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What are Ear Tumors?

Felines can be affected by basal cell tumors, papilloma and inflammatory polyps, but ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma are the most common form of feline ear tumor. Appearing as black or purple masses, ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma tumors commonly affected felines between the ages of three months to five years of age. Feline affected by ear tumors have display clinical signs of itchiness, foul odor, pain and discharge from the ears, which mimics the symptoms of other common feline ear conditions.

Ear tumors in cats are defined as abnormal cell growths within the structures lining or supporting the ear. An ear tumor could emerge from the outer layer of skin, the oil or earwax glands, bones, connective tissues, muscles or middle layers of the skin within a cat’s ear. 

Ear Tumors Average Cost

From 490 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

Symptoms of Ear Tumors in Cats

The most obvious symptoms of ear tumors in cats is itching and pain of the ears. Polyps or lumps may be visible to the naked eye inside the ear canal, but can vary depending on location. These polyps may lacerate, leading to ear discharge or inner ear bleeding. Clinical signs of ear tumors in cats pet owners may note at home include the following: 

  • Deafness
  • Ear draining from an internal abscess
  • Swelling 
  • Ear scratching 
  • Head shaking 
  • Foul odor coming from the ear 
  • Ear discharge 
  • Bloody ears
  • Pus-filled ears 
  • Waxy buildup inside the ears

If the inner or middle ear is affected by an ear tumor, the feline may display neurological signs such as a head tilt and lose her coordination, or sense of balance. 

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Causes of Ear Tumors in Cats

The exact cause of ear tumors in cats is unknown, however, these tumors are believed to be the result of long-term ear canal inflammation caused by chronic infection. It is thought that this chronic inflammation may lead to abnormal development and growth of the ear tissues, causing a tumor to form. This theory comes from the fact that episodes of inflammation cause the earwax gland to promote thick secretions in the external ear canal, which may stimulate cancerous cell production. 

Felines that have a history of chronic ear infections of yeast, bacteria or mites are at higher risk for developing an ear tumor. These infections lead to increased inflammation, causing an overgrowth of tissues and possible formation of cancerous growths.

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Diagnosis of Ear Tumors in Cats

Your veterinarian will likely rely his/her definitive diagnosis upon microscopic tissue examination. Termed histopathology, a microscopic examination of the tissues will provide an accurate diagnosis to the nature of the feline ear tumor. The veterinarian or specialist will need to take a small sample of tissues from the tumor and send the specimens to a specialized diagnostic laboratory. Once at the lab, a veterinary pathologist will determine the nature of the cells, which will indicate whether or not the mass can be fully removed. 

Once the laboratory results are received, the veterinarian will want to perform a urinalysis and blood work to obtain an idea of the feline’s overall health status. Radiographs are also likely completed to locate the spreading of ear tumor cells and aid the doctor in determining a treatment plan.

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Treatment of Ear Tumors in Cats

Your veterinarian will likely refer your feline to a board-certified surgical specialist. A veterinary surgeon is often recommended when handling feline ear tumors, canal tumors, and masses of the middle ear. The most common and effective way of treating ear tumors in cats is surgically removing the growth. However, in cases which the tumor has grown to surrounding tissues and the tumor alone cannot be removed without damaging the ear, extensive surgery is required to ablate the canal. Depending on your feline’s specific condition and the medical advancements available to you, laser surgery to remove the mass is also highly effective.

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Recovery of Ear Tumors in Cats

After surgery, you will be required to keep the surgical site clean and prevent your cat from interfering with healing time. Scratching or rubbing of the ears can cause the operation site to bleed or become infected, ulcerated, and inflamed, therefore, an Elizabethan collar will likely be sent home with you. Any manipulation of the site can remove sutures, which should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about aftercare for your feline following surgery. 

In most ear tumor cases, surgical removal of the tumor results in complete cure. A histopathology of the mass will give your veterinarian an idea of how your cat’s growth will behave, but the veterinary pathologist will state a prognosis of recurrence. 

 

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Ear Tumors Average Cost

From 490 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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Ear Tumors Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Josie

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Tiger

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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Fair severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Inflamed Inner Ear

My 7 year old cat smelled badly for months, and I finally realized it was coming from her ear. Vet took out lots of gunk from her ear. He gave a shot of antibiotics and had me give ear drops for 10 days. Today was a follow up appointment. The smell is 90% better. He took out a solid piece of gunk from the bottom of her ear (I guess due to the drops, it had loosened up). He sees what looks like some kind of growth (polyp??), but it's too far down to see. He said the ear is all red and inflamed deep down. The cat has had zero issues, she seems perfectly fine. He suggested coming back in 2 months again. Since he took out more gunk, could she possibly get better over time? Could that have been what caused the inflammation? I can't afford surgery, but I love my cat. Thank you.

Aug. 30, 2018

Josie's Owner

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Clementine

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Orange tabby

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16 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Ear Itching

Our 16-year-old cat, Clementine, was found to have a mass in her ear when we took her to the vet because she was scratching at her ear until it bled. The vet suggested removing the ear entirely, as the mass is already partially covering her ear canal and is not removable without damaging the ear. Her blood work is good, but given her age and her anxiety at the vet, we hesitate to do that. She's absolutely terrified of being at the vet's office - she growls, moans, and loses bowel control, even with doses of gabupentamin(sp?) the night before and two hours before her appointment. So, we've been giving her antibiotics daily for over a month now (drop form), but she still scratches at the ear until it bleeds and, when she does, it stinks like infection. We now have an Elizabethan collar on her to keep from scratching, but after a week of that, the smell isn't getting better. We're a little worried that she may have fluid that has drained from the mass down into her ear canal and it can't get out, because we can hear sloshing when she shakes her head. We've called our vet a few times, but her opinion is that the only thing we can do is what we are doing already, or do the surgery. She's miserable in the collar. It's impeding her ability to get entirely into the litter box, so she's urinating all around it and then can't clean her paws when she steps in it. Without the collar, she scratches until she bleeds, then sprays it all over the house, which makes us not only worried for her, but our other two cats and our 5-year-old daughter. We're even more worried that she could suffer a major infection if we can't get the fluid out of her ear. Do you have any suggestions for other things we can do to get her symptoms under control and give her a good life for the few years she likely has left? We're getting a little desperate.

Aug. 22, 2018

Clementine's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Sixteen is old for surgery, however if the blood work is good and your Veterinarian determined that she is a candidate for surgery, I would go with the surgery option; I understand your concerns, but there are no other choices apart from continuing with the ‘nursing care’, surgery or euthanasia. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 22, 2018

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Leroy

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Not sure

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding
Lump

I took my kitty to get some lumps on his side removed. He had one in his ear that they left so I'm assuming it isn't a threat to him. I'm unsure and just want some reassurance. Should I take him to a different vet to get it removed ? He doesn't seem to be scratching it or bothered by it.

July 15, 2018

Leroy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It really depends on the type of lumps that were removed, if your Veterinarian left a lump behind you should ask them their rationale for leaving the lump and whether they sent any of the lumps for histopathology (if appropriate). You should speak with your Veterinarian to ask about the remaining lump (there may be a good reason) and to see if there was any histopathology done (if was a tumour etc…). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 15, 2018

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Trixy

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Chinese li hua

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Tumor Or Cancer

My cats name is Trixy I got her when she was 6 and now she’s seven she was living with these really old people that left her in a basement and only fed her never let her out or anything and every since I’ve had her shes dug at her ears and I’ve never really looked at them until a few months ago I fount that she had dirt and built up wax in her ears and she has a not in her ear and I looked it up and fount out it was a tumor in her ear it’s never been proven by a vet but she used to have a huge nott on her head that looked like what skin cancer looks like on a human but it fell off I don’t have the extra money to pay a veterinarian for their professional opinion but when I fount out it was a tumor it said that it could be caused or cause by spreading of cancer.

July 7, 2018

Trixy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm not sure what question you are asking about Trixy, but if she has a tumor in her ear, it may need to be removed whether it is cancerous or not, as masses that block the ear canal can cause chronic infection and irritation. Many clinics do offer free or discounted first exams that may allow you to have her seen and find out more what might be going on with that ear.

July 7, 2018

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Jazz

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tabby

dog-age-icon

15 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hi. My female cat is 15 years and I noticed a blue cyst in her ear yesterday. Today her nose is all swollen and crooked looking. Could the two be related. Thanks

June 10, 2018

Jazz's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It seems unlikely that the two things are related, but without seeing her, I can't be sure. The issue with her nose should probably be examined sooner vs. later, and a veterinarian can look at the cyst in her ear at the same time.

June 11, 2018

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Warren Haynes

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Bombay

dog-age-icon

14 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Obviously Painful
Obviously Painful Itch
Obviously Painful Itch, Bleeding

Warren Haynes (my sweet, beautiful, 14 year old Black Bombay miracle kitty) have been best friends since he was 6 months old. I have always been aware that he was FIV Positive and I had to give him Phenobarbital daily for seizures. He disappeared in 2017.... I was frantic!! I searched everywhere for months. I didn't really ever give up. I just had this feeling deep in my heart that he was out there somewhere. Then, just before Christmas 2019, I received a message from a stranger that they had my cat, Warren!! My reaction was disbelief, but I was reassured that because he has a microchip, he was my good friend, Warren! Understandably, I was extatic! When we were reunited, he was so very skinny and suffering a u.r.i. But he was my best friend, and my belief in miracles was renewed. One thing was very noticeable. What I believed was an abscess in his outer ear. Of course I brought him in to the vet, was given antibiotics for u.r.i but was told that it was not an abscess but a tumor! Having some vet tech background myself, the red flags began to wave in my mind!!! Of course the removal surgery is expensive, and I am mortified that they will find a malignancy during that surgery! I know that he is in pain. I have fashioned an E-collar for him from a paper bowl. Much more comfy for my best buddy. He was constantly after it and had TWO seizures in one day! So he needs to keep those gorgeous claws away from his ear. I think that it's fear that is keeping me from making this decision about surgery. Any advice? Thanks!

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Windsor

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long hair

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Tumor, Cancer

I think my cat has stopped eating and is staying more to himself. I will be taking him be be weighed in case he has lost weight. His eye has turn completely toward the ear and now has mucus coming out of it. He won't let me try to clean his eye and jumps up on my lap for about 2 seconds then back to being closed off by himself. It's breaking my heart and I think he is dying before my eyes

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Charlie

dog-breed-icon

Long haired

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

None

We found Charlie when he was about 3 weeks old . He was left to freeze to death. At 4 weeks we took him to the vet and had a routine check done. They said he was healthy but noticed brown stuff coming from his ear. They cleaned him up and checked him out and advised he had a tumor in his ear. They gave me ear drops and told me not to worry about it . Now at 3 months I can see the tumor and there is some times bleeding. His ear stinks and I’m not sure what to do . I called the vet and she told me it was out of her hands and to see a specialist . Well I am 20 years old and a firefighter who doesn’t make much money so I am not sure we can afford a specialist. Not sure what to do . It doesn’t seem to bother him at all . He doesn’t mess with it or scratch it .

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Phoebe

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American Short Hair

dog-age-icon

18 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Ear Infections

My 18 year old cat was treated for an ear infection 1 month ago but the vet thought it might be an inner ear polyp because her pupils were unevenly dilating and she said it was rare for cats to get ear infections. She also didn't think my cat could handle the surgery and I didn't want to pay for a CT scan. She suggested we try doing maintenance and watch her closely. The infection came back pretty quickly after the first round of drops. I then got new drops with antibiotics as well as oral medication for inflammation. After 10 days of this her ear seemed better but she started having some respiratory issues, as if she was congested or there was some blockage in her nose or throat. She then got an infection in the other ear. I brought her back to the vet and she prescribed an antibiotic that has to be taken with food. But a day later my cat stopped wanting to eat and threw up when I gave her the antibiotics. I'm not getting much guidance from the vet. My cat seems hungry but wont eat much and I'm trying everything, including baby food, bone broth, recovery cat food, etc.. She's still drinking water. Not sure where to turn. She's still on the Prednisolone and ear drops. Not sure how long she will last or how much she's suffering.

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Angel

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Tuxedo

dog-age-icon

11 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

I adopted Angel when he was six months old from a wonderful rescue. He is amazing. He has brought me so much joy. He follows me everywhere and gives me kitty kisses. He is everything I ever wanted in a kitty companion. He is so tolerant of the kids, and even plays with them (5 and 7). He hangs out in the forts they make, and chases them around the house. A week after his adoption, I took him to a vet for a check up. Overall health was great, but the vet did say his ears were a little dirty but nothing to worry about. A few months later I noticed however, one of his ears was filthy and looked like excess brown ear wax. When I googled this symptom it said he may have ear mites. I took him back to the vet and was told yes he does have ear mites and they stuck a Q-tip in his ear and blood squirted out right in front of me, I was completely freaked out. I felt so bad, I had no idea he had been suffering. He showed no other symptom (NO scratching, no head shaking..nothing). Anyways, they deep cleaned his ear, prescribed an antibiotic, probiotic, pain medication, and an anti-parisitic ear drop. The cost 250.00. A few weeks after finishing up the medication his ear got really dirty again, and this time there was visible blood and puss, which he would shake all over the walls of my house. I called the vet and told them that I though I needed more meds, but I could not afford to take him back to the vet due to an unexpected financial situation that occured. But because he was diagnosed with mites, I just though he needed a longer dose. The vet agreeed but decided it was best to try a different ear drop, because I was not able to bring him in for a visit. (Now I wish I had, maybe they would have caught this sooner). Anyways another month passed, and he wasnt getting any better. I had decided to take him back to the vet, but before I could, he displayed what I though was some kind of seizer. His head was moving all over and his eyes were darting - at first I though he was just following a light or something and was just intent on it. But then it was almost like he couldn't stop. I held his head and his eyes were just darting. It was so scary - I rushed him to the emergecy vet. They diagnosed him with a polyp. And said he needed a Complete Ear Canal Ablation 2500.00-3000.00. I freaked because I don't have this kind of money. So we left and I cried all the way home. It was 140.00 for this visit. The next day I called the rescue where I got him and explained everything. She was so nice and advised me to go to her vet and even paid for the visit. The new vet said yes it is a polyp but also a possible tumor. The outlook is not good. But she offered some meds to see if they swelling would go down enough to see better. And give us additional information/options about his condition. He is losing his balence now and hanging his head to one side. Everything is happening so fast, I feel like I'm just watching him decline. I'm so sad. I never heard of this condition before, and the outlook looks so grim. No matter what it is so expensive, and very painful for these cats it happens too. I won't have more information until Monday, his follow up appointment. But I have a prayer chain going - I'm begging for prayers to shrink his tumor. He will be one at the end of this month. He is so young, and we havent had much time with him. I hope that someday this is a cure for this condition that doesnt involve surgery. Or maybe prevents this condition all together. I can't even sleep thinking about this....

Ear Tumors Average Cost

From 490 quotes ranging from $200 - $6,000

Average Cost

$4,000

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