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Winnie, a 9 month old, black and white, domestic shorthair cat presented to Silver Maple Veterinary clinic for a routine kitten exam with Dr. Sara Pomanti. Winnie was found as a feral cat, but as long as her people could remember, they could hear a wheezing sound when she breathed. At her initial exam, Dr. Pomanti examined her for any sign of an upper respiratory infection or virus. Her temperature was normal and no discharge from her eyes or nose was present. What was noticeable was a gurgling noise every time she breathed.

Winnie was vaccinated and put on an antihistamine to see if there were any nasal secretions that would dry up. She returned for vaccine boosters and her people reported that the antihistamines did not help at all, and that Winnie would gulp from time to time. At this time, a nasopharyngeal polyp was strongly suspected.

A polyp is a benign pink mass that originates from the inner ear. The cause is unknown, but it is suspected to be related to virus exposure. It is commonly seen in younger cats as a pink mass on a stalk, either in the ear canal or emerging into the back of the throat. (see the image below).

Polyps in the throat can be difficult to see in an awake patient, so Winnie’s spay was scheduled with the plan to check her throat for a polyp once she was under anesthesia. In the weeks leading up to the surgery, Winnie was having a harder and harder time eating because of her difficulty breathing. She was losing weight and becoming lethargic.

When Winnie was under anesthesia for her spay, one of our surgeons, Dr. Mary Coughlin explored her oral cavity and found a very large polyp under her soft palate. These type of polyps are removed by gentle traction- pulling it slowly tears the tissue and they bleed minimally. Once the polyp was successfully removed, Winnie’s breathing improved dramatically and instantly.

As stated above, prior to surgery Winnie was losing weight, having trouble eating, and was very lethargic. Today Winnie is happy and healthy, and we have the purr-fect proof…see the short clip below!