If you notice that your cat has developed an ear hematoma, you might be wondering how to help. Today, our Orange Park 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 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.
Be gentle when touching the swelling because your cat might complain if it feels tight or soft to the touch. Watch your cat's behavior as well as any changes to the appearance of its ears. If their ear is inflamed or tender, they might groom it more frequently than usual or avoid being touched.
Diagnosis & Treatment Of Ear Hematomas In Cats
Your veterinarian will thoroughly inspect your cat's ears for mites and infections. Aside from the injury to the area, these are common causes of hematomas, particularly if your pet is susceptible to infections. Your veterinarian may take a needle sample to confirm the nature of the condition, depending on the circumstances.
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 veterinarian 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
To drain the blood pocket, the veterinarian makes a small surgical incision in the ear flap. After that, 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 at the site.
Contact your vet directly if you're concerned about the cost of aural hematoma surgery for cats. They should be able to provide you with an estimate.
What happens if you leave a cat's ear hematoma untreated?
If the hematoma is left untreated, it will eventually dissolve, but the ensuing inflammation will have harmed the tissues around the ear, causing it to resemble a cauliflower. Because they cause excruciating pain, aural hematomas should be treated humanely.
Your cat could feel some tenderness or discomfort in their ear after hematoma surgery, 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.
The best ways to care for your feline friend at home while they are recovering from surgery, as well as when to go back for follow-up visits and to have the stitches taken out, will be explained to you by your veterinarian.
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.