Polyps forming in a cat's ear are a rather uncommon occurrence, but one that needs to be carefully monitored and treated effectively. Polyps in the ear can be damaging to the eardrum and cause severe and painful symptoms. Ear polyps occur in cats of all ages and breeds, and in both sexes.
Polyps are small, vascular growths on the surface of a mucus membrane such as inside the ear. Ear polyps are usually located deep within the horizontal passage of the ear canal and can be difficult to see from the ear opening. Polyps are attached to the ear by long, thin stalk, with a base that settles under the membrane of the inner ear.
The exact cause of ear polyps is unknown, although it is thought that inner ear inflammation caused by fungi, bacteria or even viruses may be the culprit. The inflammation can cause the lining of the ear canal to swell, allowing polyps to form.
Symptoms of ear polyps in cats are often like that of an inner ear infection. You may notice your cat scratching or shaking its head, or having trouble walking in a straight line as equilibrium may be affected. Polyps may also cause a thick or bloody discharge from the ears, difficulty swallowing or breathing. Other symptoms may include drooping or swollen eyelids. Symptoms usually start off slowly, and quickly become chronic.
If your cat is exhibiting these symptoms, he or she should be taken to a veterinarian immediately. Diagnosis of ear polyps is based on an exam of the ear canal with an otoscope, a medical tool consisting of a light and magnifying lens used to examine the internal ear. Most often, cats will need to be sedated so that the veterinarian may properly and safely examine the entire ear canal. Head x-rays may also be helpful in identifying ear polyps. Once the polyp is identified, your vet will do a biopsy to rule out the possibility of it being a cancerous tumor.
Surgical removal is usually needed to eliminate the polyps from the cat's ear. Treatment usually consists of surgical removal. The entire polyp, including the base needs to be removed or they could reoccur within months. After surgical removal, antibiotics will be administered for several weeks to rid the body of the infection, fungi or virus that may have caused the polyps to form and to assure that your cat's ear heals efficiently.