or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › Ear Amputation? Any advice???
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Ear Amputation? Any advice???

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi guys, I just signed up yesterday. So far, I'm amazed by the site and the super nice posters.

I looked around a little bit, and I didn't find anything about this particular issue. It's ear amputation.

Milo is my 9 year-old, male, neutered, DSH, grey tabby. He's a joy, and so affectionate (He howls and "talks" like a Siamese, lol). Milo is outside 65% of time in the summer, 35% of the time in the winter. I've tried to make him an indoor cat, but he is not happy inside. He has hung on windows until his weight opens them from the top (when I forget to lock them), and then he's been known to rip through screens to get out. I've come to accept that this is who he is, and I have to deal with the accompanying health risks that come with being outside.

One of those risks is constant ear mite infection. I've tried to keep up with that (as we usually have at least 3-5 other cats in our home, and I know that the mites are contageous). Between the mites and a few injuries, Milo's ears are a mess. They are a mass of scar tissue and they look rather squashed and deformed.

As a result, he gets some pretty ugly infections in his ears. Tiny scratches become abcessed, and the infections are becoming more stubborn and now usually require drainage and antibiotics. When this began about three years ago, I asked my vet about ear amputation. She was immediately defensive, saying that Milo would be vulnerable to all kinds of falling objects that would end up in his ears. OK. I accepted that. We've probably dealt with fifteen subsequent infections since that day three years ago. The last infection, about two weeks ago, could not be cured with Animax (which I have at home) and intense cleaning of the wounds. He also seemed to be hiding a lot, choosing to stay inside. He seemed to get sicker and sicker, hiding under the bed for twelve hours at a time until I could locate him and pull him out. I realized this one may be out of my league, and I called the vet on Wednesday morning and asked for an emergency appointment. Unfortunately, it was the doc's day off, so the best they could offer was first thing on Thursday. I took it.

By Wednesday night, I could no longer find Milo. But I went upstairs and followed the odor - yes, the infections get that bad.

When I pulled him out from under a bed, I had a sickening feeling that he was systemically ill. I put him in a cat carrier at 12:00 midnight, and drove to the emergency vet. That vet examined him, his temperature was about 103.7. He was given a morphine injection for pain, and some kind of sedative that put him out. Then they lanced the infection, drained it, and put him in a collar. They gave him an antibiotic injection, and gave me more antibiotics to take home.

The emergency vet wanted to know what definitive treatment my regular vet had proposed. I told him that she preferred to handle the infections as they arose. He said that Milo's ears are now structurally non-functional (although he can hear). Actually, he said that they are little more than a source of pain and dangerous infection. The infections will be a greater health risk as he continues to age. In a nutshell, he said that if Milo was his cat, he would amputate his ears. When I mentioned the objects falling into his ears without the protection of the ear structure, he made a good point. He said, "If something fell in there now, you'd never get to it". He also noticed a small, hard, dark, circular object inside the ear. I had noticed it too. I thought it was a tiny pebble that had gotten stuck under the skin during the healing process. The vet said that the body would have rejected a foreign object. He believes it is a melanoma (a cancer), and that would be another reason to strongly consider the amputation.

The only risk, he claims, in amputation is the bleeding involved as the ears are a highly vascular area. I can't stand seeing this cat deal with these horrendous infections, and I am leaning towards the amputation.

Is anyone familiar with this procedure. Results? Pros? Cons? Opinions? Thank you so much for taking the time to read this lengthy post.
post #2 of 8
Hi CatKeeper,
First, Welcome to TCS!
Really sorry to hear about your Milo.

I don't have any knowledge in that area, so consequently no advice. In no time though, I'm sure others with much knowledge and experience will be able to bring up some good points and suggestions.

Good luck with Milo!
post #3 of 8
Welcome to TCS!

Although generally I would say the combined membership here has expertise on nearly every topic, I think (and of course, I may be wrong) you may be about to become our ear amputation expert.

There are two threads (that I know of) in the Health forum on leg amputation:

Jcribbs 'Broken Hip' thread and my own 'Leg Amputation: what to expect'

These won't give you any preparation for the medical side of things in your case, but they will help a little with the emotional side of things.

My advice is to go back to your regular vet, explain everything you know and that the ER vet told you, and get her current assessment of the situation. You don't have to agree, just listen. Think about what she says, about what the ER vet said, and then, possibly, ask a friend (who adores their vet) for their vet's details and get another opinion.

Make sure you understand not just the pros and cons as a general list of possible problems, but also exactly what the after amputation experience will be like, and the exact process for care is.

Then, if you think that the amputation is the best option for your cat, find a good vet - whether that's your regular vet or another vet - who is both willing and able to do it.
post #4 of 8
Originally Posted by Satai
Although generally I would say the combined membership here has expertise on nearly every topic, I think (and of course, I may be wrong) you may be about to become our ear amputation expert.
That was my thought when I read your post. I've never seen this topic brought up here before.

I will add that you may want to find a cat specialist to assess his situation. It really sounds out of the ordinary and a regular vet may not be prepared to deal with the surgery if it comes to that.

Please keep us up on Milo. I will be sending positive vibes your way.
post #5 of 8
I can't say I know much about this but-

We've done a few amputations. The most recent the cat has pollups in his ears, leading to constant ear infections, the one ear was the worste, so they amputated it, but it kept getting infected, so they finally had to close it completely, but due to the pollups and constant infection the cat can't really hear anyway.

We have another cat that had both ears amputated and he does fine. I think it's more in your cats interest to have the ears amputated rather than leave him in a constant state of infection, especially since the ears aren't doing anything anyway. Both of the cats I have seen had a great recovery and are doing fine now, I think your cat would be fine as well.

I feel your cat being healthy and happy outweighs any "risk" of getting stuff in his ear [which has happened before with the pebble, and his ears are intact!]

Definitley keep us updated, if you do the procedure etc. You gotta love our "special" kitties!
post #6 of 8
I know nothing about ear amputations, but I wish you all the best with it!
post #7 of 8
Can the ER vet give you a referral, or is he willing to operate himself? I don't have any personal experience with ear amputations, but have seen a few cats, including a friend's, whose ears have been amputated due to skin cancer.
I wish Milo all the best. One childhood pet, a Beagle, had chronic ear infections for over a decade, had his ears surgically drained a number of times, and was PTS at age 12 when his body could no longer fight the infections. I often wonder now why his hound dog ears weren't cropped to prevent recurrences.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who took the time to consider my situation with Milo.

Thanks to those of you who offered some sound advice, and a special thanks to those of you who offered support and concern.

It looks like I'll probably end up going ahead with the surgery, although it will take me a little time to put the money aside for it. I will keep you updated though. If and when he has the surgery, I'll give you guys a complete report, including updates.

BTW - one of the posters mentioned polyps in the ear as a reason for chronic infection. To be honest, I never fully agreed with the vet's original assertion that ear mites had caused this type of structural damage (since she was guessing when she said it). I've always thought the problem was something underlying.

Well, thanks again and I will keep you updated. With six cats, I'll be all over the place on this site, lol!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Health
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › Ear Amputation? Any advice???