If your cat has an ear hematoma, you may wonder how you can help your pet. Here, our Middlesex vets explain what causes aural hematomas in cats, symptoms and treatment options.
Also referred to as a 'blood blister', a hematoma is a pocket of blood that forms within tissue or an organ. Aural (ear) hematomas develop between the skin and the cartilage of your cat's ear flap and may vary in location and size. While they are uncommon in cats, this makes it even more imperative for kitty owners to be aware of what to look for and which steps to take if their cat develops an ear hematoma.
What Causes Ear Hematomas in Cats?
Trauma or injury are the most common causes of ear hematomas in cats. If the small blood vessels in a cat's ear flap are damaged, they break and leak internally, causing a blood-filled pocket or swelling to develop. Some of the most common causes of cat ear hematomas include:
- Your kitty scratching their ears or shaking their heads due to:
- ear mites
- ear infection
- foreign object in the ear canal
- skin allergies
- Scratches or bites (e.g. sharp thorns, fights with other cats)
- Underlying health issues
Signs of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Swelling in the ear is the most common sign that cats are likely to exhibit if they have an ear hematoma. If the hematoma is large enough, the ear flap itself will swell, which can cause the ear flap to droop under its weight.
The swelling may feel squishy or tight to the touch. Be gentle -your cat will most likely express their displeasure, especially if the spot is tender. Aside from changes in appearance, monitor your cat's behavior. They may groom the area more frequently or try to avoid being touched if they have an irritated or tender ear.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Aside from the injury to the area, your vet will examine your cat's ears for mites or infections, as 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 and make a definitive diagnosis.
Surgery is the most commonly recommended treatment for ear hematomas. 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
The veterinarian will make a small surgical incision in the ear flap to drain the blood pocket. Once cleared, your veterinarian will use tiny sutures to close the pocket and prevent further blood or infection buildup. The vet or vet surgeon will bandage the ear to prevent blood from accumulating there. When it comes to estimating the price of a cat hematoma surgery, many factors can play a role. Contact your veterinarian directly for a cost estimate.
Contact your veterinarian directly for an estimate of the cost of cat aural hematoma surgery.
What Happens If You Leave a Cat's Ear Hematoma Untreated?
Left untreated, an ear hematoma will eventually heal on its own, but your cat will be uncomfortable for weeks. Both sides of the ear will often form thick, wrinkled scar tissue, so the ear won’t look or feel natural.
Recovery From Aural Hematoma Surgery
After aural hematoma surgery, your cat may experience some tenderness or discomfort for a few days, 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 in their ear after their hematoma surgery.
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.