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Cancer in Cats: Types, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Cancer in Cats: Types, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

Posted by AdKitan AdKitan on Updated at: June 18, 2020

Reading Time:

 Just as many people are met with a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lives, cats face cancer too. 

While a very high percentage of diagnosed cancer patients go on to fight the disease and survive for many years in remission, cancer tends to be more fatal for our feline friends, especially those that are considered to be elderly cats. 

Still, the amount of research that has been dedicated to cat cancer research has skyrocketed over the years, and now, there are many treatment options available for cats with cancer. Though a cure for all types of cancer has yet to be discovered, there are plenty of ways to improve the quality of life of your cats while they undergo tests and treatment for their cancer. 

Cat cancer can cause pet owners a great deal of stress, but the key to productively handling a cat cancer diagnosis is to look into information surrounding the disease in cats. There is a lot to consider, including the literal nature of the treatment options you decide to go with because some treatment options are all natural whereas others are more so based on artificial factors.

But before we talk about the treatment options for feline cancer, it’s important to go over the various types of cat cancer out there. We’ll follow the discussion of cat cancer types with information regarding the symptoms of feline cancer. 

After talking about the treatment options for feline cancer, allow us to give you insight and advice regarding which cat cancer treatment option is most suitable for your cat! 

Types of Cancers in Cats

Types of Cancers in Cats

Though cancer is debilitating and terrifying no matter the type of cancer being discussed, it is still important to have a firm understanding of the type your cat has. Cats are susceptible to more than one type of cancer, and narrowing down the type of cancer your cat has is a job for the professionals. 

Even so, pet owners should familiarize themselves with every type of cancer cats are prone to getting, just for the sake of being well informed. Soft-tissue sarcoma, lymphoma, and squamous cell carcinoma are the three types of cancers most seen in cats. That being said, they are not the only three types of cancer that threaten the lives of our furry feline friends. 

The types of cancer in cats include:

  • Lymphoma 
  • Oral squamous cell carcinoma 
  • Fibrosarcoma 
  • Soft-tissue sarcoma
  • Leukemia 
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer 
  • Squamous cell carcinoma 
  • Bone cancer 
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Skin cancer 

 

Soft-Tissue Sarcoma 

Soft-tissue sarcoma is cancer of the internal tissues that sit between the joints and bones of your cat's body. This type of cancer makes it difficult for your cats to move around as usual because it directly impacts the joints, bones, tissues, tendons, and nerve endings of your feline friends.

Lymphoma and Leukemia

Lymphoma is one of two main blood cancers that cats face, the other type being leukemia. Both lymphoma and leukemia are caused by a retrovirus by the name of the feline leukemia virus. 

Called FeLV for short, the feline leukemia virus is the cause of both lymphoma and leukemia. The two blood cancers are transmitted very easily from one cat to the next, which makes the virus very easy to transmit among large groups of cats. 

Skin Cancer 

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer in cats. Squamous cell carcinoma is caused by overexposure to heat, sunlight, or radiation in general. This type of cat cancer is usually spotted in parts of the body that receive extensive exposure to light. 

Mast cell tumors are another example of skin cancer in cats. They typically present as one main tumor rather than a few smaller ones, and mast cell tumors can also appear internally within the walls of various organs. 

Symptoms and Signs of Cancer in Cats

There are many warning signs of cancer, and if you know how to spot them, you’ll be quicker to seek out a diagnosis for your cat. The sooner, the better! 

The symptoms of cat cancer include:

  • Weight loss 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Inability to urinate 
  • Trouble using the litter box 
  • Constipation or diarrhea 
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Unrecognized discharge 
  • Sores anywhere on the body

As you can see, the warning signs in cats are tied into one another. Weight loss is a consequence of the decreased appetite. And a smaller appetite can be caused by a backed-up bowel system. Speaking of bowels, the symptom of unexplained bleeding ties into the entire theme of having trouble using the litter box. 

 

What Are the Typical Options for Cancer in Cats? 

There are many treatment options for cats with cancer because cancer treatment is not a one-size-fits-all ordeal. Instead, professionals keep the treatment options open in order to find the best method of treating each individual case of feline cancer. If cat cancer is something your furry friend is facing, there are many treatment options to help them heal and be more comfortable throughout the process.

The typical options for treating cancer in cats are… 

  • Oral medications
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgical intervention
  • Pain management

Oral Medications 

There are two incredibly common options for oral medications intended to treat cat cancer. Known as chlorambucil and prednisolone, these two medications are taken by way of the mouth. They are easy to administer and the process is incredibly speedy, leaving your cat with a quick and painless treatment method for cancer. 

CBD Oil for Cats with Cancer

Chemotherapy

You've likely heard of chemotherapy as a cancer treatment option before because it's often part of the treatment plan for adults with cancer, too. Chemotherapy is one of those treatment options that causes adverse side effects, which is where CBD oil for feline cancer patients comes into the picture.

From nausea and dizziness, to a decrease in appetite and a spark of extreme dehydration, chemotherapy takes quite the toll on the body of a cat. If you are concerned about how your cat is feeling as a result of the unfavorable symptoms, consider looking at the CBD products offered by Innovet! 

Radiation Therapy 

Radiation therapy is like an additional precautionary measure taken to ensure that the cancer chemotherapy worked so hard to get rid of actually stays gone. Radiation therapy causes cats to endure a lot of physical stress, particularly because their bodies are not used to such an aggressive presence of radiation. 

Since radiation is like a second layer of extreme cancer treatment, it is often not prescribed to cats that are either very young or very old. Not all cats are capable of experiencing radiation without being seriously exhausted to the point of concern, so make sure you and your vet talk about the risks of this procedure before agreeing to include it in your cat's cancer treatment plan.

Surgical Intervention

Sometimes, working to fight and eliminate cancerous cells cannot be successfully completed from outside of the body. In these instances, professionals will let you know that a surgical removal of the mast cell tumors is a better treatment option for your cat with cancer. 

Cases like this usually involve metastasis, meaning the cancer has spread beyond the point of origin and to other parts of the cat's body. When cancer spreads, it initially impacts the lymph nodes next, and from there, the lymph nodes will go on to pass along the cancerous cells to the rest of the body. In order to stop the spread of cancer, the mast cell tumor must be removed. 

The surgical intervention method of treatment is often followed in suit by chemotherapy as well as radiation, simply for the sake of taking extra precautions. You can think of it as a way for the vet to triple check the fact that the cancer has subsided completely. 

Pain Management 

Though the pain management aspect of feline cancer treatment is not quite as aggressive as the other treatment options, pain management is still an important part of treating cancer. See, cancer in cats is not necessarily the painful part of the entire situation. Instead, the treatment methods often make cats feel ill, so pain management is essential for keeping cats with cancer comfortable.

Pain management options tend to include… 

  • Corticosteroids
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs 
  • Prescription opioids 

How Do I Choose a Treatment for My Cat? 

Part of choosing a treatment for your cat is looking at which options will either improve your cat’s quality of life or, at the bare minimum, not lower your cat’s quality of life. There are many side effects to cancer treatment, and many of those cause more harm than good for your kitty cat.

For example, looking at the treatment options for feline cancer, radiation therapy is not the greatest idea for elderly cats with cancer. Exposing them to extensive radiation appointments would decrease their quality of life, and the goal is to keep the quality of life high, not make it lower. 

Choosing a treatment alone will make you feel a lot of pressure as a pet owner, so trust your cat’s veterinarian to help you choose the right treatment of cancer for your cat. Ask all of your questions and let the vet in on any concerns you may have. Communication is key when deciding on the best cancer treatment option for your pet! 

Resources:

Approved by:
Dr. Sara Ochoa
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.

 

Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. We Love You!

Sincerely,
The Innovet Team



Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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