Nasal Polyps in Cats

Nasal polyps in cats typically appear in the back of the throat and in the middle ear. These non-cancerous growths can even puncture the ear drum if left untreated. Read on to learn more about nasal polyps in cats.

Causes and Risk Factors for Feline Nasal Polyps

Vets don't know exactly what causes nasal polyps in cats. They think it's an inflammatory process that might be linked to a viral infection, but so far they have no evidence to prove this. Younger cats seem more likely to develop nasal polyps than older cats. Cats of both genders and all breeds seem equally prone.

Though nasal polyps are usually benign, their presence can have s significant impact on your cat's quality of life. Nasal polyps can make eating, swallowing and breathing troublesome for your cat. They can impact your cat's hearing and balance; they can even cause neurological symptoms. Nasal polyps in the ear can contribute to recurrent bacterial infections of the ear.

Symptoms of Nasal Polyps in Cats

If your cat develops nasal polyps, he may have varying symptoms, depending on the location of the polyps. Polyps in the back of your cat's throat could cause snoring, difficulty breathing, and problems swallowing. Polyps in the middle ear can affect your cat's balance, and can lead to ear infections that are difficult to treat or keep coming back.

Diagnosing and Treating Nasal Polyps in Cats

Your vet will need a complete physical exam and medical history. Your vet should carefully examine your cat's ears and throat for evidence of polyps. Your cat may need to be sedated or anesthetized, unless he can sit quietly for these procedures. Sometimes, polyps in the back of the throat may be hidden behind the palate; if this is the case, your cat may need to be anesthetized or sedated, and your vet may need to take X-rays, CT scans of MRIs of his head.

Your vet will take a biopsy sample of the polyp tissue to verify that it isn't cancerous.

Treating nasal polyps in cats usually involves removing them surgically. If your cat has polyps at the back of his throat, your vet may simply pull them out, but they might grow back. If your cat has polyps in his middle ear, then he may need a more complicated surgical procedure to remove them, especially if they have penetrated the eardrum or are causing neurological symptoms.

Your vet may prescribe steroid drugs after surgery. These drugs can help keep your cat's nasal polyps from recurring.

If your cat has surgery, he will need to wear an Elizabethan collar for 10 to 14 days, until the stitches are removed. Surgery can sometimes cause nerve damage, especially to the optic nerve, but this is not usually serious. Most nasal polyps in cats don't recur after having been surgically removed. 

Nasal polyps in cats are difficult to prevent, since vets don't know what causes them. If your cat develops symptoms of nasal polyps, see a vet right away, before the polyps grow large enough to cause breathing or neurological difficulties.