Cancer in Cats
If your cat has a mass or seems not to be feeling good, this could be due to cancer. Just like with people as cats age, there is an increased risk for cancer in cats. While this is not the diagnosis that anyone wants to hear for their cat, there are some things that you can do to help your cat with cancer.
There are many different treatment options to help your cat live a long and healthy life, as well as supplements and over-the-counter supplements that you can give to your cat to help them feel much better.
Three Types of Cancer in Cats
There are many types and variations of cat cancer but there are three different types that are the most common cancer in cats.
- 2Soft-Tissue sarcoma, and
- 3Squamous cell carcinoma
Lymphoma is the most common cancer in cats out of these three.
This is commonly seen in cats who also have Feline Leukemia Virus (FELV). Cats can have lymphoma in any of the lymph nodes in their body. Lymphoma is commonly seen in the intestinal tracts causing vomiting and diarrhea. Depending on the location, severity, and treatment options will dictate the prognosis of lymphoma in cats. Your vet can discuss the prognosis with you.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma
Most soft tissue sarcomas are in the muscle or connected tissue of your cat. This can be associated with injection and is commonly called an injection site sarcoma. This cancer in cats can easily be surgically removed, and many cats will make a full recovery.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell carcinoma(SCC) is commonly seen in the mouth of cats.
Cats with SCC commonly are drooling, bleeding from their mouth, and not eating. Your vet can easily take tissues from your cat’s mouth to see if this is what is causing these signs in your cat. Usually, cats with SCC do have a poor prognosis due to the location and aggressiveness of the mass.
What are the signs of cancer in cats?
Many of the common signs of cancer in cats are very non-specific, meaning that they can resemble many other diseases.
Nevertheless, these are some of the symptoms of cancer in cats that you should be treating as a sign that something is wrong and needs veterinary attention:
If you are noticing any of these signs in your cat, it would be best for your cat to see your vet. They can examine your cat and run tests to see if cancer is present in your cat.
How does my vet know that my cat has cancer?
While sometimes your vet may not know that your cat for sure has cancer, they have many signs pointing to cancer symptoms in cats that they can look to diagnose. Your vet will want to run many different tests to check your cat for cancer.
These tests are:
Treatment for Cancer in Cats
If your cat does have cancer, there are a few different treatment options depending on the type of cancer, how much the cancer has spread, and your cat’s quality of life.
With many types of cancer in cats, your cat may need chemotherapy. This would usually be done at specialty hospitals, but some general practice vets can also do these treatments. Your cat would need blood work and IV injections or other medications given to them every week, just like people get when they receive chemotherapy.
Many cats with cancer tumors can have them surgically removed. If your cat has a mass growing on their skin, your vet can quickly and easily remove these masses. Some cats will have masses growing inside. Lymphoma commonly invades the intestinal tract. This can cause a blockage in your cat’s intestines. If your cat’s intestines are blocked, the only way to help your cat is to surgically remove part of their intestines and this mass.
Some types of cat cancer tumors cannot be removed and do not respond to chemotherapy. In these cases, your cat may be able to receive radiation treatment. This is most commonly done in tumors on the face. Your cat would have to go to a specialty center for radiation treatment.
If your cat has cancer all throughout their body and other treatment options are not an option due to other health conditions or finances, palliative care can help keep your cat comfortable.
How long will my cat with cancer live?
The prognosis of your cat with cancer will all depend on the type of cancer, if it has spread and how aggressively it is treated. Some cancers, no matter how aggressive you treat it, will continue to spread and have a very poor prognosis. Your vet can examine your cat and help you figure out the best treatment so that your cat can live as long and healthy a life as possible.
Final Thoughts on Cancer in Cats
While cancer in cats is never the diagnosis that anyone wants to hear for their cat, there are many different treatment options. Even if chemotherapy and radiation are not an option for your cat, they can still live a long and happy life with palliative care.
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