Nasopharyngeal Polyps in Cats
These wicked tumors affect cats at all ages but for some reason target younger cats

Nasopharyngeal polyps in cats, depending of the location and the severity, can produce only minor problems, or very significant implications.

They can attack your cat’s pharynx, which the back of their throat, or the middle ear, where it can cause a perforation of your pets ear drums.

Although these polyps are usually benign, they can lead to several other complications and if not treated, can become malignant.

Sneezing, which is not uncommon in cats is a result of these growths, as well as snoring.

You expect your cat to meow and purr very gently when they sleep, but not snore.


If your cat is snoring or suddenly starts to snore, there is a very good chance that they have developed nasopharyngeal polyps.

Nasopharyngeal polyps in cats are quite often referred to as ear polyps, which is somewhat misleading.

Although they do affect the ears, they also affect your cat’s throat, and the ratio is about fifty-fifty.

These tumors can affect cats at any age and any breed, although they are much more common in younger cats between the ages of one year to four years old.


The exact cause of these tumors is not fully understood by the medical community.

However, it is believed to be an inflammatory process that is caused by a viral or fungal infection, but that has never been fully documented.

There is also speculation that it may be a slight birth defect, but that has also never been documented. But there is one thing is fully understood with this

Nasopharyngeal polyps in cats; it can be very painful and challenging for your cat.

Polyps are technically described as any growth or mass that is protruding from a mucous membrane in your cat.

They can occur wherever there is a mucous membrane including the nose, ears, mouth, or throat, as well as several other locations; but with these growths it will affect either your cat’s throat or their ears.

They may also be an overgrowth of your cat’s normal tissues, which is where the theory of inflammation comes in.

But in some cases, they can actually be true tumors or mass growths of new tissue that is separate from the supporting membranes.

However, whichever type of polyps they are, they can cause several complications in your cats overall health.


Green eyes in catsNasopharyngeal polyps in cats can be very painful

There are several symptoms with nasopharyngeal polyps in cats and they will all generally start out very slowly and then develop into chronic symptoms.

Eventually they show very little progress when they are not treated properly.

The symptoms will start in either your cat’s ears, or their throat.

If the ears are affected, these polyps can affect either the outer or the middle ears of your cat.

The first set of symptoms that you will see will be your cat starting to shake their head or scratch at their head as they are experiencing a lot of pain.

If this growth has affected the middle ear, the next symptoms may be a thick and bloody discharge from your pet’s ear canal.

With middle ear infections, your cat may also experience head tilting and start to have trouble with their balance when walking.

They may also show symptoms of a droopy eyelid or their third eyelid may start to cover their eye as a result.

If the polyp is located in the cat’s pharynx, which is the back of their throat, the first set of symptoms will be your cats breathing.

This may not be noticeable at first, but what will be is your cat sneezing. Sneezing is not uncommon, until it becomes chronic, and it this case, it will become chronic.

However, perhaps the most telling of all symptoms is your cat snoring.

Snoring is very uncommon and almost always alerts you that something is wrong with your cat.

There are some other diseases or conditions that will closely resemble nasopharyngeal polyps such as bacterial infections in your cat’s ears or an actual tumor in their throat.

Although the cause is different, your cat will still need treatment for these conditions.


There are several treatments for nasopharyngeal polyps in cats, and the treatment will obviously depend on where the polyp is and how bad it is.

There are several veterinarians that may recommend removing the polyp by plucking it out if it is in the pharynx.

However if this is the recommendation, you should visit with them before making a decision, or get another recommendation.

Do not be timid with your veterinarian about a second opinion; it is your cat and their health that is at stake.

Plucking out the polyp rather than having surgery has been reported to be successful when followed up with oral steroid treatments.

However, you should challenge this success and ask for any published documentation.

The reason is very simple.

By plucking rather than surgically removing the polyp, the polyp has a very good chance of growing back, especially it is an extension of the middle or outer ear.

The next form of treatment is by surgery.

When the bulla, which is your cats middle ear, shows up as abnormal on an X-ray, surgery to remove the polyp form the bulla will be done, especially it the polyp has passed through your cats ear drum.

If the polyp is surgically removed from your cats throat, a procedure called bulla osteotomy is performed.

This procedure will involve the shaving of your cats hair under their neck and penetrating the skin to gather access to their middle ear.

With this procedure, the bulla is opened; the polyp is removed as well as the infected tissue, and then thoroughly flushed.

Your veterinarian will than place an Elizabethan collar on your cat’s neck until the stitches are removed.

However, there are some complications that you will most likely encounter and they are very common with this surgery.

Horners syndrome is a very common after effect of this type of a surgery, and this is a condition where your cat’s eyelid may droop very severely for several days.

Although it is a very frightening experience for owners, it is almost always corrected with time without any type of treatment.

Another potential complication with nasopharyngeal polyps in cats is partial facial paralysis that affects your cats ability to blink, another frightening occurrence.

However, eye drops can easily rectify this condition and within a week or so your cat should have no problem at all in blinking.


Nasopharyngeal polyps in cats can have several very painful symptoms for your pet as well as some frightening after affects for you.

However in most all reported cases, after surgery and the expected complications, your cat should return to normal within a few weeks.

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