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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 28551
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My cat has a hard, pointy lump on her skin underneath the

Resolved Question:

My cat has a hard, pointy lump on her skin underneath the fur behind her ear. It is approx 0.5cm in size and has a small scab on it. It seems possibly slightly larger than when I first noticed it a week or so ago. She is a long haired cat aged 2 who recently changed from being an indoor to outdoor cat. She doesn't have fleas though (I've checked, and she was treated recently) and is otherwise perfectly fine. She protests mildly if I try to examine the bump but otherwise it doesn't seem to be bothering her, although she does scratch her head and ears a fair amount, but not in this area specifically.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Can you upload a photo(s) of this pointy lump to our conversation? You can use the paperclip icon in the toolbar above your message box (if you can see the icon) or you can use an external app such as I can be more accurate for you if I can see what you're seeing. My initial thought was a cutaneous horn.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm sorry, it's almost impossible because she won't keep still and I can't get the camera to focus close enough while simultaneously keeping the fur out of the way for you to see. It's more by feel. I'm attaching a picture but it's not very clear I'm afraid and is taken from above, so all you see is the apex, with the scab. The whole thing sticks up from the skin in a point, like a mountain, but I couldn't manage to get a pic from the right angle to show it.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I understand. It's much too dark a photo to be diagnostic. Cutaneous horns can vary in appearance but all are circumscribed, conical or cylindrical masses of keratin that may originate from underlying actinic keratosis, squamous cell carcinoma, papilloma, or a diated pore. They're benign and of little consequence and can be easily excised if my patient or caretaker is bothered by it. Please see here for images of cutaneous horns in cats and let me know if you think Lily's lump indicates a horn:

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hard to tell as it's still very small compared to these images, though as I mentioned it does appear to be growing. Also it us darkish in colour and not bony as such, but I suppose it could be the very beginnings of something like this. Why would it have a scab (a fairly fresh one, easily made to bleed again when I just touched it with my thumbnail)? Just from her scratching it? What should I watch out for, if anything, while monitoring it? Anything to suggest it could be more serious or require attention? Thanks.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I wouldn't expect a horn to scab unless it had just poked through the skin and the skin is trying to heal over it. I don't know the significance of it being dark; I regret that I'm constrained from here to be more accurate for you. In general, any skin lesion that enlarges at an alarming rate, bothers my patient or caretaker, and/or ulcerates/bleeds should be excised. At that point, a vet can then advise if biopsy is indicated or not. Biopsy would be necessary for a definitive diagnosis but a definitive diagnosis isn't necessarily important when surgical resection is complete.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you define 'alarming rate' please? If the scab heals and it seems no bigger in a week or two, should I leave it for now and monitor it for a little longer? Or would it be better to get it removed sooner just in case?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Doubling in size within a month would alarm me. There's no urgency here. A young cat is very unlikely to develop anything so serious that would preclude a few weeks of "watchful waiting".

Dr. Michael Salkin and other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thanks very much.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

You're quite welcome. Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.