Appetite Loss is the Greater Concern

Question:
My cat has an ear hematoma. It was first drained and then injected with steroids. Her veterinarian also gave her ear drops for a yeast infection and an injection of antibiotics. This has been going on for about a week and now she’s not eating. I’m afraid I might lose her.

Dr. Nichol:
Your kitty’s appetite loss is a serious red flag; a dangerous series of physical events can be set in motion by a failure to eat, especially worrisome for cats who are overweight or obese. The end result can be terminal liver failure.

That corticosteroid injection may or may not have been responsible. An already brewing internal disorder could already have been near its tipping point, needing only a small push to unleash a crisis. Your cat should be examined on an emergency basis today.

A swollen ear flap, on the other hand, is not by itself terribly significant but it does signal a problem in that neighborhood of the body. When it’s filled with blood we call it a hematoma. Vaguely resembling a sopapilla, “aural” hematomas are usually painless. Surgical correction will prevent it from resembling a crumpled wad of paper.  The greater concern is identifying and treating the cause of the scratching or head shaking that may have caused those blood vessels inside your cat’s ear flap to leak in the first place.

Inflammatory problems in the ear canals of pets often result from yeast or bacterial infections but ticks, ear mites, and foxtail (grass) awns can also be to blame. Pet owners need to be observant in order to recognize the early signs. Cats and dogs speak different languages than we do. A pet shaking its head is not being contrary. She’s actually saying, “Take me to the doctor.

Beware of other causes of abnormal bleeding, whether into an ear flap, internally, or from the nose or mouth: Rat and mouse poisons interfere with normal blood clotting. Cats and dogs may be attracted by the taste of these potent toxins but keeping rodent baits out of their reach is false security. A pet who catches and eats an already poisoned, slow, and dying varmint can suffer internal hemorrhage and death. Bleeding requires immediate medical attention.