A tumor in a cat’s ear – what types of tumors can appear in pets?



If a cat has a lump behind the ear, the first question the veterinarian asks the owner is whether the pet is walking outside. Because in most cases, tumors on the head appear due to injuries received in fights.

The peak of “incidence” occurs at the beginning of spring, when males stage desperate battles for cats. However, there are other reasons for lumps behind the ear. Let's look at the most common ones.

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Hematoma on the inner surface of the ear
A hematoma is a cavity filled with blood. The auricle is devoid of fatty tissue and poor in muscle, so the contents of damaged vessels lead to the formation of a cavity between the cartilage and the skin.

There are combat hematomas, which pets get during fights, and pathological ones, caused by a blood clotting disorder. Predisposing factors are old age and accompanying chronic illnesses. Another reason is systemic hematopoietic diseases. In this case, hematomas occur as a result of scratching due to itching due to flea bites, diabetes, and allergic reactions. Fragile vessels are destroyed when scratched, and blood flows under the skin.

The skin at the site of the formed lump is first red and hot, then darkens and cools. If the pathological cavity is small and does not cause inconvenience, it slowly resolves. When the swollen ear droops, the head tilts towards the damaged shell. The animal tries to scratch the bump and shakes its head.

The diagnosis is made by clinical examination. If there is a suspicion of the secondary nature of the pathological condition, a biochemical blood test is performed. If an underlying disease is detected, it is treated. Conservative treatment of the hematoma itself is ineffective. Surgical treatment consists of opening the cavity, removing the contents and sanitizing with antiseptic solutions.

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The operation is performed under general anesthesia. To prevent the formation of rough scars, a method with a hemostatic sponge is used. While the wound is healing, an Elizabethan collar is put on the pet.

Types and reasons

The appearance of a lump on a cat’s neck under the skin, abdomen, head or paws may be associated with a malignant or benign neoplasm. The main reasons for the appearance of balls under the skin of a pet are:

  1. Abscess. A purulent formation that occurs as a result of a pet being bitten by another animal. As a result of a specific reaction of the body, leukocytes are sent to the site of damage to further combat pathogenic microflora. As a result, pus is formed, containing dead bacterial microorganisms along with dead leukocytes. An abscess can be large and located in a variety of places on the body. Thus, the appearance of a lump on a cat’s neck caused by an abscess leads to painful sensations in the animal, and there is a significant increase in body temperature in the affected area. Hair loss may also occur at the site of the injury.
  2. Skin cancer. Not all malignant skin tumors lead to the appearance of bumps on the cat’s stomach or other parts of the body. But some types of cancer, such as melanoma, sarcoma, sebaceous tumor, mastocytoma or basal cell carcinoma, can cause lumps to appear under the skin.
  3. Contact type dermatitis. A disease that occurs as a result of pet contact with potential allergens - household chemicals, hazardous chemicals or poisonous plants.
  4. Acne. Having felt a ball under the skin of a cat’s neck, the owner may be very afraid for the health of his pet. But it may just be acne, which is a pimple that forms in the chin and neck area, as well as the tail. The development of pathology is associated with blockage of the sebaceous glands. There are cat breeds that have a genetic predisposition to the disease.
  5. Hematoma. As a result of damage and injury, a hematoma (subcutaneous hemorrhage) may form under the cat’s skin. Hematomas are most often diagnosed on the hind legs (results of jumping from a height), the head (after fights with other cats).
  6. Injection granuloma. A lump that appears in the neck area at the injection site may be a granuloma. This pathological change occurs quite often after vaccination of cats. The bumps are capable of self-resorption and go away on their own without medical help a few days after the injection. But in some cases, the lump under the skin may grow and in this case it is important to consult a veterinarian.
  7. Wen. A lipoma, or in other words a wen, is a benign neoplasm that occurs as a result of pathological changes in adipose tissue. The appearance of lipomas is observed, as a rule, in animals after 7 years of age.
  8. Eosinophilic granuloma. Damage of an inflammatory nature, more often occurring on the upper lip than on the lower lip and other parts of the muzzle. Eosinophilic granuloma appears as an ulcerative lesion, and the causes are still not clearly defined.
  9. Mastitis. Lumps on a cat's nipples, which occur more often in cats that have not been sterilized, are called mastitis. The occurrence of mastitis has also been noted in cats during active lactation. The pathology is characterized by an inflammatory process in the mammary glands, leading to discomfort in the animal and an increase in body temperature to high levels. Without the intervention of a veterinary specialist, coping with the disease is quite problematic.
  10. Tumors of the mammary glands. New growths of the mammary glands look like multiple nodules localized on milk bags, closer to the groin area. Breast cancer is characterized by the appearance of nodular neoplasms on milk bags, hot to the touch, over time acquiring a red tint, and begin to bleed. In addition, purulent exudate may be released from the nipples, which indicates the last stages of cancer.


The cause of suppuration is dirt brought in by an opponent during a fight due to weakened immunity. Most often, the lump forms behind the ear or directly under it, where the soft tissue is located.

In most cases, the abscess breaks out on its own, the pus flows out and a scar forms. The wound can be treated with an antiseptic wound-healing spray, but not with iodine tincture or brilliant green solution, which burn. If the cat is lethargic, refuses to eat, the abscess does not break out, or increases in size, seek veterinary help.

The main reasons for the appearance of a lump behind a cat's ear

The most common reason is cat fights.

With the onset of spring, many cats get into fights to attract the attention of the opposite sex or to establish the boundaries of their territory. As a result, combatants have lacerated ears, claw wounds, and swelling on the face or ears.

If your pet does not walk outside, diseases can lead to tumors behind the ears. Among them are both dangerous and easily treatable.


Translated from Latin, it literally means “abscess.” This is an inflammatory disease in which a cavity is formed filled with purulent contents. The formation of a lump leads to the development of a deep abscess. In this case, muscle tissue and subcutaneous fat are affected. Among the main signs of the disease are:

  1. Redness . Its appearance indicates that an inflammatory process has begun in the animal’s body.
  2. Edema . The lesion begins to rise above the surface of the skin and increases in size.
  3. Fluctuation (filling with pus) . This stage is characterized by the presence of purulent contents. On palpation, it flows from one edge of the cavity to the other.

Consequences. With good immunity in the mustachioed-striped, the disease most often ends in an outpouring of pus. In more severe cases, gangrene or phlegmon may begin to develop.

Therapy. All treatment boils down to opening the abscess and removing the pus. In more severe cases, surgical excision of necrotic tissue is performed. After opening, the abscess is washed with antiseptic solutions, drainage is installed in the wound and stitches are applied. Subsequent treatment is with antibiotics and continues for a week.


It can be either an independent disease or a complication of an abscess or carbuncle. Most often caused by Staphylococcus aureus and characterized by putrefactive or purulent inflammation of fatty tissue. The difference between phlegmon and other inflammatory processes is the absence of clear boundaries.

Therapy. Treatment is carried out by opening and removing the contents. After cleansing the cavity, apply a bandage to the wound using fatty ointments:

  • Vaselinova;
  • Vishnevsky;
  • Sintomycinova;
  • Tetracycline.

If there are signs of necrosis (tissue death), necrolytic agents (for example, trypsin) or enzyme-containing ointments are prescribed to accelerate the process of rejection of the affected tissue.


The disease is caused by tiny parasitic insects.

When infected with ear mites, the animal begins to shake its head and scratch its ears.

If an infection gets into the wounds, swelling soon begins and an abscess or phlegmon develops. Otodectosis often ends in death. Treatment should primarily be aimed at combating the ear parasite. After recovery, the lump on the ear can be removed surgically.

Enlarged lymph nodes

Compaction and enlargement of lymph nodes are typical for:

  1. Lymphadenitis, which is caused by various viruses and bacteria.
  2. Malignant neoplasms that metastasize to the lymph nodes.

Lymphadenitis is characterized by high fever, apathy and decreased appetite. But the disease is not so dangerous, and after eliminating the cause of inflammation, the lymph nodes return to their previous size.


Presumably polyp.
Cats develop benign and malignant tumors. Under certain circumstances, a harmless growth degenerates into an oncological tumor.

Most often, this development of events occurs when the cat owner decides to fix the problem on his own. Therefore, if you find a lump on or near the ear, you should seek veterinary help. Polyps occur in the ears of young or mature animals.

Even when the tumor does not hurt, it must be removed, as conditions arise for otitis media - inflammation of the ear. The enlarged formation blocks the ear canal and can lead to deafness. In any case, a sample is taken for histological examination. If the oncological nature of the disease is confirmed, radiotherapy or chemotherapy methods are used.


Malignant tumors - mastocytomas form in older pets. At the initial stage, the lump looks harmless. However, as the tumor matures, cells in its center die. Necrotic tissue falls off and ulcers form.

Treatment is surgical - in addition to the tumor itself, up to 3 cm of surrounding tissue is removed, up to the amputation of the shell. A course of chemotherapy or radiotherapy is carried out, followed by rehabilitation and lifelong dietary nutrition.

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A lump near a cat's ear may well be a manifestation of a purulent form of otitis media. Inflammation in the ear is almost never limited to just this symptom. The disease cannot be ignored because it seriously affects the cat’s condition. Animal :

  • behaves restlessly;
  • constantly scratches the ear;
  • loses appetite;
  • losing weight.

© shutterstock

Treatment of otitis media that has caused a lump behind the ear depends on its causes. It may require the use of antibiotics, anti-fungal medications, anti-mite drops, and even surgery. Sometimes a tissue biopsy of the lump is recommended to exclude its malignant transformation.

Ixodid tick

Ixodid tick
Sometimes an ixodid tick that has burrowed into an ear or another part of the body and sucked blood is mistaken for a lump.

Ticks are brought home by cats traveling through areas rich in bushes. Arthropods most often attack in early spring.

Ticks can carry the following infectious diseases:

  1. Borreliosis or Weill's disease - bacteria lead to refusal to eat, dermatitis, and heart problems. Lymph nodes enlarge. After 2 months, lameness develops.
  2. Hemobartonellosis: rickettsia, which are activated under the influence of stress and consumption of large amounts of raw river fish. Anemia develops - urine becomes thin, mucous membranes become pale.

If the arthropod is torn off, severe inflammation will develop. Therefore, a responsible owner of a roaming cat purchases a tick remover and carefully removes the parasite. You should work carefully: if you crush a tick, its contents will fall on your hands. Parasites transmit infectious diseases of cats, dogs and humans.

Unscrewing the pliers

Reliable protection - Spot-on drops that protect against ticks, fleas and worms. The parasite should be placed in a bottle and taken to the laboratory. If pathogens are detected, early treatment will avoid consequences.

Diagnosis of ear cancer in cats

You will need to provide a detailed health history of your cat prior to the onset of symptoms. Be sure to describe any sores that were noticeable on other parts of the body, even if you suspect they were caused by injuries from outdoor activities or scratches on the skin.

During the exam, your veterinarian will carefully examine any other sores or tumors on your cat's body. The lymph nodes will be carefully felt to determine if they are enlarged, a sign that the body is responding to an infection or invasion.

A sample of lymph fluid may be taken to test for cancer cells. Your veterinarian will order a complete blood count and chemistry profile to make sure your cat's other organs are working normally and to determine if the white blood cell count is higher than normal; again, a sign that the body is fighting an invasive disease or infection.

A biopsy of the ulcerated tissue on your cat's ear will be taken so that the doctor can diagnose the specific type of growth, whether it is carcinoma or benign tissue growth.

This is necessary to differentiate an ulcer from any other condition that may cause the same symptoms.

X-rays of your cat's chest and skull will allow your veterinarian to visually examine the lungs for any abnormalities, especially tumors, and to ensure that carcinoma has not spread to the bones.

Possible treatments

Therapy for each cat is selected individually depending on the diagnostic results and the severity of the tumor in the ear. During treatment procedures, it is necessary to treat the affected area with antiseptic solutions several times daily. In case of an inflammatory reaction or minor damage, medications of the following groups are used:

  • antibiotics;
  • anti-inflammatory;
  • painkillers;
  • immunostimulating.

If the tumor is benign, then it is surgically removed. During the postoperative period, the cat needs to take medications for a speedy recovery. When the tumor is oncological in nature, chemotherapy is first performed, followed by surgery to remove the tumor in the ear area. The earlier cancer is detected, the greater the chances of curing it. In advanced forms, when cancer cells have spread to other lymph nodes and internal organs, treatment is ineffective and the cat must be euthanized.

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