Sometimes our cats experience unexpected injuries that result in uncommon signs and symptoms. Today, our Nashville vets discuss aural hematomas in cats, what causes this condition and how it should be treated to avoid recurrence.
A hematoma is a pocket of blood that develops within an organ or tissue, sometimes called a 'blood blister.' It can vary in size and location, but in the case of aural (ear) hematomas, they appear between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap. They don't occur frequently in cats, but that makes it all the more important for pet parents to know what to look for and what to do if their cat develops an aural hematoma.
The Cause of Aural (Ear) Hematomas in Cats
Usually, the cause of aural hematoma is trauma- or injury-related. When damage occurs to the small blood vessels located in the cat's ear flap, they break and leak internally, creating a blood-filled swelling or pocket. Some common causes of cat aural hematomas include:
- Your kitty scratching their ears or shaking their heads due to:
- ear infection
- ear mites
- skin allergies
- foreign object in ear canal
- Scratches or bites (e.g. sharp thorns, fights with other cats)
- Underlying health issues
What Are The Symptoms of Aural Hematomas in Cats?
If your pet has an aural 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.
The swelling may feel tight or squishy to the touch, but be gentle – your cat probably will voice their discomfort if the spot is tender! Besides changes in your cat's ear's appearance, keep an eye on their behavior. If their ear is irritated or tender, they may groom the spot more than usual or shy away from being touched.
What is The Method of Diagnosis For Aural Hematomas?
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.
Treatment For Aural Hematomas
A simple surgical procedure is the most commonly recommended method to address the issue of aural 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).
Surgery For Cats With Aural Hematomas
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.
What To Expect During Recovery From Aural Hematoma Surgery
Your cat could feel some amount of tenderness or discomfort for a few days following the procedure. Still, 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.