Have you noticed that your cat has developed an ear hematoma? You might be wondering what to do. In this post, our Concord vets talk 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. This is sometimes called a "blood blister". While it can vary in size and location, in the case of aural (ear) hematomas, they appear between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap. Though these don't occur frequently in cats, this makes it all the more important for pet parents to know how to identify signs and what to do if their cat develops an ear hematoma.
What Causes Ear Hematomas In Cats?
Typically, the cause of ear hematoma is related to trauma or injury. The small blood vessels in a cat's ear flap can become damaged. When this happens, the vessels break, resulting in internal leaks and likely a blood-filled pocket or swelling. This may lead to your kitty scratching its ears or shaking their head. Common causes of cat ear hematomas include:
- Skin allergies
- Ear infection
- Ear mites
- Foreign object in ear canal
- Bites or scratches (e.g. from sharp thorns or fights with other cats)
- Underlying health conditions
Symptoms Of Ear Hematoma In Cats
If your cat has an ear hematoma, you may see a new bump, swelling on the ear or other common signs. If it's grown large enough, the ear flap itself will be swollen and potentially cause it to droop under its weight.
The swelling may feel squishy or tight to the touch, so be gentle — your cat will likely voice their discomfort if the spot is tender. Besides changes in the appearance of your cat's ear, monitor their behavior. If their ear is tender, swelling or irritated, they may groom the spot more than usual or be hesitant to allow touch.
What Happens if You Leave a Cat Ear Hematoma Untreated?
Left untreated, a feline ear hematoma may slowly be reabsorbed. However, the associated inflammation will have caused damage to the surrounding ear tissues, leading to a distorted, cauliflower-shaped ear. Because aural hematomas can be very painful, they should be treated for humane reasons.
Diagnosis & Treatment Of Ear Hematomas In Cats
Your veterinarian will closely examine your feline friend's ears for mites or infections. These are common causes of hematoma aside from injury to the area, especially if your pet is prone to infections. Depending on the case, your vet might use a needle to take a sample to confirm the nature of the condition.
A simple surgical procedure is the most commonly recommended method to address the issue of ear hematomas. If the hematoma on your cat's ear is small or your pet cannot be safely put under anesthesia, it may be possible for your vet to try to drain the site with a needle. While this is a suitable procedure for some hematomas, it isn't ideal and the issue is likely to arise again. Aural hematoma surgery is a permanent solution for 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
If your feline friend has been diagnosed with aural hematoma, your vet may recommend scheduling your cat in for surgery to remove it.
This procedure 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.
How Much Does a Cat Ear Hematoma Surgery Cost?
Costs may vary depending on a number of factors. When surgery is needed to treat an ear hematoma, anesthetic drugs are needed, as are multiple medical professionals. Your veterinarian may also request blood work to determine if your dog is healthy enough for 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.
You will receive instructions and helpful advice from your vet on how to administer home care for your feline friend as they are recovering from surgery at home, 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.