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Pet Vet: Mass on cat's nose could be dire

Jeff Kahler, The Modesto Bee on

Published in Pet Help

Frampton is a 12-year-old cat who is well taken care of by Alan and Tammie. Despite their efforts, Alan and Tammie have been unsuccessful at making Frampton an indoor cat. He has insisted on spending time outside through various signaling methods -- not the least of which was urinating on the furniture.

He does not seem to wander far from home and spends almost every night inside the house.

It seems that over the past three months or so, Frampton has developed a mass over his right nasal bridge that extends out to his nose. It started as a nasal discharge then some slight swelling on the right side of his face and has progressed to the point now where the whole bridge on the right is raised a half-inch or so above the level on the left.

Frampton has been treated with two different antibiotics which helped little, if at all, and he now seems quite uncomfortable.

Indeed, I would suspect that Frampton is very uncomfortable. I would have to rule out a simple infection in this case because antibiotics haven't helped. It is time to do some deeper digging both figuratively and literally.

Frampton needs to have his nasal sinuses radiographed; I would also recommend a biopsy of the tissue, along with a nasal swab for microscopic exam.

Unfortunately, one possibile diagnosis is squamous cell carcinoma. This type of tumor is aggressive and destructive and once it reaches proportions such as those described in Frampton's case, it is unlikely curable.

Another possibility is Cryptococcus. This is a single-celled fungal organism that can infect the nasal passages in cats and lead to a process like the one described in Frampton's case.

These organisms divide rapidly and can colonize very quickly. The lesions they cause only involve soft tissue and do not cause boney destruction.

Nasal radiographs can clue in on these cases if boney involvement is not present. The good news about Cryptococcus is that it is treatable. There are medications called antifungal agents that are effective at killing these organisms, although the treatment process can be protracted.

There are other types of tumors, inflammatory and infectious processes that might be causing Frampton's problem. As always, a definitive diagnosis is necessary for treatment. It is my sincere hope that Frampton has a curable disease.

(Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto, Calif. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, CA 95352.)

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