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Kitten Loses Her Voice

June 28, 2010
x-ray of abscess in kitten's voice box

10-Week Old Kitten with Lump on Neck

“I just noticed a lump on June’s neck on the left side below her chin.  Last night, it was bigger and she was sleepy and didn’t want to eat dinner.   Today the bump is smaller and she looks brighter, but she can’t meow anymore,” said June the Kitten’s worried mom.  “What is going on?”

Black, green-eyed short haired kitten looks worried at the camera!

"Are you going to help me, doctor?"

June was a ten-week-old female black short-haired kitten with green eyes and a lump on her neck underneath the left side of her chin.  A small, ragged 1 cm (1/2 inch) hole in the center of the lumpy area looked red and raw.

The Initial Diagnostics…

“First, we’re going to shave over the area to remove the fur, clean the wound, and get a good look at the problem,” said Doc Truli.

June sat still for her shaving and cleaning.  When the nurses finished with her, she looked a bit unpretty!

A centimeter rent in the skin on the neck over the firm swelling of the muscles where an infection was brewing.

The red arrow points to the epicenter of an abscess from the night before.

“Has June ever gone outside?”


“Do you have other pets she could have fought or played rough with?”



Okay, VirtuaVet admits, sometimes we’ll just never know what happened!

Further Diagnostics for a Suspicious Neck Bump

“I’m very suspicious in your situation that June may have swallowed something she ought not to have, we should take throat x-rays and do a complete blood count, looking at the proportions and types of immune cells in her blood,” said Doc Truli.

The complete blood count (“CBC”) showed an elevated white blood cell count.

White blood cells are immune system cells that fight infection and travel to the areas of injury or disease and try to clean up the problem.  It’s normal for white blood cells, like neutrophils, to travel to the site of skin infection and kamikaze themselves by rupturing open and pouring their toxic cell contents all over the invading bacteria.  The neutrophils’ little microscopic dead bodies make up pus.  Yep, that’s what pus actually is! (If you go to med school you learn all sorts of cool stuff…)

A swollen area around this kittens voice box with no signs of a foreign object to cause the swelling

Red arrow=swelling. Blue arrow=trachea airway open and ready for breathing!

A radiograph (“X-Ray”) showed a swollen area (red arrow) under the skin just at the level of the voice box (“larynx”).  The black arrow in the accompanying picture points to the airway, also called the trachea (pronounced tray key ah in the US and tra kee uh in countries influenced by HRH-you know who you are!).  June’s little kitten airway was fine, she could breathe perfectly well.

A feline leukemia virus test turned up negative for the virus.  While kittens can have a false negative test result for 30-60 days after infection, it’s a good sign that June should be able to fight off the infection.


Some wound cleaning, antibiotics, topical antibiotics, and instructions for a very light neck bandage to be replaced by mum every -oh, perhaps 10 minutes, when June decided to scratch it off, and this little kitten’s going to be just fine!

P.S. If the hole left by the exploding pus from the abscess had been greater than 1-2 cm across, then surgery to close the hole and bring the skin edges together would probably have been a better idea than leaving the wound to heal on its own!

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