While uncommon, your cat may experience injury to its ears that result in hematomas. Today, our Boulder and Westminster 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 known as a "blood blister," is a blood pocket that forms inside an organ or tissue. Aural (ear) hematomas develop between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap, though their size and location can vary. Cat ear hematomas don't happen often, but that just makes it more crucial for pet parents to know what to look for and what to do if their cat develops one.

Causes & Symptoms of Ear Hematomas in Cats

Cat ear hematomas are typically caused by trauma or injury to the area. As a cat's ear is damaged, the blood vessels rupture and leak into the surrounding area, filling it with blood and creating the hematoma. The most common causes of cat eat hematomas include: 

  • 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

Are ear hematomas an emergency?

Ear hematomas in cats are not typically considered emergencies, but they should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent complications and ensure proper treatment. If left untreated, ear hematomas can lead to scarring, infection, and discomfort for the cat.

Ear Hematoma Surgery for Cats

The most common and successful treatment for ear hematomas in cats is surgery. Ear hematoma surgery for cats is a procedure to drain fluid and blood that has accumulated in the ear flap due to trauma or infection.

When Ear Hematoma Surgery for Cats is Needed

Ear hematoma surgery for cats is typically needed when a hematoma is large, causing discomfort or affecting the cat's ability to hear. Surgery may also be necessary if other treatment options, such as draining the hematoma or medication, have been unsuccessful in resolving the issue.

Ear Hematoma Surgery Procedure

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.

The cost of surgery can vary depending on things like location and the severity of the condition. If your concerned about the cost of ear hematoma surgery for cats, ask your vet directly. They should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate.

The Recovery Process After Ear Hematoma Surgery

The recovery process after ear hematoma surgery typically involves wearing a protective cone to prevent scratching or rubbing the surgical site. Additionally, your veterinarian may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics to help manage discomfort and prevent infection during the healing process.

The recovery time for a cat after ear hematoma surgery typically ranges from 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the severity of the hematoma and the individual cat's healing process. It is important to follow post-operative care instructions provided by the veterinarian to ensure a smooth and successful recovery.

During recovery, it is important to keep the incision site clean and monitor for any signs of infection. You can do this by gently cleaning the area with a damp cloth and keeping an eye out for any redness, swelling, or discharge.

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.

Does your cat have a hematoma on its ear? Contact our Boulder and Westminster vets today. We may be able to schedule an emergency surgery for your cat.