Monday, September 21, 2009

The Tragic Tale of the Cauliflower Cat

If you've read my blog before you've met Damian, one of my Siamese cats. Damian is a beautiful seal-point Siamese cat with long pointy chocolate ears and a penchant for the taste of ribbon and tulle. He was the subject of my LAPCPADPOUB Day poem back in October of last year and he often finds a way in front of the camera along with his "brother," Darwin, a blue-point Siamese.

Darwin and Damian are best pals, but they do enjoy a good playful cat brawl of an evening. Last Monday we noticed that Damian's ear was starting to swell up a bit. We assumed that he and Darwin had got into a scrap and maybe Darwin had bitten his ear. There was no blood and only a bit of swelling so we didn't worry.

But then it continued to swell.

A lot. It looked like the skin was about to burst in his ear.

And his ear didn't stick straight up anymore. It sort of stuck out sideways like an airplane ear. Damian was feeling very sorry for himself and began hiding in strange places in the house. He stopped eating and playing so we knew it was time for a visit to the vet.

We learned that Damian has an aural hematoma. This means that there is a collection of blood within the cartilage layers of the ear. It usually shows up as a fluid-filled swelling on the pinna, or floppy part of the ear. Some cats get them just from scratching their ear or shaking their head, but we think Darwin bit him in some sort of WWE showdown on the patio. It could have even been from one of his signature moves where he'll grab Damian's head and kick him like mad with his big back legs. Before you feel too sorry for Damian, you should know he weighs about 10 lbs and Darwin weighs about 5 lbs.

The worst part of this diagnosis is that most animals with an aural hematoma are left permanently disfigured with a kickin' case of cauliflower ear. I immediately searched online for photos of pets with cauliflower ear and was shocked - it makes animals look like they've gone a few rounds in a boxing ring with one short, dumpy fattened ear.

So the vet said that since this condition is extremely painful and obviously affecting Damian he would slice open the ear and drain the blood. Regardless of what he did, we'd still end up with a cat with cauliflower ear.

We brought him home and he seemed a lot more comfortable without this enormous bulbous bubble of blood in his ear. The incision had to be left open to drain so everytime he flopped his head we got a blood spatter in the house, making our house crime-scene worthy for two full days.

Sadly his ear is permenently flopped. I can tell it's a strange sensation for him to have a floppy ear because he's constantly twitching it and he's not acting 100% himself yet, but he's eating and he's stopped hiding, so we can tell he's on the mend.

Poor Damian has been plagued with a life of being "different." We bought Darwin first from a well-known breeder in Florida, but then Farmer B decided Darwin was lonely and needed a friend. One week later he made the long drive back to the breeder to get another kitten. She sold us Damian for a discount because he has a bend in his tail near the tip and would be no good for the show ring.

A few years ago he took a hard fall and chipped one of his snaggleteeth and had to have it filed down. And let's not forget his insanely crossed eyes. A crooked tail, crossed eyes, one filed-down tooth and one long snaggletooth and now one floppy cauliflower ear.

And we love him just the same. But you've got to admit, looking at the first photo in this post - then looking a the last - it is a bit heartbreaking, isn't it?


Jeff Vandiver said...

That's too bad. We had a cat that started losing teeth and all kinds of stuff, so we had it put down. It's pretty sad. Thankfully, your kitty is still alive.

Lo said...

poor kitty :(

Kelly said...

He just needs a beret, worn to the side, then he would be one cool cat!
(In all seriousness I hope the little guy is healed up soon!)

Darla said...

a little sad,,,,,,,,,could have been a lot worse! Count your blessings.

Annie*s Granny said...

Oh, the poor baby :-(

Our dog, Otto, Had an aural hematoma last February, while we were still in AZ. His wasn't painful, but it sure did look bad. I did all the on-line checking and it didn't look good....the cauliflower ear, stitching (quilting) the entire ear, very costly surgery, high probability it would return. We opted to wait until we got home in March, and took him to our regular vet. He did the surgery, the scar isn't even visible, and the entire thing cost only $125 including his antibiotics and cone collar! He's just as good as new, and still as handsome as ever.

But even if Otto's ear had been deformed, we'd have loved him just as much. Maybe more...they need a bit more love just for being "different".

Dani said...

He's a beauty Kate. Floppy ears and all.

Stefaneener said...

Poor baby. Maybe it will add to his quirky charm.

Hey, my daughter had one of these, after falling and hitting her ear on a cement planter. The Google results were more. . . veterinary than I'd hoped for.

It's a time when you wish you had some leeches handy.

Ribbit said...

It's called character. He's gorgeous and fits in with the family perfectly. The man's eye, your hand and the cat's ear. He just didn't want you guys getting all of the attention.

Here's hoping everyone gets to feeling better soon!

Erin said...

Kate, I feel for you... I worked in a vet hospital for many years and have seen the hematoma repairs, cauliflowers and all! I am not a huge cat fan, but that being said, I think Damian is cuter now, lol! I love the expression on his face combined with the ear... too cute!

Kelly said...

He just needs a beret worn cocked to the side, then he will be one cool cat!

donna said...

I'm so sorry about Damian's ear, but glad that he's on the mend. Now that we have a cat, I'm very interested in all things related to cats. Somehow, you've managed to make a cauliflower ear funny. That snaggle tooth photo added a lot to the post.

donna said...

I'm so sorry about Damian's ear, but glad that he's on the mend. Now that we have a cat, I'm very interested in all things related to cats. Somehow, you've managed to make a cauliflower ear funny. That snaggle tooth photo added a lot to the post.

Amy said...

I hope he's getting used to the floppy ear. It's sad to watch them adjust. My older cat recently had 5 more teeth pulled. Now, he's 15 years old with only about 4 teeth on the right side of his head. They pulled the bottom "fang" and for days, when he'd run his tongue to the right he looked so confused. Strangely, he has nearly all of his teeth on the left side. He did get used to it after a few days.

Stella said...

Poor kitty. But I know I know his inner beauty and love for you is still intact. I hope he heals well.

Kathryn said...

Hi, Kate. I think it adds to his character - and what a story to tell to the other katdudes!

Thank you for the wonderful comment you left on my blog. I really liked the line from "Geisha" - it is so true.

I have a new and much less depressing post up now :) Please give it a visit.

Take care and hug your partner!
K (aka Mad Beach Maven)

Erin said...

my cats ear is swollen just like this, im not sure what to do :(

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