Aural Hematoma in Cat: When Is Surgery Needed

Aural hematomas in cats can cause great discomfort and may require surgery to repair. In this post, our Tucson vets discuss aural hematomas in cats including the causes, signs, and treatment options.

A hematoma is a pocket of blood that forms within a tissue or organ, sometimes they are called a 'blood blister.' Its location and size can vary, but in the case of aural (ear) hematomas in cats, they appear between the skin and cartilage of your kitty's ear flap. They aren't seen in cats often, but that makes it all the more important for cat owners to know what to look for and what to do if their feline friend develops an ear hematoma.

The Causes of Cat Ear Hematomas

In most cases, the causes of ear hematomas in cats are related to trauma or injury. When damage occurs to the small blood vessels located in the cat's ear flap, they break and leak internally, resulting in a blood-filled swelling or pocket. Some common causes of ear hematomas in cats include:

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

Signs & Symptoms of Ear Hematomas in Cats

If your cat has an ear hematoma, the most common sign you will probably recognize is swelling of the ear. If it is large enough, the ear flap itself will become swollen and potentially make the ear flap 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! Other than changes in your cat's ear's appearance monitor their behavior. If their ear is irritated or delicate, they may groom the spot more often than usual or shy away from being touched.

Diagnosing & Treating Ear Hematomas in Cats

Your vet will examine your cat's ears for mites or infections as these are common causes of ear hematomas aside from injuries 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.

Treatments Available

The treatment method recommended most often for ear hematomas in cats is surgery. If the hematoma on your cat's ear is small or if your cat can't be put under anesthesia safely, 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 problem will likely 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 problem causing the hematoma (e.g. infection, allergy).

Cat Aural Hematoma Surgery

As part of the surgery, your veterinarian will make a small surgical incision in the ear flap to drain the blood pocket. Once cleared, your vet will use tiny sutures to close the pocket and prevent 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.

The cost of this surgery will depend on various factors, including your cat's specific case, where you are, and the vet you see. Ask your veterinarian for an estimate of the cost of your cat's aural hematoma surgery.

How Cats Recover From Aural Hematoma Surgery

Your cat might experience some tenderness or discomfort for several days after the procedure, but your vet will provide medications to address the pain and prevent infection and inflammation.

Your cat will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to keep 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 companion as they are recovering from surgery at home, as well as when to come back 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.

Is your cat showing signs of an aural hematoma? Contact our Tucson vets to have your kitty examined and treated.