an x-ray or scan to detect. Usually, polyps can be easily removed through surgery: if they re-occur, your vet may recommend an alternative, more permanent treatment.
If your cat’s hot ears are accompanied by excessive scratching and a large amount of debris that looks similar to coffee grounds, they may have ear mites. As Cuteness notes, ear mites are parasitic arachnids that infest the inner ear canals and feast on the tissues and debris found there. An infestation isn’t just a miserable experience; left to fester, it can lead to a secondary ear infection. Fortunately, ear mites are easy to diagnose and just as easy to treat.
Cysts are relatively common in cats and are usually caused by Ceruminous cystomatosis. Appearing as small blue or purple nodes, Ceruminous cystomatosis is usually nothing at all to be worried about, and is often nothing more than an aesthetic concern. Occasionally, the nodes can cause an ear infection, in which case your vet may recommend their removal. Other causes of ear cysts include ingrowing hairs, trapped air, or bites. Although these kinds of cysts are painless and will usually disappear of their own accord, they can occasionally grow and end up clogging the ear canal. If this happens, your vet will usually remove the cyst by draining it with a needle.
One of the most concerning causes of hot ears in cats is cancerous tumors. Tumors are associated with inflamed looking lumps that will feel hot and be painful to the touch. Immediate veterinary assistance should be sought if you suspect your cat has a tumor. Diagnosis is confirmed by a series of tests and scans, and you may need to be referred to a specialist. Treatment usually consists of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. For the greatest chances of a full recovery, early treatment is crucial, so don’t hesitate in seeking help as soon as you suspect a problem.
Hot ears can sometimes be one of the signs of an allergy. If this is the case, you will also notice a range of other symptoms, including excessive scratching, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, and swollen paws. The cause of the allergy is usually something in the house, with dust, smoke, air fresheners, cleaning products, and even certain fabrics all being common allergy triggers.