If you notice that your cat has developed an ear hematoma, you might be wondering how to help. Today, our Beacon vet team talks about the causes of aural hematomas in cats, symptoms, and treatment options.
A hematoma, also known as a "blood blister," is a blood pocket that forms inside of an organ or tissue. Aural (ear) hematomas develop between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap, though their size and location can vary. Cat ear hematomas don't happen often, but that just makes it more crucial for pet parents to know what to look for and what to do if their cat develops one.
What Causes Ear Hematomas In Cats?
A trauma or injury is typically the cause of an ear hematoma. Small blood vessels in the cat's ear flap are vulnerable to damage, which leads to internal bleeding and the formation of a blood-filled swelling or pocket. Cat ear hematomas have a number of common causes, such as:
- Your kitty scratching their ears or shaking their heads due to:
- ear infection
- ear mites
- skin allergies
- foreign object in ear canal
- Scratches or bites (e.g. sharp thorns, fights with other cats)
- Underlying health issues
Symptoms Of Ear Hematoma In Cats
The most typical indication that your pet has an ear hematoma is probably going to be a new bump or swelling on the ear. The ear flap will likely swell and possibly droop under its weight if it is large enough.
When you touch the swelling, it might feel tight or squishy, but be gentle. If the area is tender, your cat will probably complain. In addition to changes in the appearance of your cat's ears, pay attention to their behavior. They may groom the area more frequently than usual or avoid being touched if their ear is inflamed or tender.
Diagnosis & Treatment Of Ear Hematomas In Cats
Your veterinarian will carefully examine your cat's ears for mites or infections. Aside from 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 treatment for 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 veterinarian may be able to drain the site with a needle. While this is a suitable procedure for some hematomas, it isn't ideal, and the problem is likely to reoccur. Aural hematoma surgery is a permanent solution to your pet's problem, and having hematomas surgically removed can reduce scarring.
Your vet will also treat the underlying issue causing the hematoma (e.g. infection, allergy).
Aural Hematoma Surgery For Cats
The veterinarian will make a small surgical incision in the ear flap to drain the blood pocket. Following that, your veterinarian will use tiny sutures to close the pocket and prevent further blood or infection accumulation. The ear will be bandaged to prevent blood from accumulating at the site.
Contact your vet directly if your concerned about the cost of your cat's ear hematoma surgery. They should be able to give you a more accurate estimate.
After ear hematoma surgery, 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 veterinarian will provide you with 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.
What happens if you leave a cat ear hematoma untreated?
An ear hematoma that is not treated will eventually go away on its own, but not before your cat has suffered for several weeks. The ear will not feel or look natural because both sides of the ear frequently develop thick, wrinkly scar tissue.
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.