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Aural Hematomas in Cats

If your cat has an ear hematoma you might wonder how to help. Today, our Pleasant Hill vet team shares more about what causes aural hematomas in cats, symptoms, and treatment options. 

A hematoma is a pocket of blood that forms within an organ or tissue and is also known as a 'blood blister.' Aural (ear) hematomas appear between the skin and cartilage of your cat's ear flap and can vary in size and location. They are uncommon in cats, but that makes it even more important for pet parents to understand what to look for and what to do if their cat develops an ear hematoma.

What causes ear hematomas in cats? 

The most common cause of ear hematoma is trauma or injury. When the small blood vessels in the cat's ear flap are damaged, they break and leak internally, resulting in a blood-filled swelling or pocket. Some of the most common causes of cat ear hematomas are:

  • 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 

Signs of ear hematomas in cats

If your pet has an ear hematoma, the most common sign is likely to be swelling in the ear. If it is large enough, the ear flap itself will be swollen and possibly cause the ear flap to droop under its weight. 

The swelling may feel tight or squishy to the touch, but be gentle - if the spot is tender, your cat will most likely express their displeasure! Aside from changes in appearance, keep an eye on your cat's behavior. If their ear is irritated or tender, they may groom the area more frequently than usual or avoid being touched.

Diagnosis & treatment of ear hematomas in cats

Aside from the injury to the area, your vet will examine your cat's ears for mites or infections, as these are common causes of hematomas, especially if your pet is prone to infections. Depending on the circumstances, your veterinarian may take a sample with a needle to confirm the nature of the condition.


Surgery is the most commonly recommended treatment for ear hematomas. If the hematoma on your cat's ear is small or your pet cannot be safely sedated, your vet may be able to drain the site with a needle. While this procedure is appropriate for some hematomas, it is not ideal, and the problem is likely to reoccur. Aural hematoma surgery is a permanent solution to your pet's problem, and surgical removal of hematomas can reduce scarring.

Your vet will also treat the underlying issue causing the hematoma (e.g. infection, allergy). 

Aural hematoma surgery for cats

The veterinarian will make a small surgical incision in the ear flap to drain the blood pocket. Once cleared, your veterinarian will use tiny sutures to close the pocket and prevent further blood or infection buildup. The vet or vet surgeon will bandage the ear to prevent blood from accumulating there. Contact your veterinarian directly for an estimate of the cost of cat aural hematoma surgery.

What happens if you leave a cat's ear hematoma untreated?

Left untreated, an ear hematoma will eventually heal on its own, but your cat will be uncomfortable for weeks. Both sides of the ear will often form thick, wrinkled scar tissue, so the ear won’t look or feel natural.

Recovery from aural hematoma surgery 

After ear hematoma surgery, your cat may experience some tenderness or discomfort for a few days, 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. 

Your vet will give you instructions and helpful advice on how to care for your feline friend at home while they recover from surgery, as well as when to return for follow-up visits and to have the stitches removed.

Does your cat have a hematoma on its ear? Contact us today to help your beloved pet feel better with our compassionate expert veterinary care. 

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Diablo View Veterinary Medical Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced veterinarians are passionate about the health of Pleasant Hill companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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