As cat owners, our only hope is that the pets we love so dearly are blessed with happy and healthy lives. From the time they are kittens to when they age into late adulthood, the goal is to keep our cats in as good condition as possible. However, sometimes, unforeseen circumstances arise, and they are often out of our control as well.
One of these unexpected instances is a diagnosis of feline lymphoma, a type of cancer. If your cat has the illness, the best thing to do is read up on information surrounding the blood-based illness, and understand how to move forward in order to help your cat overcome the disease.
Types & Symptoms of Lymphoma in Cats
Lymphoma is not the easiest disease to recognize in cats, especially given the way that sick cats often act as though everything is normal. Determining whether or not your cat has lymphoma will require a professional diagnosis.
Below is a list of symptoms that your cat might display if they have lymphoma. Please note that the list of side effects is very long and similar to those associated with other conditions, so contact your vet immediately if you suspect your cat is ill.
The common side effects include…
- Otherwise unexplained weight loss
- Reactive to being touched
- Lower bone density
- Disinterest in food or treats
- Constant vomiting after eating
- Unusual bathroom patterns
- Inability to make it to the litter box
- Excessively drinking water
- Dehydration despite increased water intake
- Random shortness of breath
- Little to no interest in playing
- Sleeping under beds or other hiding spots
- Withdrawing from people
- High fever that comes and goes
- Lumps in or near the abdominal region
- Bumps anywhere on the body
- Consistent scratching or licking
- Gnawing on a certain body part
- Sores in your cat's mouth
There are multiple different types of lymphoma in cats, but these types refer more to the location of the blood cancer, rather than identifying unique forms of the cancer. Most cases of the condition take place within the digestive tract, too.
The five main types include…
- Feline Mediastinal
Alimentary Lymphoma in Cats
Also known as gastrointestinal lymphoma, the alimentary form affects the gastrointestinal tract in cats. Both the liver and the stomach, as well as the intestines, make up the gastrointestinal tract. As such, alimentary lymphoma is also known as feline intestinal lymphoma.
Feline Mediastinal Lymphoma
The mediastinal form of the disease attacks lymph nodes in and around the lungs. There are gaps between the pleural sacs of your cat's immune system as well, and lymphoma can settle in these spaces, too.
A broader form of the disease than the other four types, multicentric lymphoma is a diagnosis that ends up being refined as vets understand the location of your cat’s cancer more clearly over time.
In cats, renal lymphoma is a form of blood cancer that exists inside of the kidneys. The renal form of the illness is especially dangerous because the kidneys exist to purify the blood and discard toxins, so cancer in the blood of organs that purify the blood is a very tricky scenario.
Solitary Feline Lymphoma
A polar opposite form compared to the multicentric type, solitary lymphoma is a term used to refer to any form that exists outside of the other four forms. In other words, the solitary form can be located anywhere in a cat's body, as long as blood is present.
Feline Leukemia vs Lymphoma: What’s the Difference?
When researching feline lymphoma, you might have found that leukemia is often discussed alongside it. The reason for this is the fact that feline leukemia, like lymphoma, is a type of cancer that infects the blood of cats.
More specifically, the two types of blood cancer tend to infiltrate the white blood cell of cats as opposed to the red. Even so, there are slight differences between lymphoma and the feline leukemia virus.
As a cancer of the blood, it is no surprise that leukemia negatively affects the blood of felines. But unlike lymphoma, the feline leukemia virus (FeLV), zeroes in on bone marrow as well. Leukemia results in the overproduction of abnormal cells to the point where your cat's system contains far more white blood cells than is considered healthy. This leads to an imbalance between red and white cells in the blood, resulting in cancer.
Lymphoma, as the name suggests, is a cancer that impacts the lymph nodes, which are a specific type of white blood cell. Like leukemia, lymphoma is a cancer of the blood.
How To Prevent Feline Lymphoma
Technically speaking, there is no surefire way to fully protect your cat from lymphoma because it can appear in very healthy cats, and blood cancer in cats can be transmitted via the FeLV. However, there are plenty of preventative measures you can take on behalf of your cat to reduce the likelihood that your cat will fall ill.
First and foremost, ensuring that your cat stays up-to-date with his or her vaccinations is key to preventing the disease. As mentioned, the virus is a threat to the health of your cat, especially in relation to cancer of the blood. By vaccinating your pet against the virus (FeLV), you can drastically lower the possibility of your cat being diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Additionally, keep an eye on the cats that your feline friend hangs out with, because the FeLV can be transferred from one animal to another. If your cat interacts with other cats that have the virus, your pet’s chances of falling sick with FeLV are heightened.
Also, catching and diagnosing the cancer as early as possible is a great way to prevent the exacerbation of the illness. The sooner your cat is diagnosed, the faster treatment can be administered. Cancer that is treated during the earlier stages is easier to fight than illnesses that have been left untreated for a long period of time, so reach out to the vet when you first notice signs of lymphoma or any illness in your pet.
The treatment plan for a cat with lymphoma will fully depend on the severity of the blood cancer, and your pet's medical history will be factored into the equation as well. Oftentimes, veterinary medicine will be prescribed to your cat, both for the sake of resolving current symptoms as well as preventing the recurrence of them. Cats with the disease often go through chemotherapy treatments, followed by radiation to prevent the growth of more cancer cells.
If your pet ever expresses signs of distress, you may want to consider administering low doses of CBD oil for the sake of supporting the normal healthy structure of the endocannabinoid system. At Innovet, we offer an array of CBD products that are feline-friendly, so take a look today! Your cat will surely appreciate the calming nature of CBD.
Approved by:Dr. Ivana VukasinovicDoctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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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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