Just like humans, cats are susceptible to a variety of diseases, including cancer. While cancer doesn’t occur in cats as frequently as it does in some animals, Pet Health Network¹ reports 1 in 5 cats will develop cancer during their lifetime. And the types of cancer that attack cats tends to be very aggressive.
When cats do get cancer, they have a tendency to mask it, making the disease harder to detect and resulting in delayed treatment. Although cancer in cats cannot completely be prevented, this is why it’s important to know the types of and treatments for cat cancers.
The Most Common Cat Cancers
Cancer is one of the leading causes of deaths in cats, especially among older ones. It’s the result of uncontrolled cell growth that affects various cell types and body organs. There are several types of cancer that occur in cats, and the following are the most common:
One of the more common forms of cat cancer, lymphoma, is associated with the feline leukemia virus. Although cats can be vaccinated for feline leukemia, many cats continue to be exposed to it. Left untreated, 85 percent of cats that develop lymphoma will die within three years according to WebMD². Cat lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that typically affects the lymph nodes, nasal cavity, intestines, kidneys and liver.
Fibrosarcoma is a tumor that occurs in the soft tissue of the ears, shoulders, and feet. It has the appearance of a solid, irregular mass under the skin. Although these tumors are viral in nature, they cannot be transmitted from one cat to another or to human beings. Symptoms include a painful ulceration and swelling in the legs.
3. Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma (CCC) is a type of skin cancer that typically occurs within areas lacking natural pigmentation, such as the nose, ears, and eyelids of a cat. It also can appear on limbs and toes. CCC accounts is especially prevalent on white cats in sunny climates.
Can Cat Cancer Be Prevented?
Cancer cannot be prevented entirely, but there are ways to reduce your cat’s risk of developing cancer. The most important thing you can do is monitor your cat on a regular basis and look for any signs of trouble. If you spot any unusual behaviors, such as a loss of appetite or lethargy, or notice changes in your cat’s appearance, like a dull coat or yellow eyes and mouth, you should take your cat to the veterinarian’s office as soon as possible.
Your vet will be able to examine any lumps or skin conditions and check your cat’s overall health. If your veterinarian finds anything suspicious, they may want to perform some additional tests such as blood work and a urinalysis. It’s extremely important to use a veterinarian as they are trained to spot any signs of cancer that might otherwise go undetected. Even if your cat isn’t showing any signs of health changes, it’s important that your cat visit the vet regularly for checkups that could stop cancer before it begins – or prevent the disease from worsening.
If cancer is discovered, early detection and treatment can significantly improve the prognosis. Recent advances in the field of veterinary medicine have made it possible to treat diseases that were previously untreatable. New treatments also are less aggressive than those used on humans. If your veterinarian is not equipped to provide some of the latest procedures, they can refer you to a veterinarian oncologist who will be able to map out a treatment plan. Even if a cure isn’t available, certain things can be done to improve your cat’s quality of life.
Cat Cancer Treatments
Treatments for cat cancer vary dramatically depending on location and the stage of cancer. Here are three of the most common treatment options:
1. Surgery: Surgery of any kind can be expensive, but it can also remove cancer entirely. Surgery can be very effective for tumors on the skin and for small, distinct internal growths.
2. Chemotherapy and radiation: Chemotherapy and radiation can be very effective in treating cat cancer and managing pain, and these treatments come with very few side effects.
3. Oral medication: Oral medications can sometimes be effective in treating cat cancer and managing pain associated with it. However, these medications can be very expensive.
Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Cat cancer can be both emotionally and financially devastating if not caught in its early stages. Because of this, it’s extremely important to monitor your cat for early warning signs, implement preventive techniques, and take your cat to a vet at the first sign of trouble.
If you treat your cat like family, give him or her the best life possible by visiting your vet regularly. A vet can perform screenings and monitor your cat’s health, ensuring any changes – or any early signs of cancer – can be caught in the earliest stages possible. Monitoring your cat’s health is the best course of action for keeping them healthy and happy.
Like anything, it’s always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.