What Are The Symptoms Of Cat Ears Cold?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

Have you noticed your cat seems extra grumpy lately? She’s shaking her head more than usual and doesn’t seem interested in playing. These could be signs that your furry friend has come down with a case of cat ears cold, also known as feline upper respiratory infection.

Getting the sniffles and sneezes is never fun, but did you know cats can suffer from colds too? As pet parents, it’s important for us to be familiar with the symptoms of cat ears cold so we can provide proper care and help our feline friends feel better when illness strikes. Often caused by viruses like feline herpesvirus-1 or calicivirus, cat ears colds can manifest with sneezing, a runny nose, head shaking, and—as the name implies—red, swollen, or itchy ears. While ear colds are rarely serious in healthy cats, they can cause discomfort and even more severe illnesses if left untreated. In this post, I’ll explore the telltale signs of cat ears colds and provide tips for care and treatment to get your cat feeling like their perky, playful selves again in no time.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cat Ears Cold?

Cats, even though they may seem robust, are susceptible to cold temperatures and can develop a condition known as cat ear cold, more commonly known as ear hypothermia. The symptoms of this ailment include:

  • Ears feeling cold to the touch.
  • Pale or blue-tinged ears.
  • Lethargy or decreased activity.
  • Shivering.
  • Prolonged sleeping or unusual withdrawal.
  • Changes in appetite or water consumption.
  • Behavioral changes such as agitation or aggression.
  • Lack of coordination or balance, indicative of a severe condition. 

Please note: If you observe these symptoms in your cat, it is highly recommended that you contact your veterinarian immediately.

Cat with floppy ear | A couple of days ago my Maine Coon cat… | Flickr

How Does Cat Ears Cold Affect Cats?

The effect of cat ear cold on our feline friends can be substantial and varied. Here are some ways in which this condition can affect cats:

Physical Discomfort: Cats experience physical discomfort and pain, particularly in the affected ears, which can be severe in some cases.

Impaired Hearing: If the condition is severe, it may temporarily or permanently impair the cat’s hearing.

Movement Difficulty: Lack of coordination or balance can make it difficult for the cat to move around and walking slowly, potentially making them more prone to accidents and injuries.

Behavioral Changes: Cats may become unusually aggressive or withdrawn due to discomfort or pain.

Reduced Activity Levels: The lethargy associated with this condition can reduce a cat’s activity levels and disrupt their usual routines.

Decreased Appetite: Changes in appetite, often a reduction, can lead to weight loss and associated health problems if not addressed promptly.

Potential for Other Health Issues: If left untreated, ear hypothermia can lead to more severe health issues, including frostbite, hypothermia affecting the entire body, or in extreme cases, a life-threatening situation. 

What Is The Treatment For Cat Ears Cold?

The treatment for cat ear cold or ear hypothermia largely depends on the severity of the condition. It is absolutely crucial to get a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian. Typically, the initial step involves warming the cat’s body gradually to prevent shock. This can be done by wrapping the cat in warm (not hot), dry towels, or using a pet-safe heating pad. 

In severe cases, the vet may administer warm IV fluids. Pain management is also an important part of the treatment to make the cat more comfortable. Any changes in appetite or behavior should be addressed, and supportive care such as providing a warm and safe environment is essential. Furthermore, it is crucial to prevent recurrence by keeping the cat indoors during extremely cold weather or providing adequate outdoor shelter if the cat cannot be kept indoors. 

Remember, never use a hairdryer, heating pad, or any other direct heat source to warm the cat’s ears, as this can lead to burns. Always consult with your veterinarian for the best course of action.

Read more: What Are Dry Cat Paws?

Is Cat Ears Cold Contagious To Other Cats Or Animals?

Cat ear cold, or ear hypothermia, is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one animal to another. It is a condition that arises due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and does not involve any infectious agent or pathogen. Therefore, it poses no risk to other pets in the household. However, it’s important to note that cold weather conditions can affect all animals, so it’s crucial to provide adequate warmth and shelter for all pets during cold weather.

How Can I Help My Cat Recover From Cat Ears Cold?

There are several ways in which you can help your cat recover from cat ears cold:

Follow your vet’s instructions: Make sure you understand and follow all instructions given by your vet. This might include medication, diet changes, or special care arrangements.

Ensure comfort and warmth: Keep your cat in a warm and comfortable environment. Use pet-friendly heating pads or warm blankets to provide a cozy space. Avoid abrupt temperature changes.

Monitor your cat closely: Keep a close watch on your cat’s behavior, appetite, and general wellbeing. Any changes could be indicative of improvement or deterioration in their condition.

Maintain good nutrition: A balanced and nutritious diet is vital for your cat’s recovery. Consult with your vet about the best cat food choices during this period.

Hydrate: Make sure your cat drinks enough water. Dehydration can delay recovery and worsen symptoms.

Limit outdoor activities: If your cat typically spends time outdoors, you might need to restrict their outdoor activities, especially during cold weather, to prevent a recurrence.

Is There A Vaccine For Cat Ears Cold?

Currently, there is no specific vaccine available for cat ears cold or ear hypothermia. This condition is a reaction to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and does not involve an infectious agent or pathogen that vaccines typically target. The best prevention strategy is to ensure your cat is not exposed to extreme cold for extended periods. During cold weather, provide appropriate shelter or keep your cat indoors, if possible.


In conclusion, it is important to pay attention to your feline friend’s ears as they can be a great indicator of their overall health. If you notice your cat’s ear cold or any changes in temperature and appearance, it could be a sign of a cold or other underlying issue. Some symptoms to look out for include wax buildup, excessive scratching or head shaking, and ear discharge. It is also important to monitor your cat’s behavior, as they may become more lethargic or irritable when feeling under the weather. If you suspect that your cat may have a cold or another ear-related problem, it is best to consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember, early detection and treatment can make all the difference in your furry friend’s well-being.