While uncommon, your cat may experience ear injury that results in hematomas. Today, our La Pine vets discuss ear hematomas in cats and everything you need to know about surgery to treat this condition.
Ear Hematomas in Cats
A hematoma, also referred to as a "blood blister," is a pocket of blood that forms inside an organ or tissue. Aural hematomas in cats occur between the skin and cartilage of the ear flap, and their size and location can differ. Although cat ear hematomas are rare, it is essential for pet owners to understand the symptoms and appropriate actions to take if their cat develops one.
Causes & Symptoms of Ear Hematomas in Cats
Cat ear hematomas usually occur due to damage or injury to the area. When a cat's ear is injured, the blood vessels can rupture and cause blood to leak into the surrounding area, resulting in a hematoma. The most frequent causes of cat ear hematomas are:
- 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
Typically, identifying ear hematomas in cats is a simple process that involves your veterinarian visually inspecting or feeling the cat's ears. If there is an infection present, it may be easier to detect.
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
If your pet has an ear hematoma, surgery is usually the best way to address the issue. However, if your pet cannot be sedated or the hematoma is small, your veterinarian may choose to drain it instead. While this method can clear up the hematoma, it is not a permanent solution, as the condition will likely reoccur. Ear hematoma surgery, on the other hand, is a permanent solution that can prevent excessive scarring and ensure that your pet's problem is resolved for good.
During treatment, your vet will also treat any underlying cause of the hematoma to prevent the situation from reoccurring.
Ear Hematoma Surgery for Cats
The 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:
- 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 builds 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
It is not recommended to let ear hematomas heal and scar on their own. Although they may eventually drain, certain complications may arise if left untreated.
- 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 it will leave excess scar tissue.
If your cat has an ear hematoma, it's recommended to take them to the vet for examination and treatment through surgery. This will help reduce pain, speed up the healing process, and prevent future occurrences. It's best to discuss the cost of the surgery directly with your vet, as they can provide a more accurate estimate.