Nasal & Nasopharyngeal Polyps in Cats

Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Julia Wilson

Nasopharyngeal polyps are benign growths that arise from the mucous membranes of the nose (nasal) or the base of the eustachian tube (nasopharyngeal). Polyps can extend into the middle ear, external ear, pharynx (cavity behind the mouth) and nasal cavity.

The exact cause isn’t entirely understood but it is believed that they are the result of chronic inflammation or congenital (present at birth). Young cats are most commonly affected, with a mean age of 1.5 years.


Nasal polyps

Nasopharyngeal polyps

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Head shaking
  • Head tilt
  • Otitis externa (inflammation of the skin on the outer ear)
  • Ear infection
  • Horner’s syndrome (drooping of the eyelid, constricted pupil, sunken eye and appearance of the third eyelid)


Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and obtain a medical history from you.

  • Radiographs, CT scans or MRI will reveal soft masses and the reach of the polyps. Diagnostic imaging can also rule out other possible causes.
  • Rhinoscopy is an examination of the inside of the nose using a rhinoscope, a thin tube-like instrument. The veterinarian can take a biopsy during this procedure.
  • Otoscopic examination – An examination of the middle ear.


  • Surgical removal of the polyps. If the polyps are within the bulla (middle ear), a bulla osteotomy will be necessary. This involves opening up the middle ear and removing the polyp(s).