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Ear Flap Problems in Cats

Swollen Pinna continued...

A hematoma is a blood clot under the skin of the pinna. It, too, can be caused by trauma or by violent head shaking and scratching at the ear. Look for an itchy ear disorder, such as ear mites, or an infection involving the ear canal-which should be treated along with the hematoma.

Treatment: Blood should be expressed from a hematoma by a veterinarian, to prevent scarring and deformity of the ear when the clot retracts. Removing it with a needle and syringe usually is not effective, because serum accumulates in the pocket formerly occupied by the blood clot and the pocket fills again. Surgery, the treatment of choice, involves removing a window of skin to provide open and continuous drainage. A drain may be placed through the area. Sutures are then made through both sides of the ear to pull the skin down and eliminate the pocket. Expect your cat to need to wear a BiteNot collar or an Elizabethan collar to prevent her from pawing at the ear.

Ear Allergies

Allergies are typified by itching and skin redness without drainage. Both food allergies and atopy (inhaled allergies) may first present as an otitis. They can affect the skin of the ear canals as well as the pinna. An allergic ear problem can closely resemble a yeast infection or may have a yeast infection secondary to an allergy, so check with your veterinarian before applying any medication at home.

Treatment: An allergic reaction is best treated with a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream, such as Cortaid. Because of the intense itching, the cat may traumatize her ears and set the stage for a secondary bacterial infection.


Head mange is caused by the head mite called Notoedres cati, which lives on the skin about the head and ears of cats. Itching is the predominant sign. Clean ear canals help distinguish this condition from an ear mite infection caused by Otodectes cynotis.

Fleas frequently feed on the skin of the pinna. You may be able to see the actual fleas on the ears or elsewhere on the body, or you may see only black, crumbly crusts of dried blood.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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