Nasal tumor or upper respiratory infection?

This forum is for cat lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your cat.


Purred: Wed Jul 9, '08 3:17am PST 
My cat, last week and the beginning of this week, has developed a thick amount of inflamed tissue in one of her nasal passages (and has completely blocked the airway). It looks to be a polyp of some kind or even worse, possibly a tumor. The first symptoms she had last week before this polyp/tumor became visible was sneezing and noisy breathing. Now within the last 2 to 3 days she started having her nose bleed from the other nasal passage that was not blocked. Also, I noticed a greenish discharge a few times coming from the polyp/tumor. I took her to the vet yesterday and we're treating it as an upper respiratory infection, but she said it was possibility it could be a tumor and watch for improvements within the next 3 days. She also said my cat had a fever. I'm worried my cat might not have 3 days to play around with and generally I like to treat things holistically. Can someone give me detailed info on the symptoms of nasal tumors vs. an upper respiratory infection?


Queen of the- Household
Purred: Wed Jul 9, '08 5:15pm PST 
Nasal Tumors

Information For Pet Owners

Key Points
The majority of nasal tumors in dogs and cats are malignant.
The most common clinical sign is nasal discharge.
CT scans are much more sensitive than routine radiography for imaging nasal tumors and determining the extent of disease.
The prognosis for untreated malignant nasal tumors is poor, with survival times of only a few months after diagnosis. Radiation therapy can prolong survival and improve quality of life in many animals.

What are Nasal Tumors?

* The majority of nasal tumors in dogs and cats are malignant.
* The most common nasal tumors in dogs are adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, undifferentiated carcinoma.
* The most common nasal tumors in cats are lymphoma and adenocarcinoma.
* Other tumors seen in both species include fibrosarcomas and other sarcomas. Benign tumors include adenomas, fibromas, papillomas, and transmissible venereal tumors (TVTs in dogs only).
* Older animals are more commonly affected, but nasal tumors can be found in animals of any age.

Clinical Signs

* The most common clinical sign is nasal discharge. The discharge can be serous, mucoid, mucopurulent, or hemorrhagic. One or both nostrils can be involved, however if bilateral nasal discharge is seen, one side is usually worse than the other. Many animals start with discharge from one nostril, which progresses to both nostrils.
* Sneezing and decreased or absent air flow through one of the nares may also be seen.
* Deformation of the facial bones, hard palate or upper dental arcade may be seen.
* If the tumor grows into the cranial vault, neurologic signs can be seen.
* Tumor growth into the orbit can cause protrusion of the eye or inability of the eye to be gently pushed back into the orbit. Neurologic signs and ocular abnormalities are rarely the only signs seen (ie no nasal discharge).
* Anorexia and weight loss can accompany the respiratory signs.


* Diagnosis of nasal tumors is made by identifying abnormal tissue on physical exam, radiography (xrays), CT scan, fine needle aspirates of the mass or areas of facial deformity, or rhinoscopy with biopsies of the abnormal tissue. Biopsies should be obtained in all animals for histologic (microscopic) confirmation.
* A definitive diagnosis often requires repeated evaluation, especially in dogs, because, unlike cats, they do not develop chronic nasal inflammation caused by viruses.
* CT scans are much more sensitive than routine radiography for imaging nasal tumors and determining the extent of disease.
* Thoracic radiographs should be evaluated for spread of cancer to the lungs, although lung metastases are uncommon.
* In the case of lymphoma, bone marrow aspirates and abdominal radiographs or ultrasound should be evaluated. Cats with lymphoma should also be tested for feline leukemia and FIV.


* Benign tumors should be surgically excised.
* Treatment options for malignant tumors include surgical excision, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these therapies.
* Radiation therapy is the treatment of choice.
* Surgery alone does not result in prolonged survival times. A recent study indicated that a combination of surgery and radiation therapy results in longer survival times if the pet has a sarcoma tumor in the nasal cavity.
* Chemotherapy can be attempted when radiation therapy has failed or is not a viable option. Lymphoma in cats should be treated with standard lymphoma chemotherapy protocols or radiation therapy. Radiation therapy does not have the systemic side effects of chemotherapy, but may not be effective if the tumor involves other organs.


* Complications of radiation therapy include: radiation-induced mucosal inflammation in the nasal cavity (seen as congestion, increased mucous production and bloody nasal discharge); oral inflammation (seen as increased salivation, oral pain, and bad breath); skin reactions; ocular manifestations (conjunctivitis and eyelid irritation, decreased tear production, corneal ulceration, cataracts, nasolacrimal duct obstruction, retinopathy, and optic nerve injury; and a transient central nervous system syndrome (seen as disorientation and lethargy).
* A temporary complication of surgery may be air that develops under the skin (subcutaneous emphysema) which usually resolves within two to three weeks. Dogs that have had a nasal tumor removed will not have any normal turbinate bones left within the nasal cavity, therefore chronic nasal discharge is not uncommon.
* Persistent weight loss, anorexia and weight loss, neurologic signs, and labored breathing are common complications of nasal tumors, which lead to euthanasia.


* The prognosis for untreated malignant nasal tumors is poor, with survival times of only a few months after diagnosis.
* Radiation therapy can prolong survival and improve quality of life in many animals.


Queen of the- Household
Purred: Wed Jul 9, '08 5:17pm PST 
ps I have had two upper resperitory infections, I just had to take antibiotics for two weeks and was fine. Hope that is what it is instead.
good luck


Queen of the- Household
Purred: Wed Jul 9, '08 5:20pm PST 
Respiratory Infections and the common cold in cats

Cats can get upper respiratory infections or what we call the common cold or flu. However you can not pass a human cold on to your cat and vice versa. The cat 'cold' is a completely different cup of tea. If your cat has any of the below symptoms for more than a day or two he/she probably has an upper respiratory infection.

Upper respiratory infections are extremely contagious (infection can be passed through an airborne contagion or through casual contact) and it is very common for all cats within a household to become infected quickly. Although most of the agents that cause URI do not survive very long (from a few hours to a few weeks) in the environment, they can last a very long time in the cat's respiratory tract in a latent or potent form. Many cats actually will carry the agent in their body for the duration of life. In such a case your cat may suffer from occasional flare-ups when stressed or when the immune system is weak. Such a cat may also pass the agent on to other cats (even if that cat isn't actively sick). Cats can get URI's for a variety of reasons just as people do. These reasons can range from:

A bacteria or virus (Chlamydia, Feline Calicivirus, Feline Herpes virus also known as Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus) a majority of UTI's are caused by a virus
A parasitic worm infection
An allergic reaction

Symptoms to look for:

Runny nose
Discharge from the nose or mouth
Respiratory problems
Oral ulcers
Conjunctivitis (discharge from the eye)


If you suspect any sort of "cold" take your cat to the vet immediately for an examination. Although URI's are not terribly serious, your cat can get secondary infections during this time period which could be more serious and can lead to chronic illnesses. Many cats with a cold will also have their appetites suppressed. Cats who do not eat for even just a day or two can be at risk for hepatic lipidosis, which can be a very serious illness. The bottom line is that although a cold in and of itself is not terribly serious, that left untreated, it can turn into a serious illness.

Most cases of URI are taken care of with a course of drug therapy (antibiotics, decongestants, antivirals), rest, lots of food and liquids. Humidification of the nasal passages may also help your cat, you can do this by purchasing a humidifier for the room or bringing your kitty in with you for a nice steaming in the bathroom. However, do not allow your cat to catch a 'chill' if you do get him/her wet.

If you do have a cat that has been on therapy for a few weeks and is still not feeling better, or if your pet has finished his/her course of medication and is still ill your vet may have him/her in for another visit to do some more tests. These may include X-rays of the skull which allow you to see the nasal cavity and frontal sinuses. This can help you determine what, if any damage the infection has done to the nasal passages. A nasal flush can also be performed to collect matter from the nasal cavity. This matter can then be analyzed to better determine what is causing your cat to be ill.

Precautionary measures:

Keep your cat indoors and away from other sick animals. Keep your pet in a clean environment which includes clean food and water bowls and a clean home. Keep your home above 70 degrees and if your cat gets wet either dry him off or make sure he stays warm while he dries off. You can also talk to your vet about yearly vaccinations to ward off such infections.


I'm cute and- know it.
Purred: Wed Jul 9, '08 6:22pm PST 
Both of my kitties have had URI's and they've never had inflamed nasal pasages/polyps. They usually end up sneezing a lot but it doesn't get too bad. I'm sure your vet knows more than I do but did they take a scraping or biopsy a part of the polyp to see what it really is?


Purred: Tue Jul 15, '08 1:37pm PST 
Gracie was just diagnosed with Nasal Lymphoma by an oncologist two weeks ago. I take my cats to a holistic vet and she told me that there are really no natural alternatives to the current chemo/radiation therapy. What she said is that holistic medicine is supportive - helping to keep her appetite and immune system up to speed. I just wanted to let you know what I found out. We started chemo two weeks ago. Here's hoping it's just a resp. infection for your little one.