Margot, a 3.2 pound 16 week old female kitten, came in to the hospital for increased breathing effort and lethargy. She had always been a snuffly kitten, but she was getting worse. During her exam, we found that she was bright and happy, but had a rattling noise in her throat when she breathed. Her belly was also bloated and had a gassy feeling.

Looking for the source of her breathing troubles, we took some radiographs of her chest, which showed that her heart and lungs were normal, but that her gastrointestinal tract was full of gas – from her esophagus to her stomach and her intestines.

These radiographs were abnormal and indicated something major was wrong. We then sedated Margot to allow us look to more closely in the back of her mouth and throat. Once she relaxed, we were able to look above the soft palate and found a large polyp in the back of her throat- it was so big it was interfering with her ability to breathe, causing her to swallow air.

Because Margot was uncomfortable, we passed a tube from her nose into her stomach to remove some of the air from her stomach while we waited to be able to do surgery.

The next day, we put Margot under general anesthesia to remove the polyp (and spay her!) We laid Margot on her back and carefully pushed her soft palate aside to reveal the polyp. The doctor grabbed hold of the polyp with an instrument and pulled gently and steadily until it popped out. The picture below compares the polyp to a quarter, for size reference.

Margot recovered uneventfully from anesthesia and was breathing better and feeling more like her normal self as soon as her anesthesia wore off.

Polyps are benign growths of cats, especially kittens, that can occur in the ears and the back of the throat. We aren’t sure exactly why they happen – though we suspect they are related to inflammation, and some can be triggered by infections. While they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body, the polyps can cause symptoms such as respiratory congestion, discharge, difficulty swallowing, chronic ear infections, and in some cases, neurological signs such as a head tilt. Removal of a polyp is often curative, though in some cases, more extensive surgery is needed depending on where the polyp is located.

We are so glad sweet Margot recovered well from this treatable condition!