Cat allergy symptoms can result in any number of health issues.
Ear hematomas are by far the most costly because they require surgery to correct.
Ear hematomas, also known as auricular or aural hematomas, occur when blood and fluid accumulate in the pinna, or flap, of the ear.
Cats’ external ears have a layer of skin on either side of a layer of cartilage, with blood vessels just under the skin.
When something irritates or causes pain to a cat’s ear, kitty responds by scratching or shaking its head.
If kitty scratches or shakes its head hard enough, a blood vessel may rupture, causing the space between the skin and the cartilage to fill with blood and fluid.
Filling of the space between skin and cartilage causes the surface of the ear to swell, creating a painful condition for your cat.
The pain will eventually subside, but the swelling will continue and the ear may become permanently disfigured if not treated.
While there are a variety of treatment options for hematomas, recurrence rates are very high and surgery is the most effective and widely used treatment.
After surgery, identify and correct the underlying cause of the hematoma (whatever caused your cat to scratch its ear or shake its head in the first place).
Since you’ll have to get to the root of the problem anyway, it’s best to know what to look for in advance so you can help your cat avoid developing an ear hematoma altogether.
3 Primary Causes of Aural Hematomas in Cats
Ear mites, allergies, and ear infections are the three main causes of aural hematomas.
Ear mites are the most common affliction leading to ear hematomas in cats.
Ear mites are highly contagious parasites.
Ear mites feed on the wax and oils in a cat’s ear canal.
Ear mites pass through casual contact, causing irritation, inflammation, and infection of the internal and external ear canal.
Cats with ear mites experience these symptoms:
- Excessive scratching or rubbing of ears
- Head shaking
- Hair loss
- Black or brown waxy secretion
- Strong odor coming from the ears
- Inflammation of ears
- Obstruction of ear canal with coffee ground-like debris
- Scabs near the ear
Your veterinarian may clean your cats’ ears and prescribe medicine such as ear drops with antibiotics to eradicate the ear mites.
Cats may develop allergies to any number of substances at any point in their lives.
The immune systems of cats with allergies are often overly sensitive to fleas, food, or airborne or contact substances.
Food allergies in particular may cause your cat to scratch its head or neck.
Feline allergies are difficult to identify and treat, especially since they can change throughout a cat’s life.
If you suspect your cat has allergies, visit your veterinarian for a complete history and physical examination.
Your vet may recommend intradermal skin or blood testing, or a prescription or hydrolyzed protein diet for food allergies.
If your cat has allergies, you should try to minimize exposure to suspected allergens as much as possible; use stainless steel or glass dishes for food and water; brush your cat regularly; and use flea prevention.
Your veterinarian may also recommend a supplement containing fatty acids.
Ear infections in cats are almost always a secondary condition.
In fact, ear mites and allergies may lead to ear infections before a hematoma develops.
Other causes may include the overgrowth of yeast or bacteria; thick hair, wax buildup, tumors or polyps in the ear canal; autoimmune disease; improper cleaning; foreign objects becoming lodged in the ear; or ruptured eardrums.
If your cat develops an ear infection, he may shake his head or scratch his ears; lose hair or develop scabs around his face, ears and neck; or tilt his head to the side of the infected ear.
You may also notice an unpleasant odor or discharge coming from your cat’s ear.
Your veterinarian will examine your cat’s ears with an otoscope to look for redness, inflammation, discharge, masses or polyps, foreign bodies and other abnormalities.
If your cat has an ear infection, the veterinarian will likely prescribe specific medication for the condition.
Any time you notice your cat scratching his ears or shaking his head excessively, see your veterinarian right away to determine the cause.
By treating ear mites, allergies and ear infections early, you can increase your cat’s chance of avoiding the dreaded ear hematoma!
You can successfully manage your cat’s allergies.
Download our free eBook, Cat Allergies 101: How to Stop the Itching, Scratching and Throwing Up, and get relief for your pet today.