Ear hematomas caused by injuries are a relatively rare occurrence in cats but they do happen. In today's post, our Winston-Salem veterinarians discuss ear hematomas in cats and the surgery used to treat this condition.
What is the lump on my cat's ear?
A hematoma is a pocket of blood that develops within an organ or tissue, sometimes referred to as 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 ear hematoma.
Causes & Signs of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Trauma or injury to the ear are the most usual cause of aural hematomas in cats. As a cat's ear is damaged the blood vessels rupture and leak into the surrounding area filling it with blood, creating the hematoma. The most common causes of cat eat hematomas include:
- 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
Diagnosing Ear Hematomas in Cats
Veterinarians diagnose cau aural hematomas by simply examining the appearance and health of your cat's ears, looking for swelling or signs of infection. If your vet is still unsure after a physical examination they may take a blood sample in order to determine the cause and confirm the hematoma.
Treatment for Cats With Ear Hematomas
Surgery is generally required to treat cat ear hematomas. For pets that are unable to undergo anesthesia or if the hematoma is quite small then your vet may opt to drain it instead. This method will work to clear up the hematoma but is not a permanent solution as the condition is likely to present itself again. Ear hematoma surgery is a permanent solution for your pet's problem, and surgery will prevent excessive scarring from occurring.
During treatment, your vet will also treat any underlying cause of the hematoma in order to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
Surgery for Cat Ear HematomasThe most common and successful treatment for ear hematomas in cats is ear hematoma surgery. While the process itself may vary depending on the situation and veterinary surgeon there will always be standard steps in the process. These are:
- Your cat's veterinary surgeon will make a small incision at each end of the hematoma and remove the blood from the pinna. A drainage tube will be placed in the hematoma and sutured in place to continue draining any fluids that build up or the vet may opt to completely open the area to prevent a build-up of blood and fluids.
- Then the 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 recovery process.
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.
Ear Hematomas Left Untreated
While ear hematomas will sometimes drain, heal and scar on their own however this is not recommended. Untreated hematomas can lead to the following:
- 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 greatly extended healing time.
- Excessive scar tissue giving the ear a distorted appearance.
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 reoccurring.
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.