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Ear Hematoma Surgery in Cats

Blood blisters naturally occur following trauma or injury. When it comes to cats, this most frequently happens to the ears, resulting in an ear (aural) hematoma. In this blog post, our Bonita Springs vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of a hematoma on a cat's ear.

Cat Ear Hematoma

When your cat develops a blood blister, you may hear your vet refer to it as a hematoma. These hematomas can vary in size and location, but in the case of aural (ear) hematomas, they will be present between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap.

Hematomas don't occur in cats too often, but that makes it all the more important for owners to be aware of what they look like and what to do.

What Causes Aural Hematomas in Cats?

Trauma is the most common cause of aural hematomas in cats. When the small blood vessels located in the cat's ear flap become damaged, they break and leak internally. This creates a blood-filled swelling or pocket called a hematoma. Some common causes of cat aural hematomas include:

  • Your kitty scratching their ears or shaking their heads due to:
    • an ear infection
    • ear mites
    • skin allergies
    • a foreign object lodges in the ear canal
  • Scratches or bites (e.g. sharp thorns, fights with other cats)
  • Underlying health issues

Symptoms of an Ear Hematoma in Cats 

If your cat has an aural hematoma, you will likely notice a bump or swelling on their ear. If the hematoma is large enough, the ear flap itself might appear swollen and may even droop under the weight.

The swelling may feel tight or squishy to the touch, but be gentle. Your cat probably will voice their discomfort if the spot is sensitive! Besides physical signs, keep an eye on your cat's behavior. If their ear is irritated or tender, they may groom the spot more than usual, or shy away from being touched, especially around the area.

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

While ear hematomas will sometimes drain, heal, and scar on their own, it is not recommended to wait and hope that's the case. Untreated hematomas can cause:

  • Pain caused by swelling and pressure that could last for weeks
  • Swollen ear flap that can prevent effective treatment of any infection that may be present
  • The process of ear hematomas in cats healing on their own could take a very long time
  • An extended healing time
  • Excessive scar tissue giving the ear a distorted appearance

If your cat is experiencing an ear hematoma, it is always best to have it examined by a vet. A veterinary professional will remedy the condition, likely through surgery, to decrease pain, speed up healing, and prevent this condition from recurring.

Diagnosing & Treating an Aural Hematoma

Your vet will closely examine your feline friend's ears for signs of mites or infections. These are common causes of hematoma aside from injury to the area, especially if your pet is more prone to infections. Your vet may take a sample of the hematoma to confirm the nature of the condition.

A simple surgical procedure is the most common method to remedy an aural hematoma. Aural hematoma surgery is a permanent solution for your pet's problem, and having hematomas surgically removed can reduce scarring.

If the hematoma on your cat's ear is relatively small or your pet isn't healthy enough for 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 as the issue is likely to return.

Your vet will also treat the underlying issue causing the hematoma (e.g. infection, allergy).

Aural Hematoma Surgery for Cats

This procedure consists of the veterinarian making a small incision in the ear flap to drain the blood pocket. Your vet will then 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 veterinary surgeon will bandage the ear.

Your cat's ear hematoma surgery costs will depend on the severity of your cat's condition. For an accurate estimate of what you can expect to pay, contact your veterinarian.

Cat Ear Hematoma Surgery Recovery

Your cat will likely have some amount of tenderness or discomfort for a few days following the procedure. Your vet will prescribe medications to address pain and prevent infection and inflammation.

Your cat will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from scratching the surgical site and causing inflammation, bleeding, pulled stitches, or infection.

Your vet will give you detailed instructions on how to administer at-home care for your feline friend as they are recovering from surgery. You and your cat will return for a follow-up visit to have the stitches removed and confirm that their recovery is on the right track.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Is your cat in need of specialty veterinary care? Contact our Bonita Springs vets or ask your vet about a referral to our animal hospital.

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