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Aural Hematoma in Cats: When is Surgery Needed?

Blood blisters naturally occur after trauma and injury, in cats, this most frequently happens to the ears. Here, our Thornton vet team talks about the causes of aural hematomas in cats, what symptoms you may see, and how surgery can help to treat them.

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 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.

What Causes Aural Hematomas In Cats?

Trauma is the most common cause of aural hematomas in cats. 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 the ear canal
  • Scratches or bites (e.g. sharp thorns, fights with other cats)
  • Underlying health issues

Symptoms Of Aural Hematoma 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 appearance, keep an eye on its behavior. If their ear is irritated or tender, they may groom the spot more than usual or shy away from being touched.

Diagnosis & Treatment Of Aural Hematomas In Cats

Your veterinarian will closely examine your feline friend's ears for mites or infections. These are common causes of hematoma aside from the 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

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).

Aural Hematoma Surgery For Cats

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.

How to Care For Your Cat's Ears After Aural Hematoma Surgery

Your cat could feel some amount of tenderness or discomfort for a few days following the procedure, but 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. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Does your cat have a blood blister or other issue affecting their ears? Contact our Thornton vets today to schedule an examination.

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Caring Hands Veterinary Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about providing kind and loving veterinary care to Thornton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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