Ear Hematomas in Cats
A hematoma, commonly referred to as a "blood blister," is a blood pocket that occurs within an organ or tissue. Aural (ear) hematomas form between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap and vary in size and location. Cat ear hematomas are uncommon, but that makes it the more important for pet parents to understand what to look for and what to do if their cat develops one.
Causes & Symptoms of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Trauma or injury to the area is usually the cause of cat ear hematomas. When the blood vessels in a cat's ear are broken, they rupture and bleed into the surrounding area, filling it with blood and causing the hematoma. The following are the most common causes of cat eat hematomas:
- Scratching and shaking of your cat's head caused by:
- ear infection
- ear mites
- skin allergies
- foreign object in the ear canal
- Scratches or bites from the environment or other animals
- Underlying health concerns and conditions
Diagnosis of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Diagnosing ear hematomas in cats can usually easily be done just by your vet visually examining or feeling the cat's ears, and may be easiest to spot if there is also an infection present.
If your vet is still unsure after a physical examination they may take a blood sample to determine the cause and confirm the hematoma.
Treatment for Ear Hematomas in Cats
Surgery is the most usually suggested treatment for ear hematomas. If your pet cannot be anesthetized or the hematoma is minor, your veterinarian may decide to drain it instead. This treatment will remove the hematoma, but it is not a long-term remedy because the issue will most likely return. Ear hematoma surgery is a long-term solution to your pet's problem that avoids extensive scarring.
During treatment, your vet will also treat any underlying cause of the hematoma to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
Ear Hematoma Surgery for Cats
Ear hematoma surgery is the most common and effective treatment for ear hematomas in cats. While the process may differ depending on the situation and veterinary surgeon, there will always be conventional steps. They are as follows:
- A small incision will be made at each end of the hematoma to remove the blood from the pinna. A drainage tube will be sutured into the hematoma to drain any fluids that build up or the vet may choose to completely open the area to prevent a buildup of blood and fluids.
- The veterinary surgeon will close up the area where the blood accumulated permanently preventing further hematomas.
- The pinna will be supported to allow for proper healing through the cat's recovery process after ear hematoma surgery.
Once the ear hematoma has been resolved your vet will treat any additional conditions related to the ear hematoma.
As your cat heals the vet will remove any drainage tubes, bandages, or sutures when it is safe to do so.
What Happens if Ear Hematomas Are Left Untreated
While ear hematomas will drain, heal and scar on their own this is not recommended. If left untreated, the following may occur.
- While healing the ear hematoma will cause swelling and pressure which will be very painful for your cat.
- The ear flap could become swollen and prevent you from being able to treat any infection that may be present.
- The process of ear hematomas in cats healing on their own could take a very long time.
- 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 good chance that it will leave an excess amount of scar tissue.
If your cat is experiencing an ear hematoma it is best to have it examined by their vet and treated through surgery to decrease pain, speed up healing and prevent this condition from happening again. Ask your vet directly about the cost of ear hematoma surgery for cats. They should be able to provide you with a more accurate estimate.