My cat’s ear flap is swollen and painful

Aural (ear) haematomas are large blood blisters that form between the skin and cartilage on the inner side of the ear. These blood blisters are collected residues of blood resulting from a rupture of a blood vessel in the ear. A cat may show signs of discomfort caused by the heavy flap, such as holding its ear outwards, and even tilting his or her head towards the affected side.
A blood vessel rupture is usually caused by vigorous scratching of the ears or shaking of the head, which is often due to an ear mite infestation or ear infection. Aural haematomas sometimes also occur after cat fights.
If a haematoma is left untreated, the blood in the ear flap will clot, and gradually be absorbed over a period of 10 days to 6 weeks. The pressure caused by the blood clot usually causes significant discomfort to a cat, and unfortunately some scarring will take place even as healing gradually occurs. Often, the ear flap becomes deformed – resulting in a “cauliflower ear”.

* This article is abstracted from The Sunday Times Pet Corner for the benefit of pet-owners who do not have access to the paper.

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