Although an uncommon occurrence, ear polyps can severely damage the ear drum of your cat if they are not treated in time. Ear polyps are neither breed nor sex specific, but they usually occur in cats between the ages of 1 to 4 years. Ear polyps in cats produce symptoms that are almost similar to those caused by parasites like cat ear mites or other ear infections.
In addition to the normal symptoms associated with ear mite infections like scratching and pain on palpating the ear, some of the symptoms specific to or indicative of ear polyps include the following:
- Inability to walk in a straight line
- A tilted head
- Droopy eyelid/s
- Partial covering of the eye by the third eyelid
Ear polyps are usually located in the horizontal passage of the ear canal and difficult to see without an otoscope, a medical instrument with a magnifying glass and light used for examining the tympanic membrane. The veterinarian might need to sedate your cat for the examination.
A polyp is actually a small vascular growth on the surface of a mucus membrane that appears almost similar to a squamous cell tumor. The first step in diagnosis is to get a biopsy of the polyp to rule out a cancerous growth.
The most common treatment of an ear polyp is through surgical removal. Usually, the veterinarian pulls up the long stalk to which the polyp is attached and cuts it off. The problem with this simple non-invasive surgery is that the root of the polyp remains within the ear and can resurface within a short period of one to eight months.
A permanent solution is through an invasive surgery that involves the removal of the lower part of the bone surrounding the ear. Known as ventral bullae ostetomy, this is a delicate procedure and should be performed by an expert who is well versed in the risks involved. Although the cat recovers within a matter of a few weeks, in rare cases cats may develop a permanent inability to walk straight and have drooping eyelids.
The exact cause behind the appearance of ear polyps is not known but the common perception is that they occur in reaction to an ear inflammation caused by bacteria or a virus known as calci. Ear infections are one of the most common occurrences in pets; the most common of them being cat and dog ear mites that can develop into serious infections if they are not attended to in time.
The best mode of prevention is by ensuring a regular ear cleaning regimen and periodic removal of accumulated wax using home remedies for dog ear mites. A clean ear allows you to spot early signs of any unusual growth in the ear and therefore helps in early treatment. It’s also appropriate to mention that polyps can also occur in the nasal passages and throat that cause difficulty in breathing or swallowing.