Elderly cat Gary's ear troubles

With the sun beating down and the ultraviolet index being at high levels throughout summer it is important to think about protecting your cat's skin in order to prevent skin cancer from developing. The most common form seen on a cat's skin are a type of skin cancer called 'squamous cell carcinomas'. These most commonly develop on the unpigmented or white areas of the skin especially on the nose and the ears. Cats that are white or have white points are at a much higher risk of developing these cancers. They tend to be slow growing with the tumour spreading around the body occurring late in the progression, but they do ulcerate and become uncomfortable. Large growths can be very difficult to completely remove with good margins, so we recommend prompt treatment of small lesions. Treatment may involve cryosurgery where the lesion is frozen with liquid nitrogen to destroy the cancerous cells or surgical removal both of which need to be done under a general anaesthetic.

Gary is one of our elderly cats at the clinic who has been regularly coming in for senior checks. He is a 13-year-old domestic medium haired cat who has high blood pressure well managed by medication as well as early stage kidney disease. His owners had noticed that he was getting some black spots on the tips of his ears and were concerned when one of them began to bleed and become much larger. The lesion was most likely either pre-cancerous or cancerous so removal would be preferable now while it was still small and while Gary was still relatively healthy. Gary was booked in to have ear surgery.

The day before his procedure Gary was admitted to hospital and placed on intravenous fluids as a protective measure for his kidneys. This ensured that he was well hydrated and would be in the best condition to have a general anaesthetic. His surgery was completed and sutures were placed. A very close eye was kept on his blood pressure throughout surgery with regular checks being made. He went home with an elizabethan collar to ensure he did not scratch at his ear and pull out the stitches. He was also prescribed some pain relief medication to ensure he was comfortable after his surgery.

A few days after his surgery, Gary was in having his post-operative check. His owners felt he was quite flat, not interested in food and in general not doing as well as they would have liked. The vet found that Gary had become quite dehydrated as a result of his lack of appetite and was admitted for further fluids and an appetite stimulant to get him eating again. Gary made a rapid recovery in hospital, but was very pleased to go home. He has been doing really well after his surgery, and his owners are happy that the tumour has been removed with big margins and is unlikely to be a problem in the future.

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