Checking your cat regularly for abnormities or illness is a great habit to get in, especially so you can establish what is normal for them and what isn’t.
I know a few years back we found a lesion on our cat Beau and I’m confident in saying, we wouldn’t have noticed it if we didn’t check/pet Beau’s fur daily. I specifically remember petting Beau and feeling a bump on his back, then asking my partner whether or not his back felt normal. At first, we thought maybe we were imagining that the lesion was there, but after pulling Beau’s hair back a bit we noticed some redness between the follicles. So, when we took Beau to the vet we had him shaved down and voila, there was the lesion in all of its glory.
While truthfully there are a number of methods and routines you can adopt to ensure your cat is healthy, a great routine to get into is checking your cat’s ears. Reason being: cat’s ears can be very deceiving and if you don’t know what your cat’s ears are like normally you may be rushing your cat to the vet for nothing!
CATS USE THEIR EARS TO REGULATE THEIR BODY TEMPERATURE
The biggest reason it’s important to get into the habit of checking your cat’s ears is that they are used to regulate your cat’s body temperature. What do I mean by that? Well since a cat’s ears are fairly exposed with minimal hair, fat and are fairly thin it makes it very easy for them to release extra heat when temperatures are too hot.
Cats have a number of blood vessels running through their ears, which you can usually see when shining a light through your cat’s ears. These blood vessels will expand and contract based on the weather.
So, what are some good key points to remember? If your cat’s ears are very hot because the weather is hot, you probably have nothing to worry about. If your cat sleeps with their paws on their ears, there’s probably nothing to worry about. If the weather is cold, or your cat has had no access to heat there is a chance that your cat is sick, however, it is important to note that there are usually other symptoms that coincide with hot or warm ears.
Although not the most common symptom from allergies, some allergic reactions in cats have been known to redden or even heat up a cat’s ears. Other symptoms of allergies may be but are not limited to, vomiting, diarrhea, hot spots, rashes, loss of hair or even lethargy.
That being said, allergies are not the easiest to crack when it comes to cats since there are accurate tests available to vets. That being said, the most common allergens are foods (most commonly wheat/grains and poultry), but bites (such as fleas and ticks), strong soaps or cleaning products, or even certain materials.
Allergens aren’t usually fatal, however, having consultations with the vet and keeping track of things that may be allergins will be required in hopes of easing your cat’s discomfort. That being said, it may take a few months before you can confirm what the exact allergen may be since it will require quite a bit of trial and error.
EAR MITES OR INFECTIONS
Although it’s not the first thing that comes to mind if your cat has warm/hot ears that are bright red they may either have an ear infection or an ear infestation.
Ear infections commonly cause inflammation in the ear tissues (also known as otitis of the epithelium). These infections are commonly caused by debris getting stuck in cuts or abrasions. Similar to humans, redness from cuts usually is a sign that the body is trying to fight infection and repair itself. Ear infections commonly heal by themselves, however, dependant on how extreme the infection is, some medication or antibiotics may speed the process up by quite a bit.
Ear infestations, on the other hand, are the absolute most common ear problems cats experience, especially if they have access to the outdoors. These infestations are usually by fleas and ear mites and again, a vet visit is required. Mites and fleas will feed off of a cat’s ears as the ears do not have a lot of hair, making it a lot easier for them to get the nutrients they need to survive. That all being said, I strongly recommend that you do not use over the counter medications that are sold in pet stores as many have been proven to cause further irritation to cats and have even caused irreversible burns. If your vet recommends over the counter medications for your cats please ask them for extra directions on how to facilitate the medication.
Mites are fairly difficult to see as they are very small, so it may be difficult for you to diagnose your cat on your own. That being said, mites lay eggs fairly frequently and if they are not eradicated the eggs will hatch every 21 days or so. Mites will also cause a foul smell in your cat’s ear as well as cause your cat to want to itch their ear more frequently and aggressive than usual.
This is probably the most common worry pet parents have when they realize that their cat’s ears are hot. While fevers are definitely a cause for hot eats, fevers aren’t as common as you would think in cats.
If you suspect your cat has a fever begin examining your cat’s paws. If you notice they are sweaty or sweatier than usual, this is usually a sign that your cat is experiencing a higher body temperature than normal. (Note: cats don’t sweat the same way that humans do and can only sweat through their paws.)
If your cat has a fever they will usually also have a dry nose that is warm. That being said, if you want to confirm that your cat has a fever before taking them to the vet you may want to grab a thermometer and take their temperature. If your cat’s temperature sits between 99.5ºF (37.5ºC) and 102.5ºF (39ºC), you’re safe. Anything above 103.5ºF (39.5ºC) definitely needs a vet visit.
Fevers are commonly related to bacterial, fungal or viral infections and always need a professional to look over them. Other serious causes of fevers include lupus or tumours, however, can also be caused by medication or even trauma/injuries. Due to the wide gap in severity, it would be pretty hard for a pet parent to diagnose the cause by themselves.
At the end of the day in most cases, you should be completely fine if your cat has warm ears as it is probably them trying to regulate their body temperature.
It’s always a good idea to have a spare thermometer on hand just in case you are worried that your cat has a fever and in general be logging your cat’s behaviour. Are they itching more frequently? Does it seem like they are spending more time in the sunlight? Is your cat’s behaviour changing? Did they eat something different? Are there any signs of rashes, loss of hair or other symptoms of allergies?
If ever you have any concerns or believe your cat has mites, fever, or even allergies make sure to take them to the vet immediately. (Especially the first two.) These are ailments that need to be treated quickly and effectively so they do not spread to other cats or cause irreparable harm to your cat.
So pet parents, have you ever noticed anything weird about your cat’s ears? Let me know in the comments below!