Why Are My Cats Ears Cold? (5 Typical Reasons)

Nothing beats cuddles with your cat at the end of the day, especially on cold days when they’re like fluffy hot water bottles. But if their body temperature is on average a few degrees higher than ours, cats can also feel cold.

A cat’s ears are the appendage most likely to get cold on occasion, and the reasons range from mild to serious. Being able to determine the cause of your cat’s cold ears will help you decide if veterinary assistance is needed or if your cat just needs more cuddles to warm up.

The 5 reasons why cats ears are cold?

1. Anxiety

Stress affects everyone in strange ways, and cats can show strange symptoms when they they feel anxious about something. Cold ears are a sign that they are uncomfortable or that something has bothered them. This could be due to a new environment if you recently moved to a new house or if someone they don’t know is in the house.

To reduce your cat’s anxiety, reassure her that everything is fine by giving her time to adjust. Reassuring them with a familiar, stable routine and their favorite toys and blankets can also help them settle down.

tabby cat lying on the bed
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Shutterstock

2. Behavior

Cold ears do not always indicate an underlying health problem. Sometimes it’s just the result of your cat’s behavior. If you notice that he has cold ears while curled up in your lap or sleeping, it may simply be due to reduced blood flow.

Every time your cat sits long enough, her body adapts to reduce her metabolism and heat production to conserve her energy for later. Cold ears, in this case, are completely normal and nothing to worry about.

3. Frostbite

When a person is exposed to freezing conditions, they can get frostbite, which is caused by blood vessels in the coldest areas of the body constricting to keep blood flow concentrated in the core. This keeps the body’s core temperature stable, with the downside of leaving extremities at risk of freezing due to reduced blood flow.

Cats are excellent at regulating their body heat, but even they are not immune to temperature extremes. If they spend enough time outdoors, especially in the winter, they can develop frostbite. Their ears, as well as their legs and tail, are the most likely to suffer from frostbite.

Frostbite requires a trip to the vet and can be recognized by these symptoms:

  • Black or dead skin
  • Blisters
  • Coldness
  • Pale, gray, or bluish skin
  • Pain
  • Swelling
tabby cat in the snow
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Unsplash

4. Hypothermia

While frostbite affects the extremities, hypothermia is the result of the core body temperature dropping below normal, which is 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) for a cat. Cats that spend too much time in the cold or suffer from metabolic dysfunction, such as hypothyroidism or low blood sugar, are at risk of developing hypothermia. This is the result of your cat’s body losing heat faster than it can produce it.

Cold ears can be a sign that your cat’s core body temperature is too low, and you should check with a rectal thermometer. Hypothermia should be treated as soon as possible and requires carefully warming your cat with blankets, hot water bottles, and sometimes hot liquids. Severe cases may require a visit to your veterinarian.

5. Weather

Although cold ears can often be a sign of a serious health condition, your cat may simply be chilly because he got caught in the rain during his outdoor adventure. This can quickly lead to frostbite or hypothermia if it gets too cold, but usually your cat just needs a hug to warm up.

If their favorite place to nap is in a draught, it can also allow them to get too cold even though they are safe inside.

Your cat will often stay indoors in cold weather. If they get caught off guard while they’re adventuring, they’ll probably be happy to steal your lap for a quick nap or cuddle up by the fire.

tabby kitten hiding from the rain
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Pixabay


Most of the time, cats are good at managing their own temperature. However, they are not immune to the effects of the cold and sometimes need extra help to warm up. Your cat’s ears may be cold from feeling anxious or from being outside in cold weather. It can also be the result of a serious problem like frostbite or hypothermia.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

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