From only a few weeks of age, Snowball had sneezed and suffered from flu-like symptoms. Initially he would improve with courses of antibiotics but his ailments would inevitably recur as soon as his medication finished. Eventually, the antibiotics stopped having any positive effect at all. Poor Snowball continued to sneeze out large, thick dollops of green mucus everywhere he went.
We were worried that he had severe, permanent nasal damage and inflammation (chronic rhinitis) caused by an infection – such as the Herpes virus – contracted at a young age. We administered strong steroid anti-inflammatory drugs and Snowball did show some improvement. However, no treatment ever gave him a complete or lasting cure and he snuffled his way through the first seven months of his life, whilst looking thin and unkempt.
Given the persistence and severity of Snowball’s symptoms, a decision was made that while under anaesthesia for castration we would flush his nasal passages to try and clear them, and also take tissue samples to identify infections present. What we found was a huge surprise to all of us – in more ways than one! At the back of Snowball’s throat was an enormous tumour. It was so large we couldn’t identify his airway and it was hard to see how he managed to swallow very much at all. The obstructive growth was acting like a plug to the back of his nose so that no air could pass from his nasal passages to his lungs.
The obstructive polyp in situ
After careful examination and manipulation, we established the tumour was a benign, non-cancerous, naso-pharyngeal polyp which could be removed. These tumours are not common but can occur irrespective of age and grow from stalks at the back of the nose. The polyps can reach an impressive size, and can even grow up the tube which leads to the ear (the eustachian tube) and then continue on out of the ear canal into plain view.
We have never seen a polyp as substantial as poor Snowball’s and in such a young cat too. As soon as the polyp was removed from its stalk, Snowball made an almost instant recovery and is now healthy, able to breathe freely and behave just like a playful kitten should!
The growth measured over 5cm in length and at its widest, had a 2cm diameter. The polyp stalk is clearly visible.
A playful Snowball back at 387 Vets for his post-op check.
“387 saved our kitten’s life. Though any vet could have noted Snowball’s cat flu from the reams of gloop gushing from his otherwise adorable face, the staff at 387 dug into research and conducted an exploratory nasal flush. This identified a polyp longer than his head, squishing his windpipe and exacerbating his original ailments. They removed said growth, and returned to us a fully refreshed and refurbished little cat. ” Snowball’s owner, Lee