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Aural Hematoma in Cat: When is Surgery Needed

An aural hematoma, commonly referred to as an ear hematoma, can develop on your cat's ear as a blood blister. In this blog post, our vets in Jackson offer information on aural hematomas and discuss their treatment options.

What Is An Aural Hematoma?

An aural hematoma occurs when a cat's ear flap (pinna) accumulates a collection of blood, whether fresh or clotted. The cat's external ear consists of skin layers on both sides, with a layer of cartilage between them and blood vessels running just beneath the skin.

If the ear canal irritates, the cat scratches or shakes its head. Excessive or violent shaking can break one or more blood vessels, leading to bleeding into the space between the ear cartilage and the inner surface of the ear skin.

How Do I Identify An Aural Hematoma?

If your cat has an aural hematoma, you'll observe swelling in the ear flap. If the sore is localized to a specific area of the pinna, the swelling may be minimal.

However, in the case of larger hematomas, the entire ear flap will be affected, and the weight of the hematoma can cause the ear flap to droop.

When you touch an aural hematoma, you may feel it as either spongy or firm. Your cat is likely to be unhappy with you touching it, as the pressure can be painful.

What Causes An Aural Hematoma?

Most cats develop an aural hematoma due to an infection, allergy, or some other form of ear inflammation, leading to excessive scratching and head shaking.

In certain instances, a foreign material, like a tick or a piece of grass, may be lodged in the ear canal. It's also conceivable that a foreign body initially triggered the shaking but was subsequently dislodged.

Cats with a bleeding or clotting disorder are at a higher risk of developing an aural hematoma, whether or not there's a history of trauma.

How Is An Aural Hematoma Treated?

Your vet is likely to recommend a routine surgical procedure to address your cat's hematoma, offering a permanent and efficient solution while preventing scars.

In addition to performing aural hematoma surgery, it is crucial to address the underlying cause of the hematoma. If your cat has developed a hematoma due to an ear infection, it is also essential to treat the infection.

If the hematoma is mild or your cat cannot undergo anesthesia for surgery, your vet may drain the hematoma using a large needle. However, this is not ideal for caring for your cat's ear.

Without surgery, aural hematomas are prone to recurrence, with the possibility of reappearing within a few hours.

What Happens if You Leave a Cat Ear Hematoma Untreated

If you leave a cat's ear hematoma untreated, it can lead to several complications. A hematoma is a collection of blood outside blood vessels, and when it occurs in a cat's ear, it's often a result of trauma or injury. If left untreated, the blood that accumulates in the ear flap can cause the ear to become swollen, painful, and disfigured.

Over time, the untreated hematoma may lead to complications such as:

  • Inflammation and Pain
  • Infection Risk,
  • Ear Deformity
  • Chronic Ear Problem 
  • Secondary injuries
It's crucial to seek veterinary attention promptly if you suspect your cat has an ear hematoma for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

What Is The Recovery Process After Surgery?

After surgery, your cat may experience some soreness for a few days. However, if necessary, your veterinarian will provide medication and antibiotics to address pain and inflammation for your companion.

An Elizabethan collar is essential to prevent your cat from scratching its ear, reducing the risk of inflammation, bleeding, or prematurely removing sutures.

Most cats wear a head bandage to protect the ear and apply gentle pressure. Your vet will instruct you on monitoring and caring for your cat at home post-surgery and when to return for rechecks and suture removal.

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.

If you have concerns about your cat, please get in touch with our Jackson Animal Clinic vets today for a consultation.

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