CBD For Cats With Cancer
We all know to watch for potential signs of cat cancer, but we could miss many of them if we aren't familiar with the different types of cancer in cats. Cancer is much more varied than we normally realize, and the symptoms could seem innocent or mimic another less serious disease, making it easy for a cat owner to delay treatment. Some cat cancers have no symptoms, meaning the only way to protect your cat is to keep up with routine checkups, particularly if your cat is particularly prone to developing that kind of cancer.
Different Types of Cat Cancers
Cat cancers can be in an internal organ, on the skin, traveling through their lymphatic system, in their blood vessels, in their mouth, or in the bone. It can cause a lump, swelling, sores, rashes, odors, discharges, bleeding, and behavior changes.
Here are more details on the types of cat cancers that may surprise you.
Cat melanoma differs from human melanoma. It's unfortunately fast growing like our melanoma, but it can appear anywhere on their skin, even their paws, and it can be in their eyes and mouth. Thankfully, it is pretty rare, but because it grows so fast, you do want to be aware of the potential for it and get your cat to the vet as soon as you suspect it.
It may appear as a lump, a spot, a patch, or a raised area; singularly or in groups. In the eye, the first sign may be that the iris changes color or grows darker. There may be discharge from the eye.
Any cat is at risk of developing melanoma, but the more time they spend outside and the lighter their skin and fur, the more likely they are to get it.
Cats with lymphoma present few and vague symptoms, so it is hard to recognize it. This is bad because lymphoma spreads quickly, impacting a part of the body, the lymph system, which is made to send fluid throughout the body.
Symptoms of lymphoma in cats commonly include lethargy, lack of appetite, and weight loss. If the lymphoma is in the digestive system, digestive symptoms may present such as diarrhea and vomiting. Lymphoma in the lungs causes difficulty breathing.
Lymphoma can be caused by the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), there are other causes for this disease but these are two of the most common. There is a vaccination can protect your cat from FeLV but there is no current prevention for FIV. Do not use this blog as proof that your cat is safe if they have been vaccinated for these diseases. Consult your vet to ensure there is really no risk for your cat. Do be aware that scientific research has found that the risk of a cat developing Lymphoma doubles if it lives with a smoker.
Hemangiosarcoma is another rare cancer that it is still very wise to know about because early detection is critical to your cat's life expectancy. It is a cancer of the blood vessels and it can appear on the skin, under the skin, in internal organs, and in your cat's mouth. It is more likely to be present in the head. Sun and dangerous chemicals, such as may be found in cleaners and insecticides may cause Hemangiosarcoma. It can affect any cat at any age, but it is more likely to impact cats with lighter skin and hair, and is more likely to develop as the cat ages.
Symptoms of Hemangiosarcoma include, lethargy, loss of appetite, depression, and a possibly detectable lump or mass. External hemangiosarcoma may be dark blue or red.
Mast Cell Tumors
These tumors can occur outside or inside the cat's body and the symptoms differ depending on the location.
External mast cell tumors cause lumps that are hairless and small and firm. They often itch, and the cat may irritate them by scratching or gnawing at it. They can appear anywhere on the cat.
Internal mast cell tumors cause lethargy, decrease in appetite, vomiting, and weight loss.
Siamese cats are more prone to developing this type of cancer, but any cat can get it and the risk factor for all cats goes up after age 4.
Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer cats can get in any bone and even in their internal organs. It most commonly impacts their hind legs. The symptoms are likely to be swelling, lameness, lethargy, pain, lack of appetite, and decreased interest in physical activity. The pain may be significant.
If they get this cancer in their jaw, it can impact their ability to eat and they may create excess saliva.
Osteosarcoma in the brain causes neurological symptoms that may include seizures, wobbly legs, and more.
If this cancer grows in their ribs, it can impact their breathing.
Causes and risk factors are murky areas. Some vets claim there is a genetic link, but others are not sure. Some vets say larger breeds are more likely to get it. There is also a little evidence that the cancer may grow where the bone has been previously injured.
Mammary cancer in female cats often starts as a small lump and can easily impact multiple nipples. This could make it something people overlook, assuming it's benign.
Having a cat spayed reduces the chance of her developing the cancer, the earlier the less chance she has of getting it. Siamese cats have a greater risk of developing mammary cancer. Males can also develop it.
most testicular growths in cats are benign, but some can be cancerous. Neither kind are usually painful, but they can be.
Symptoms can impact the cat's whole body. The testicles may be swollen or different sizes from each other, they may develop different peeing habits, their entire skin may become redder, they may have pale gums, they may lose hair, they may start developing more female characteristics, and they may become unusually aggressive.
Sudden and/or alarming aggressive behavior is a common reason vets discover a cat has testicular cancer.
Neutering eliminates the chance that the cat can develop the disease, but it is not impossible.
Meningiomas are brain cancer. Symptoms can include seizures, visual impairment, discoordination, neck pain, back pain, and odd behaviors, like circling.
The chance of developing this cancer becomes greater as the cat ages and is more likely be seen after 9 years of age.
Odd Symptoms of Cancer in Cats
If your cat starts spending more time alone, particularly in a secluded, protected place, they are probably sick. This could be a symptom of many diseases, but cancer is included in that.
Any digestive symptom, diarrhea, vomiting, changed litter box use, that persists could be a sign of many types of cat cancer. Intermittent or short-lived symptoms are probably something else that isn't serious.
Sudden Increase in Appetite
A drastic change in appetite can be sign of various types of cancer in cats.
Weight Gain or Loss, Whether Unexplained or Explained
We often hear about unexplained weight loss as a sign of illness, but sometimes weight loss or gain can be explained by more or less eating or more or less exercise. The question then becomes, is the cat suddenly restless? What is causing the cat's sudden increase or decrease in appetite?
Overview of Cancer in Cats
You may have noticed that cat cancer symptoms are often vague. This means you want to take any fatigue or lethargy, behavior changes, or sudden changes in appetite very seriously. They could be the only sign you have that your cat has cancer and time could be of the essence.
How CBD Oil Helps with the Many Types of Cancer in Cats
No matter the type of cancer, CBD oil can help manage it, lessen the symptoms, or relieve the side effects of traditional treatments.
CBD stands for cannabidiol, which comes from marijuana and hemp. No, your cat will not be "high". Hemp-derived cannabidiol doesn't contain the psychoactive chemical, THC, that makes people get high from marijuana.
Scientific studies have shown that CBD benefits a wide variety of ailments and they are constantly finding evidence that it may help even more than they anticipated. It works because humans and cats have an endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors connected to vital organs all over the body, that plays a crucial role in the body functioning as it should. The body produces its own cannabinoids, but if it can't make enough or it needs a boost, external ones like the ones contained in hemp can help it do what it already does better.
CBD oil may helps cats with cancer by:
- decreasing inflammation
- managing pain
- potentially killing the cancer
- helping them maintain a healthy appetite
- managing nausea and vomiting
- keeping their energy at a healthy level
- reducing the frequency and severity of seizures
- preventing and treating infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungi
CBD oil is natural and poses virtually no side effects or risks, so it is becoming an increasingly popular as a primary or secondary treatment option. If cats can't use traditional treatments, CBD oil can be used as a natural alternative. It can also help cats manage side effects from traditional medications so they can continue using them.
Using CBD Oil
You'll start by choosing a CBD oil product.
There are several options to suit the needs of you and your cat:
- oil tinctures
- extract concentrates
Oil tinctures combine cannabidiol with a carrier oil, and often a flavoring, to make it easy and enjoyable to take. The taste of hemp may be unpleasant to many humans and cats. You can judge for yourself if you want to try unflavored or flavored for your cat. Some tinctures come with a dropper and some with a sprayer. Both allow the product to be delivered directly into the cat's mouth or into their food. The dropper provides the most control over the dose.
Extract concentrates also offer a lot of control. They are nothing but CBD oil, and the oil comes out in little beads that can be numbered to achieve the desired dose. The downside is that it can be more difficult to get your pet to take and there is nothing to mask the taste. You can mask it yourself by giving the oil in food.
Capsules are CBD oil made into a capsule, so the ingredients list will be a little longer. These are easier to give to a cat, particularly if they are already okay with taking the powdered substance from pills. Dosing consists of giving one pill or more in order to get the accurate mg's needed for your pet. Taste is not a consideration with capsules because they don't eat them.
Treats are made into both crunchy and chewy varieties to be similar to the treats your cat already likes. These make the easiest CBD oil delivery option because what cat doesn't like treats? Dosing consists of giving one or more treats, depending on the package directions.
Topicals help cats with external and localized ailments. If they have a sore or joint inflammation or pain, a lotion or other topical CBD oil product may be the best option for them.
Dosing CBD Oil
Treats and capsules have very specific CBD dosing information on their packages such as 1 per so and so pounds of cat or 1 for an adult cat.
Always start with the lowest dose possible and work up. You can't overdose the cat, except maybe to sedate them a little or give them a loss of appetite or diarrhea if you give them a great deal of CBD oil, but you don't want to run that risk and smaller doses are sometimes actually more effective than larger ones for some ailments. This is also the easiest way to find the right dose; it's easier to work up than down.
When changing doses, wait a few weeks, optimally, before changing. If you can't wait that long, try to put it off as long as possible. Some results are immediate, but others not all, and it can take a few weeks for the full effects of a dose to become apparent. You may subject you and your cat to needless frustration and not understand what the right dose is if you change too frequently. Only change if the cat's pain level or disease is too dire to wait, and consult a vet for dosing help.
Also, be aware that the correct dose varies by the cat's age, weight, health, and ailment. A very young, old, small, large, or sick cat will need a different dose than the average cat. Some ailments also have specific dosing requirements, so research those or talk to your cat's vet before choosing a dose.
Risks Associated with CBD Oil
There are few risks of using CBD oil.
CBD oil impacts how the cat's liver handles medications, so doses of prescribed medications may not work as expected. It is important to tell your cat's vet that they are taking CBD oil so they can dose accordingly.
Science is proving the dizzying amount of benefits CBD oil can provide, but traditional medications have been tried and tested a great deal more. They have many side effects and risks that are legitimately scary, but vets understand the effectiveness and risks of these medications far better. CBD oil is a natural and safe alternative to traditional treatments, but its use is still very new and is not nearly as well understood. Be aware if you use it for your pet, particularly as a primary treatment, that adjustments and even aggressive backup plans may be necessary.
CBD oil can be a life-saving, miraculous answer for cats who can't take traditional treatments, for whom traditional treatments didn't work, or who are suffering so much taking a traditional treatment that they may have to stop taking it. Consult your veterinarian or a holistic vet to determine if CBD oil is the right choice for your cat.
Purchasing CBD Oil
There are some things to look for when purchasing a CBD oil product.
Full-spectrum versus CBD isolate
Full spectrum CBD oil contains cannabidiol, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients from the hemp plant that offer additional benefits while CBD isolate is, as it sounds, just cannabidiol. Most people prefer full-spectrum, excited about the additional benefits, but some people say CBD isolate actually works better. Either one is fine; it's a matter of what you find works. For your cat with cancer, particularly one that impacts their appetite or digestive system, full-spectrum may be the best first choice because of the added nutrients.
It is important to check the website of any CBD oil manufacturer you intend to buy a product from to ensure they provide you with third-party lab test results. Not all manufacturers sell quality products, with safe ingredients or even the ingredients they claim are in the product. It's terrible, but that doesn't make it any less true. Protect your cat by looking for the test results to ensure the correct amount of cannabidiol is in the product and that there isn't anything else in there that shouldn't be.
You'll also want to determine if the manufacturer states where they acquired their CBD oil or hemp. Whether they grow it themselves or get the cannabidiol from someone else, you should be able to verify that it was grown in a country with safe cultivating regulations.
Choose a CBD oil with as few ingredients as possible and only ones that are necessary and safe. Many are natural, because the target market likes natural products. You can also get organic CBD oil products.
Innovations from Innovet
Innovet creates scientifically-backed products to improve the lives of pets with hard-to-treat ailments. If your cat has specific needs not met by current CBD oil products by any manufacturer, let us know so we can try to create a new product for them, no matter which of the types of cat cancers they have been diagnosed with.
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.
Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.
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.
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The Innovet Team