Have you noticed a blister or lesion on your cat's ear? This might not just be a regular cut that will go away on its own. In this post, our Novato vets discuss aural hematomas in cats, what they are, and when surgery is needed to treat them.
What Is An Aural Hematoma?
An aural hematoma is when the cartilage and skin of your cat's ear is blistered and/or cut.
They are often caused by self-inflicted trauma due to your cat excessively scratching at their ears, but other injuries or trauma to the ear can cause a hematoma as well. The trauma to the ear causes the small blood vessels in the pinna (the ear flap) to break and leak internally causing blood-filled swelling.
This condition is common in cats who frequently suffer from ear infection or irritation, which leads them to scratch at their ears more.
What Does A Hematoma Look Like?
With an ear hematoma, your cat’s ear flap will be swollen. In severe cases, the whole ear flap may be affected and the weight of the blood may cause the ear flap to droop or hang lower than it usually does.
Hematomas can feel firm or squishy to the touch depending on their size and location. They are often painful and your cat will probably not want to have its ear touched.
Cat Ear Hematoma Surgery
The best way to treat a hematoma is through a surgical procedure that has two goals: to drain the hematoma and then prevent it from forming again. There are a few different techniques a veterinarian will use based on their personal preference, but the overview of the surgery is the same.
To begin, the hematoma will be surgically drained and any blood clots will be removed. Next, the vet will remove the empty or "dead" space in your cat's ear flap that was filling with blood. This is done by putting numerous sutures through the ear to promote scar tissue formation and reattach the cartilage to the skin.
Cat Ear Hematoma Surgery Recovery
The healing time for hematoma removal is about two weeks.
While your cat may be sore for the first few days following surgery, your vet will give you pet-friendly medications and inflammation medicine to help. They will also provide antibiotics if needed.
Your cat may have a drainage tube placed in its ear following surgery to help with healing. This will be removed by your vet 3 - 14 days following the procedure. They will also likely be given an e-collar or Elizabethan collar to prevent them from scratching at their ears while they heal.
Be sure to follow your vet's instructions on proper home care and monitor your cat's ear for signs of infection, such as could smelling discharge or swelling that doesn't appear to be going down.
Preventing Further Hematomas
To prevent further hematomas from forming, the underlying cause of your cat's ear irritation must be treated. Without treating the underlying cause, your cat is likely to resume scratching and pawing at its ears and risk further complications.
Be sure to follow up with your veterinarian so they can perform the appropriate diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of your cat's ear condition.
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.