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Cancer in Cats Causes and Treatments

 Submitted by Michael Adams on April 29, 2010

Cancer is common in older cats and is a leading cause of death in younger ones as well. Cancer is defined as uncontrolled cell growth which can affect any cell type or organ in your pet’s body, just like in humans. If your cat has cancer, it is better to start the treatment immediately to get successful results.

Types of Cancer in Cats:

Feline cancers generally fall into four categories:

  • Skin tumors: Feline skin tumors are usually malignant. White cats are more prone to have skin tumors. If you detect any lump on your cat’s skin, you must immediately visit your vet.

  • Lymphoma: Feline lymphoma strikes the digestive system. The common symptoms of lymphoma are cats are excessive vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.
  • Tumors in the mammary glands: It is commonly seen in older female cats and usually these tumors are malignant. Spaying your cats at young age lowers the risk of tumors in the mammary glands
  • Abdominal tumors: The symptoms of abdominal tumors don’t appear at an early stage. If your cat vomits and has diarrhea for several weeks, you must immediately take your pet to the vet.
  • Apart from this, there are other types of tumors such as brain, nasal, liver, and lung tumors. However, they are not as common.

Cat Cancer Symptoms:

Cat cancer symptoms and signs are quite similar to that of human cancer symptoms:

  • External lumps
  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • Having trouble in urinating
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing problems
  • Bad odor
  • Rough coat
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Persistent lameness or stiffness.

Diagnosis of Cat Cancer:

The first diagnostic tests for cat suspected of having cancer are to run FeLV and FIV blood tests. Tumor staging is done to determine how big the tumor is, and if it has metastasized, or spread to another location in the body. Tests like x-rays, urinalysis, a thin needle aspirate, biopsy and blood tests are performed for tumor staging. The tests will help the vet to determine the cat's prognosis.

Cat Cancer Treatment, Care:

Not all cancers are treatable at the time of diagnosis, or in the case of debilitated cats, definitive treatment is a very expensive proposition.  Cancer treatment will largely depend on how advanced the disease is, the kind of cancer, and the cat's age. Feline tumors may be treated with surgery, feline radiation, and chemotherapy for cats.

Here are some tips for treating cat cancer:

  • You must handle your cat gently and maintain a comprehensive pain management which is critical to the quality and longevity of your pet suffering from cancer.
  • You must provide the recommended diet to the cat in order to improve its response to chemotherapy and decrease the adverse effects of radiation therapy.
  • You must provide a diet to your cat that is of high quality and easily digested.
  • You must make your cat drink adequate amounts of water, which is the most essential nutrient.
  • If you provide a good nutritional diet to your cat it will have an improved response to therapy and better quality of life.
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