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What are Enlarging Nasal Openings?

Surgery to enlarge the nasal openings in cats is performed when stenotic snares are present. Stenotic snares are pinched or narrow nostrils that occur in certain breeds of cats, referred to as brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic breeds include Persians, Burmese, Himalayan and some exotic shorthair cats. These breeds are characterized by flat faces with short noses and are susceptible to brachycephalic airway syndrome, which can be characterized by several abnormalities in the upper respiratory tract including stenotic snares, which limit the passage of air into the respiratory system through the nostrils.

If your cat has nostrils that are limiting air passage, resulting in mouth breathing, snoring, or other respiratory difficulties, the nasal openings can be surgically enlarged by removing a wedge of tissue from your cat's nostrils to increase the amount of airflow through the nostrils and improve your cat's breathing. This surgery can be performed using traditional or laser surgery. Both surgeries require a certified, experienced veterinary surgeon. Laser surgery especially requires a veterinary surgeon with experience in this procedure as laser surgery performed incorrectly in this area can worsen the situation. 

Enlarging Nasal Openings Procedure in Cats

This surgical procedure requires that your cat be put under general anaesthetic. Prior to general anesthesia you will be required to fast your cat from food and a physical examination will be performed to ensure their overall health prior to administration of anesthesia. Your cat will be sedated, administered intravenous anesthesia, and then intubated with a esophageal tube to maintain anesthesia through anesthetic gasses. 

Your cat's fur around the nose will be shaved off, the area cleaned antiseptically and surgical drapes used to maintain a sterile surgical area. 

The veterinary surgeon will make two incisions on each side of your cat’s nose and remove a crescent shaped wedge of skin at the opening of the nostril to allow passage of adequate air. If required, tissue extending down into the nasal passage may also be removed. Dissolving sutures will then be used along the incision, which will close off the incision and will pull nostrils up and out, also widening nostrils to open the airway. 

Laser surgery can also be used to perform this surgery and does not require sutures, but does require specialized equipment and expertise by your veterinarian to ensure success.

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Efficacy of Enlarging Nasal Openings in Cats

Enlarging of the nasal openings is achieved immediately after surgery. Your cat's nostrils will be larger and the nasal passage will allow for better airflow. Your cat will immediately experience improved breathing and quality of life. 

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Enlarging Nasal Openings Recovery in Cats

Recovery is usually quite straightforward and your cat will be able to breath better. If traditional surgical techniques and sutures were required, your cat will need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from interfering with the surgical incision and stitches. If laser surgery was performed, no sutures are required and this is less of a concern. If swelling occurs at the surgical site, a nasotracheal catheter may need to be inserted and oxygen therapy provided immediately post-surgery to aid your cat with oxygen intake. Cage rest for a few days post surgery is recommended, otherwise, recovery should be relatively quick. Your veterinarian may recommend follow-up to ensure healing is progressing.

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Cost of Enlarging Nasal Openings in Cats

Depending on the cost of living at your location, surgery to enlarge your cat's nasal openings can range from $200 to $1,000. The surgery will provide immediate relief for your cat's breathing problems and make him or her a much healthier cat long-term. 

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Cat Enlarging Nasal Openings Considerations

If laser surgery complications occur it can result in further narrowing or your cat's nasal structures, resulting in severe breathing difficulties. An experienced laser surgeon will be able to mitigate this risk. Traditional surgery techniques are not associated with this risk, however, require you ensure your cat does not interfere with stitches. As with any surgery, anesthesia presents a certain risk which can be mitigated by ensuring your cat is healthy and fasts prior to administration of anesthetic.

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Enlarging Nasal Openings Prevention in Cats

Obesity worsens breathing concerns in brachycephalic cat breeds. Ensuring your cat has a well-balanced diet and plenty of exercise to control their weight will improve their breathing, and decrease the likelihood of requiring surgical intervention.

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Enlarging Nasal Openings Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Dobby

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Sphynx

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Breathing Difficulty
Snoring
Hard Time Breathing
Weezing

SO I have a sphynx and he has had multiple respiratory infections that have been pretty scary bringing his temperature to extremes, him needing multiple medications and IV's and antibiotics given to him thru the IV. It has now been a year since he was last sick but he continues to sneeze a lot and will have a hard time breathing at times. When he sleeps I sometimes feel like I am sleeping with a person because his snoring gets so loud! But its a snore as if there is something stuck in his nasal passage? I am just very worried about my "child", and want him to live as comfortably as possible. Especially since he loves walking outside on a leash and going on trips in the car but have noticed that sometimes he ends up snoring worse after spending time outside. Also noticed sometimes when hes having a hard time breathing he starts wheezing as if he has a hair ball (which of course isn't normal since he is a hairless cat). Does enlarging nasal openings in sphynxs work? I am asking because they have such small little noses. Also curious do they suffer any pain?

Sept. 7, 2018

Dobby's Owner

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Bonnie

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Persian mix

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sneeze Wheeze Cough Runny Eyes Nose

I had sent my Bonnie to be fixed and while away a small group of barn kittens with an illness were let in and Bonnie caught it. I almost lost her. Had to keep her in the bathroom with steam, feed around the clock and water by hand, and multiple trips to vet with several shots and oral meds. Ever since then (since she got better) she has had wheezing, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, watery eyes that are often of a brown color, as well as the stuff that comes out, and runny nose. She has cleared a vet exam several times (been almost 3 years) and the vet says it's due to her having a flat and short nose. Is any of these surgeries listed a way I can help her? Thank you.

Jan. 30, 2018

Bonnie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without examining Bonnie, I'm not sure that I can comment on her anatomy, but some brachycephalic cats will benefit from having the openings to their nasal passages surgically widened. It would be best to follow up with your veterinarian to see if she would benefit from that surgery, as they can examine her and assess what her nose looks like. I hope that she does well.

Jan. 30, 2018

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Abbey

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Calico

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14 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Breathing Difficulty
Stuffy Nose

My cat has a non spreading nasal cancer which my vet has removed 2x in 2 years. So far so good 6 months after the second removal. The problem is her nostril keeps healing shut at the tip of her nose. My vet inserted a tube with stitches and kept it in for 5 weeks til she scratched it out. Why can't we keep her nostril open on her left side?

Jan. 27, 2018

Abbey's Owner

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0 Recommendations

The body doesn’t like holes (non-anatomical holes) and since the real margins of the nostrils would have been removed with a previous surgery the body (skin) would be trying to fill in the gaps by sealing the nostril shut. Apart from placing a tube, I cannot think of anything else which can be done to keep the nostril open. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 27, 2018

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Leelu

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Persian

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2 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

Breathing Difficulty

Hi my persian has had 2 laser surgeries for her stenotic snares but once again her symptoms have returned. It looks like her hair grows back and is partially blocking her nasal openings. I dont want to keep putting her under anesthesia due to the risks. Is there anything else recommended? Thank you Laura

Dec. 5, 2017

Leelu's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Laser surgery is being more common for the treatment of stenotic nares, however in some cases other techniques like punch resection alaplasty may be used to increase the size of the nares; this should be discussed with your Veterinarian to determine if this is an appropriate alternative for Leelu or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 5, 2017

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Peaches

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Scottish Fold

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5

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing
Snoring
Congestion
Exercise Intolerence

I had my cat's stenotic nares enlarged using the wedge resection method. The cat did well for about 2 weeks and then the noisy breathing, exercise intolerance and high pitched noises returned. I informed the surgeon of this at the follow up and she told me to monitor the cat. A few months later, I took the cat to a different veterinarian because of her breathing and congestion getting worse. I was told that by that doctor that the cat would need surgery AGAIN. So, I went and saw two other veterinarians who do the laser surgery. They both said that she needed the surgery again and offered to do it. I chose one and got the surgery done. A lot of tissue was removed. I think the first surgeon did not remove enough tissue and all three veterinarians agree. I am trying to get a refund from the first surgeon. Have you ever heard of anybody getting a refund if three other doctors thought that the original surgery was not adequate? My cat had to endure pain twice and I had to pay twice. Thanks for your advice.

Oct. 5, 2017

Peaches' Owner

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2 Recommendations

If you believe that your original Veterinarian did not perform the surgery correctly then I would strongly advise you requesting Peaches’ medical records from all the Veterinarians that have dealt with her including the original Veterinarian who performed the surgery and contact your Veterinary State Licensing Board; you can ask for the medical files as they pertain to your pet. I would first approach the Veterinary State Licensing Board and ask their advice on getting a refund etc… as laws vary between states and countries. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 5, 2017

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Phoenix

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long haired blue

dog-age-icon

Three Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing
Upper Respiratory Track Blockage

My cat came to me as a stray kitten. He has always had a nasal breathing problem. My vet said his lungs are fine. He snores all the time, not just when he is asleep. He is a long haired blue type, but does not have a shortened nose. I am scared to cause him any more problems in his life. He is a very timid cat and usually ends up diving up my jumper, or down my front to hide at the vets. The idea of leaving him for an op seems cruel. I am just not sure if it would not be better to leave him as he is. He is three. We walk down the fields together regularly and he has a gentle quiet existence with me and two young rescues that came our way last year. Does he really need surgery? Does the snoring noise really matter? I am in France and vet discussions are not easy for me, though I do speak French.

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Heimerdinger

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Scottish Fold

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bleeding
Wound

My vet said that we had to operate to enlarge Heimerdinger's nostrils cause he was already snoring while awake and that since he was prone to have heart disease it would avoid him not having enough oxygen. The surgery was performed on 05-Sep-2018. I was supposed to clean the scabs which the vet failed to show me how to. 2 weeks later one of his nostrils was completely blocked. The vet said that she didn't want to put stitches to hold them cause she wanted to avoid him wearing an E-Collar for 2 weeks. The surgery was performed again & she showed me how to clean the scabs. But shoving a wet Q-tip into each nostril until it bleeds. The problem persists until today. If I skip cleaning his nostrils with wet Q-tips for 1 day it starts healing but by closing! The snoring is worse & he is gasping for air & lost 400g since the surgery. I no longer trust this vet & she is supposed to be the best in my country. There are only 2 other vets in my country one doesn't do this kind of surgery & the other killed 1 of my cats by administring the wrong meds. I have some experience in wounds dressing, subcutaneous & intramuscular injections, administring any kind of meds by mouth... etc. Please help cause my vet clearly has no idea what she is doing!

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