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What is Ear Hematoma?

The visible outer area of the ear that is affected by a hematoma plays an important role in hearing function. It collects sound waves, concentrates them, and funnels into the middle and inner ear. While it is possible that an ear hematoma can resolve on its own, the condition causes significant discomfort and takes a minimum of several weeks to heal. If you notice that your cat is displaying possible symptoms, a prompt visit to the vet is warranted.

Ear hematoma, also called aural hematoma or auricular hematoma, is a common ear problem in cats. It is a painful condition that results when a blood vessel ruptures and blood and fluid fill the area between the skin and cartilage in the ear. A moderate to severe swelling of the ear can occur within minutes of rupture. If not treated promptly, the condition can result in permanent deformity.

Ear Hematoma Average Cost

From 519 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Ear Hematoma in Cats

The primary symptom of ear hematoma is a swelling of the outer area of the ear. This can range from a slight bulge to an extreme swelling that resembles a balloon. The condition typically occurs on only one ear. The cat will likely display signs of pain, exhibit scratching and head shaking, and may tilt the head to one side.

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Causes of Ear Hematoma in Cats

Ear hematomas are almost always preceded by another medical condition. The most common causes are:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Ear mites 
  • Chronic allergies
  • Immune disorder
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Blunt trauma to skull
  • Deep wounds (most often resulting from fights with other cats)
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Diagnosis of Ear Hematoma in Cats

Ear hematoma in cats is easy to diagnose with a physical examination. Discovering and properly treating the underlying cause is necessary to avoid recurrence.

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Treatment of Ear Hematoma in Cats

It is recommended that you seek veterinary attention for ear hematomas as soon as possible. Small hematomas often grow in size, and the larger the hematoma, the longer it will take to heal. Treating the condition quickly will result in a better chance for full recovery. 

The pain caused by an ear hematoma will likely subside in a few days. If left untreated the ear will eventually reabsorb the fluid, and the condition will resolve itself. However, this is not recommended. The affected area will continue to be swollen and scar tissue will develop, leaving behind an unsightly condition that is referred to as “cauliflower ear.” 

There are several treatment options available. Your veterinarian will decide which is right depending on the size of the hematoma, the length of time the ear has been affected, and his or her personal preference.

Surgery with Sutures

Surgery with sutures is the most common treatment for ear hematoma in cats. The cat is placed under anesthesia and a small cut is made to the underside of the ear. The fluid is allowed to drain out and multiple sutures are placed in the affected area. This not only treats the hematoma but also helps to prevent reoccurrence. The ear may or may not be bandaged after surgery. Stitches are removed in 2-3 weeks and as long as the underlying condition has been properly treated the animal has a good chance at full recovery. 

Surgery Without Sutures

This method is very similar to the one above, with the exception of the use of sutures. After the ear has drained it is taped over a rolled bandage and left to heal. Owners will be required to be more vigilant with aftercare due to the fact that the wound has not been closed. This option is commonly used on show cats as there is less of a chance of ear deformity following treatment.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Your veterinarian may choose this option if the hematoma is very small. A needle is inserted into the affected area to remove the fluid and a drainage tube may be inserted. This method is less effective and leaves a greater chance that the hematoma will reoccur. It is usually only recommended for animals that can’t tolerate general anesthesia.

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Recovery of Ear Hematoma in Cats

Following surgery, cats will likely be provided with pain control medications. Tranquilizers may also be used to keep the animal calm. A cone-shaped Elizabethan collar, or “e-collar”, may be placed over the head to avoid scratching or irritating the surgical site. This should be kept on until the wound is completely healed. Bandages must be kept clean and dry, and a trip to the vet may be necessary if the bandage gets wet or is otherwise damaged. Follow-up visits are needed to ensure that the condition is healing properly and that the underlying cause has been eliminated. Full recovery typically occurs in two to three weeks. If ear scratching or head shaking reoccurs, a return visit to the veterinarian will be necessary to address the underlying cause.

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Ear Hematoma Average Cost

From 519 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Ear Hematoma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Pumpkin

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Long hair orange tabby

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling

My cat has a hematoma on his right ear and holds his ear down. Just happened today. He is also known for scratching his ears and picking fights with his cat sister. Can I treat this at home?

Aug. 17, 2018

Pumpkin's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Some aural haematomas may self resolve since with time the haematoma will be broken down by the body and resorbed, however some cases may need surgical correction since a cat may paw too much at the ear causing secondary issues or may head shake as well. Regardless, it is best to see your Veterinarian first and then see from there. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 17, 2018

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Lucky

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DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Ear Keeps Refilling Fluid

about three weeks ago we took Lucky to the vet. They said he had Hematoma they put a shunt in to drain the ear. However, it keeps filling with blood. The vet said keep the hole open (scab keeps closing it) can I keep draining it myself or take back to the vet. and how can I keep it properly its hard to remove scab. I try warm cloth but

Aug. 4, 2018

Lucky's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Sometimes the drain holes do scab up and they can be difficult to remove, a warm damp cloth like you’re using is best but you may need to hold it there for a minute or two to help loosen the scab for removal. You should return to your Veterinarian if you’re having further issues to discuss what else can be done in the meantime especially if there is no decrease in swelling. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 5, 2018

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Goldie

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domestic short hair

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Eight Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Ears

Goldie eats well, grooms and is seemingly healthy. She is a rescue, 4 lbs. she is very sensitive to environmental pollution. Allergic to scented litter. After treatment for ear mites with tresaderm her ears wilted at the tips. They got more normal until a week ago when house cleaners used pine sol on floor. Then her ears began to wilt at the tips again. She doesn’t scratch her ears and there is no swelling or redness. Should I wait longer or should I take her to the vet?

Aug. 2, 2018

Goldie's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If Goldie is not bothering with her ears and seems comfortable, you may be fine to monitor her. If she is scratching at them or seems uncomfortable, she may need to be seen by a veterinarian to get treatment for her ears.

Aug. 2, 2018

Thank you. She seems to be feeling so well. I will continue to monitor.

Aug. 2, 2018

Goldie's Owner

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Tiger

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mixed

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Hematoma

My cat got a hematoma from an ear infection and my vet recommended to drain it because it was small and my cat received surgery a month ago, so it is risky to put him under. The hematoma returned and got worse, it is covering his ear canal and he keeps shaking and scratching it, is there anything I can do to reduce the shaking and scratching and help with the pain other then surgery? How long does it take for the hematoma to heal on its own or will it get worse and never heal and turn into a serious problem? I am aware of the cauliflower ear and the extra care it requires to avoid reoccurring ear infections, and do not mind the extra work.

July 30, 2018

Tiger's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Hematomas do eventually heal, and Tiget may just need medication to prevent infection in his ear canal, as well as pain medication until the hematoma starts to get smaller. Without a repeat surgery, one would expect the hematoma to become smaller over a few weeks.

July 30, 2018

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Miska

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Ragdoll

dog-age-icon

13 Years

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Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Head Shaking
Ear Swelling
Scratching

Our 13-year-old cat has had an haematoma in his left ear for about two weeks, it came most likely from him having ear mites of which we have gotten rid of with medications from the vet. We have gotten it drained for two times but it has filled up to be huge again. We are a bit reluctant to opt for surgery since he's a fairly old cat and there's a chance he might not wake up from it. Is it really safe to just let the ear drain by itself? I don't care about cosmetic defects, I just want my baby to not be in pain longer.

July 16, 2018

Miska's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Hematomas usually do resolve over time, by themselves. It can just take time. He may need ongoing pain medication until the hematoma starts to resolve, but it should eventually go away. His ear will be scarred, but if that is not important to you, he will be comfortable.

July 16, 2018

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Suzy

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short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Aural Hematoma

My cat Suzy was a feral and I helped a "no kill" shelter catch her and bring her in. She was brought in and when I checked in on her they were not working with her at all and said she's too timid so she was deemed unadoptable. I took her home because there is no reason to put a cat down because they are timid. She is a very scared cat where she pees and poops if she feels cornered. She developed an aural hematoma and there was no way she was getting into a vet and allowing me to make sure there was no infection afterwards. I would trap her daily and she had a small cut in it where it was creased over so when I lifted and held there, the ear would drain itself and I used diluted iodine to keep it clean. I also have 3 other cats and I use ear drops for ear mites because one is prone to them and another is prone to yeast infections in her ear. Now Suzy has cauliflower ear but since she is so timid I cannot sit there and clean her ear. Is there ear drops that would clean out with her shaking her head since she won't let me clean it?

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Spartacus

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Head Shaking
Swollen Ear
Drooping Ear

I've recently noticed that my cat's ear was starting to droop down a little bit. When I checked his drooping ear, I found that it was very swollen. While he does shake his head, it's not very common and doesn't happen much. After looking up some symptoms, I'm not sure what could've caused it. He doesn't seem to have any ear infections or ear mites. I wonder what caused it?

dog-name-icon

Aladdin

dog-breed-icon

DOMESTIC

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Ear Itching

My cat currently has a very large hematoma on one of his ears. The ear is almost swollen shut! The vet did not recommend surgery or drain it. She did put him on antibiotics for an infection and am also giving him ear drops. Not sure if this is because he's older (13 years) or because he has diabetes. He still seems like he is in a lot of pain. Any suggestions? Wondering if I should get a second opinion . Our vet has been great so far, but I feel so bad for him.

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Felix

dog-breed-icon

White idiot

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Ear Itching
Lump
Discomfort

I noticed my cat had developed a hematoma the previous night, I thought it was a pus filled cyst at the time. In the morning I immediately took him to the vet, the vet was very nice and worried about Felix’s discomfort. Ordered an ear cleaning and antibiotics, steroids, and pain meds (Felix has always had problems with ear infections). However the vet recommended that since Felix wasn’t a show cat there would be no need for surgery and that surgery would make it more likely for this to happen again, he obviously recommend to take him home with the medicine and keep him comfortable till the fluid is reabsorbed. Reading this article made me wonder if I’m doing the right thing for my fur baby or if I got over charged for quack advice.

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Cheddar

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Puffy Ear, Shaking Head

One night I noticed my cat's left ear flap was all puffy like a pillow. This was my first experience with a hematoma even though I've had dozens of cats over the years. She had surgery and is doing ok, but she got the bandage and collar off in about 3 seconds after getting home!

Ear Hematoma Average Cost

From 519 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250