Why Are My Indoor Cat’s Ears Cold?

Petting your cat’s face is one of the best feelings being an indoor cat owner. Some cats like their ears being rubbed between your fingers but it can be surprising and concerning when their ears feel cold to the touch. Almost all of the time this isn’t really a cause for concern. You also won’t be able to diagnose any ailments for your indoor cat from the temperature of their ears alone. In very extreme cases cold ears can be a sign of hypothermia. Although indoor cats are normally shielded from ailments like this medical complications could be causing them to suffer. Read on to find out why your cat’s ears could be cold and when we think you should be concerned about this.  

Reasons your cat’s ears could be cold

Your cat’s ears have a large surface area, they are made up of many delicate muscles but a lot of the ear is cartilage. This means that if the temperature of your room is cool your cat’s ears will be the first thing to lose body heat. In other words, your cat’s ears might be cold to the touch because the outside is cold.

It will be normal for your cat’s ears to be a bit cooler than the rest of their body. Parts of any animal’s body generally have lower blood circulation the further they get away from the heart. Lower blood pressure means less hot blood is passing through the body part to heat it up. Again this is a normal phenomenon, if your cat’s ears are slightly cooler than the rest of their body there should be no cause for concern. If your cat is cold they will reduce blood to their ears to keep their core body temperature warmer.

There is a chance that your cat’s ears are cold because the rest of their body is also cold. A cat’s core body should normally be 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, just a few degrees higher than yours. If your cat has hypothermia their core body temperature will be lower than this and their extremities including their paws, legs, and ears will be lower still. It doesn’t necessarily have to be cod in your house for your cat to suffer from hypothermia. Cats can still suffer from hypothermia after shock, malnutrition, and several diseases.  

Should I be worried if my cat’s ears are cold?

We would not be concerned if our cat’s ears are cold occasionally, especially if the place they are living in is a bit cool. Although a cat’s ears should usually be warm, your living space might have just cooled down recently. You could consider putting the temperature up a few degrees or making a warm hiding space for your cat if you think that they are uncomfortable with the temperature.   

Many other cat blogs have warned that cold ears can be a sign of hypothermia. While we don’t disagree with this, we would also say that there are many other much more obvious signs that your cat is suffering from hypothermia or the cold. We’ve gone over these in more detail in our previous article about indoor cats being cold here. Main things to look out for are your at seeking warmer places, shrinking their body, puffing up their fur, and shivering. Hypothermia in cats has more extreme symptoms such as respiratory problems and lethargy.  

It’s very difficult for you to actually measure your cat’s temperature by touch. Not only is heat a difficult thing for humans to guess, but your cat is probably covered in a layer of insulating fur. The only real way to confirm if your cat has hypothermia is for a vet to take an internal body temperature reading. Hypothermia is a very serious medical condition that can result in death if not treated immediately so do not hesitate to call a vet if you suspect something is wrong.

The writers at PetsIndoors are not vets and we don’t give veterinarian advice. If you have concerns about your cat’s health, no matter how small they are, you should always make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

Conclusion

Cat ears can be cold to the touch for several reasons and most of them are not any cause for concern. In most cases your cat is probably just slightly cold and is trying to conserve body heat, they would probably appreciate a space to warm up but they probably aren’t too uncomfortable to begin with. In some cases, cold ears can be a sign of hypothermia or other illnesses. There are normally a range of other more obvious symptoms that go along with this but you should always contact your vet if you have concern’s about your cat’s health.