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Dr. Scarlett
Dr. Scarlett, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 4110
Experience:  I am a practicing small animal veterinarian with 18 years experience.
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My cats ear has swollen up like a balloon. It is hot and obviously

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My cat's ear has swollen up like a balloon. It is hot and obviously painful. Help !
Is it the ear flap itself that is swollen? Has your cat been scratching at it? How old is your cat?
Dr. Scarlett
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Yes it is the ear flap itself. Looks and feels hot and at bursting point. Have had cats all my life and have never seen this before.
It sounds like your cat has an aural hematoma--basically a big pocket of blood and fluid in the ear flap. This generally occurs due to excessive scratching at the ear or a hard blow to the ear. It is fairly common in floppy eared dogs with ear infections. I have seen it in cats, however, generally when they have a severe ear mite infestation.

This is very painful to the cat, as you can imagine. The fluid needs to be drained off and often a minor surgery done to the ear to keep the fluid from accumulating again. You will need to take your cat to the vet and I'd recommend doing it today, rather than waiting until Monday.

Some vets will make an incision the length of the ear or pocket, drain out the fluid, then suture the ear flap through both sides along the incision--basically tacking the ear flap back down to prevent further fluid accumulation and leaving the incision open to allow further drainage. There will be some scarring, but most cat ears will stay pricked if the surgery goes well.

Another option is the insertion of a "teat canula". This is a small tube (originally used in cow teats) that will allow drainage of the ear and only requires the stitch to keep it in place. Cosmetically I think the ear can do a little better, but it isn't always an option in the upright cat ear. Works great for floppy eared dogs, however!

Some vets will have variations on these surgeries. In some cases (usually when the pocket is pretty small) I have just used a needle/syringe to remove the fluid, then injected some steroid to help with inflammation. The fluid may need to be drained several times, but the ear seems to heal pretty well.

The main thing is to find out why the little capillaries in the ear ruptured and started to bleed and to treat that problem. If you don't do anything, the fluid will eventuallly be reabsorbed, but the ear will scar down and can cover up the opening of the ear canal, which will cause more problems down the line.

Hope that helps!
Dr. Scarlett
Dr. Scarlett and other Cat Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I really can't afford the vet. Have worked for a vet years ago. Is there anything I can do aat home to help my cat. He's a rescue, about 12 years old.
If you have a sterile syringe you can try to drain the fluid off by yourself. It will fill back up again, but you can keep draining it if your cat will let you. But if it keeps filling back up he really should be seen by a vet. And also to get any ear infection treated.
Dr. Scarlett
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