I have a cat that is exhibiting some irregular breathing and I suspect that it is a pharyngeal polyps. In order to confirm this I need to look behind the soft palate. How can I do this?

PS My cat is very well behaved, trusts me and is compliant, so opening his mouth is not a problem. I clean his teeth regularly and he likes it. I need to know the technique for retracting the soft palette.

(please don't write "take him to the vet"; I know that; that is not the question; the question is: how can I examine behind the soft palate of a cat)

  • I doubt it's possible without anaesthetic.
    – keshlam
    Jan 20 '17 at 2:30
  • @keshlam retraction of the soft palate is not painful Jan 20 '17 at 5:17
  • 4
    Pain isn't the question. It's hard enough to get a cat to open its mouth so you can feed it a pill. Keeping the mouth open long enough to examine the back of the throat, without traumatizing the critter... A vet, with lots of experience, might be able to get away with it occasionally. Besides, even if you succeed, what can you do with the info except tell a vet?
    – keshlam
    Jan 20 '17 at 7:03
  • "Besides, even if you succeed, what can you do besides tell a vet?" Who will have to do the same exam AGAIN, adding to the trauma.
    – M.Mat
    Feb 20 '17 at 16:36

I had a cat who had a deformity in his soft palate. The veterinarian did the exam under anesthesia, and this cat was exceptionally calm and allowed all sorts of poking and prodding without complaint.

As an example for how calm and compliant this cat was, I once had him on his back to clip his claws and accidentally cut the quick. He stayed on the floor on his back while I ran to the kitchen to get flour to stop the bleeding. I could do ANYTHING to this cat.

If a vet had to sedate this cat to examine his soft palate, I would be surprised if any cat would allow you to retract their soft palate to examine behind it.


I had an ill cat and my vet told me how to do it, but it's a bit dangerous because the cat must be very well-behaved. If he's not, wrap his body in a towel so he won't scratch you.

First be sure your nails are short so you don't hurt the cat. Then you will use two fingers: your thumb and your index (I prefer my middle because my hand is small). Put your thumb on the right side of this mouth and the other finger on the left side, aproximately behind his canines. Then you have to press down gently but steady and his mouth will eventually open. He will try to resist so when he opens a bit I use my other hand to help.

If your cat has breathing problems maybe its a bit problematic to do it by yourself, he will stress out for sure while you practice. I hope it helps, good luck.

  • I have no problem opening his mouth. The problem is retracting the soft palate. Feb 20 '17 at 17:10

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