If you notice that your cat has developed an ear hematoma, you might be wondering how to help. Today, our Rabun County vet team talks about the causes of aural hematomas in cats, symptoms, and treatment options.
A hematoma is a pocket of blood that forms within an organ or tissue and is sometimes referred to as a "blood blister." Aural (ear) hematomas appear between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap and can vary in size and location. They are uncommon in cats, but that makes it even more important for pet parents to understand what to look for and what to do if their cat develops an ear hematoma.
What Causes Ear Hematomas In Cats?
Usually, the cause of ear hematoma is trauma- or injury-related. When damage occurs to the small blood vessels located in the cat's ear flap, they break and leak internally, creating a blood-filled swelling or pocket. Some common causes of cat ear hematomas include:
- Your kitty scratching their ears or shaking their heads due to:
- ear infection
- ear mites
- skin allergies
- foreign object in the ear canal
- Scratches or bites (e.g. sharp thorns, fights with other cats)
- Underlying health issues
Symptoms Of Ear Hematoma In Cats
If your pet has an ear hematoma, the most common sign is likely to be a new bump or swelling on the ear. If it is large enough, the ear flap itself will be swollen and possibly cause it to droop under its weight.
The swelling may feel tight or squishy to the touch, but be gentle - if the spot is tender, your cat will most likely express their displeasure! Aside from changes in the appearance of your cat's ears, keep an eye on their behavior. If their ear is irritated or tender, they may groom the area more frequently than usual or avoid being touched.
Diagnosis & Treatment Of Ear Hematomas In Cats
Your veterinarian will carefully examine your cat's ears for mites or infections. Aside from the injury to the area, these are common causes of hematomas, especially if your pet is prone to infections. Depending on the circumstances, your veterinarian may take a sample with a needle to confirm the nature of the condition.
The most commonly recommended method for treating ear hematomas is a simple surgical procedure. If the hematoma on your cat's ear is small or your pet cannot be safely sedated, your vet may be able to drain the site with a needle. While this procedure is appropriate for some hematomas, it is not ideal, and the problem is likely to reoccur. Aural hematoma surgery is a permanent solution to your pet's problem, and surgical removal of hematomas can reduce scarring.
Your vet will also treat the underlying issue causing the hematoma (e.g. infection, allergy).
Aural Hematoma Surgery For Cats
Ear hematoma surgery for cats consists of the veterinarian making a small surgical incision in the ear flap to drain the blood pocket. After, your vet will use tiny sutures to close the pocket and stop blood or infection from building up again. To further ensure the site doesn't accumulate blood, the vet or vet surgeon will bandage the ear.
Contact your vet directly if you are curious about the cost of ear hematoma surgery for cats. They should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate.
What happens if you leave a cat's ear hematoma untreated?
If the hematoma is not treated, it will gradually dissolve, but the associated inflammation will have caused damage to the surrounding ear tissues, resulting in a distorted, cauliflower-shaped ear. Aural hematomas are extremely painful and should be treated for humane reasons.
Your cat could feel some amount of tenderness or discomfort for a few days following the procedure, but your vet is sure to provide medications to address pain and prevent infection and inflammation.
Your cat will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to stop them from scratching the surgical site and causing inflammation, bleeding, pulled stitches, or infection.
Your vet will give you instructions and helpful advice on how to care for your feline friend at home while they recover from surgery, as well as when to return for follow-up visits and to have the stitches removed.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.