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Aural Hematoma in Cats: When is Surgery Needed?

If your cat's ear is swollen, it may have an ear hematoma. In this post, our Vienna vets discuss what causes ear hematomas in cats, common symptoms, and effective treatment options.

What are aural (ear) hematomas in cats? 

A hematoma is a pocket of blood that can form within an organ or tissue, also known as a 'blood blister'. In cats, aural (ear) hematomas appear between the cartilage and skin of the ear flap. Although they are not common, it is important for cat owners to be able to identify ear hematomas and take appropriate action if their feline friend develops one.

What are the causes of aural hematomas in cats?

Cat ear hematoma is usually caused by an injury or trauma that damages the small blood vessels in the ear flap. This results in internal leakage and the formation of a blood-filled pocket or swelling. Some common causes of cat ear hematomas include:

Ear Scratching or Head Shaking

A cat may scratch their ears or shake their heads due to ear mites, infection in the ear, a foreign object caught in the ear canal or skin allergies.

Bites or Scratches

Fights with other cats or sharp thorns can leave bite or scratch marks on the ear. Underlying health issues may also be to blame. 

What are the signs of ear hematoma in cats? 

If your cat has an ear hematoma, you might notice a new bump or swelling on their ear. Sometimes, the swelling can be large enough to make the ear flap droop under its weight. The swelling may feel squishy or tight, but be cautious as it might be tender. Keep an eye on your cat's behavior as well. If they have an irritated or painful ear, they may groom the spot more than usual or avoid being touched.

How is aural hematoma in cats diagnosed?

If your cat has a hematoma on their ear, it could be caused by an injury, ear infection or ear mites. It's important to take your cat to the vet for a close examination of their ears, especially if they are prone to infections. Your vet may also take a sample of the hematoma using a needle to determine the exact nature of your cat's condition.

What is the treatment for aural hematoma in cats?

Surgery is often recommended for treating aural hematomas in cats. The vet makes a small incision in the ear flap to drain the blood pocket. Tiny sutures close the pocket and prevent blood or infection from accumulating again. 

The vet or veterinary surgeon will bandage the ear to prevent blood from building up on the site. 

If the hematoma on your feline companion's ear is small or your kitty cannot safely undergo anesthesia, your vet may choose to recommend draining the site with a needle. 

While this is an option to treat some hematomas, it isn't ideal, and the problem is likely to return. Aural hematomas in cats can typically be effectively treated with surgery, a permanent solution. Having hematomas surgically removed can also reduce scarring. 

Your veterinarian will also treat the underlying cause of the hematoma (e.g. allergy or infection). 

What happens if you leave a cat's ear hematoma untreated?

While ear hematomas will drain, heal, and scar on their own, this is not recommended. If left untreated, the following may occur:

  • The ear hematoma may cause swelling while healing, which can be very painful for cats
  • The ear flap may swell and prevent you from being able to treat any infection that might be present.
  • It may take a very long time for ear hematomas in cats to heal on their own.
  • There is an increased possibility of ear hematomas reoccurring if left to heal on their own. 
  • If an ear hematoma heals naturally, there is a higher risk for excess car tissue.

If your cat has an ear hematoma, it's best to have it examined by one of our veterinarians in Vienna and treated with surgery to decrease pain, speed healing, and prevent the condition from reoccurring.

Post-Surgery Recovery

Your cat may experience tenderness or discomfort for a few days following the procedure, but your vet will provide medications to address pain and prevent infection and inflammation.

Your cat will need to wear a cone to stop them from scratching or rubbing 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.

How much does cat ear hematoma surgery cost?

The cost of ear hematoma surgery for cats can vary significantly based on several factors, such as the severity of the condition, your location, and the veterinary practice you choose. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with an estimate of the cost of the procedure and can also address any questions or concerns you may have regarding the surgery.

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.

Does your cat have a hematoma in its ear? Contact our Vienna vets today to book an examination.

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Hope Advanced Veterinary Center is always accepting new patients! Our board-certified vets and specialists are passionate about restoring good health to Vienna's pets.

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