Cat Cancer




What is Cat Cancer
Cancer is uncontrollable division and growth of cells that are normally very controlled. It can take a single cell to undergo a genetic mutation to cause cancer to develop by creating cell division unregulated, producing a tumour. Causes of most cancers are obscure but it is understood that some environmental conditions such as:

  • Chemicals

  • Hormones

  • Radiation

  • Viruses

These can cause changes in cells that produce cancer but normally over a period of some time resulting in older animals falling ill from cancer.
Neoplasia is another term for cancer, meaning new growth. Tumors are often referred to as neoplasia. These tumours are classed under two types being benign or malignant.
Benign tumours stay in one place and don't spread to other organs.
Malignant tumours are worse in that they can infect surrounding tissue and penetrate into the bloodstream or lymphatic vessels. Once in the bloodstream or lymphatic vessels the tumours cells can spread to other parts of the body and to other lymph nodes. The process is called metastasis and is also the most common way for cancer to spread.
A tumour that is benign may get to the point were it seems to be malignant in that it is at a size were it is affecting surrounding tissue making it impossible to operate to treat or remove.
Cats can be open to many different cancers some of the worst being:

  • Lymphosarcoma

  • Mammary cancer, breast

  • Squamous cell carcinoma


Lymphosarcoma this is a cancer that appears on lymphoid tissues that can involve any organ. Cats of any age can get lymphosarcoma however Cats between 2 and 6 years old are more susceptible. Also younger Cats are more likely to get leukaemia resulting in them having an increased risk of getting lymphosarcoma were as old Cats that get lymphoma are less likely to have leukaemia.
Lymphosarcoma is normally put into 1 of 5 categorized positions, these being:

  • Alimentary

    • The digestive system

  • Extranodal

    • Other organs like: eyes, kidneys, nasal cavity, nervous system and skin

  • Leukemic

    • Bloodstream

  • Mediastinal

    • Involves systems in the chest

  • Multicentric

    • Lymph nodes

Cats are more susceptible to lymphosarcoma of the gastrointestinal tract, the mediastinal involving systems in the chest such as the kidneys, liver and spleen. With chemotherapy, lymphosarcoma of the gastrointestinal is pretty responsive.

Older cats are more susceptible to Mammary Cancer. Around 17% of tumours in female Cats are due to mammary tumours. Having your cat or even dog spayed before their first heat can help prevent the chance of them getting mammary cancerous tumours. Male cats can also be affected by mammary cancer however this is rear. Cats mammary tumours behave differently compared to dog mammary tumours in that around half of dog tumours are malignant were as in cats, around 80% of tumours are malignant. Over half of all Cats affected by mammary tumours are found to have multiple gland involvement. Also mammary cancer can spread to the lungs and does so fast making the forecast very bad. The best treatment for cats with mammary tumours is to have them surgically removed. It is believed that a cat with a tumour that is 2 centimetres or less in size has a better chance of survival were as any that are 3 centimetres or larger are at a higher risk. After surgery, chemotherapy is often recommended.

Around 15% of all cat skin tumours are Squamous cell carcinoma related. Affects of these tumours can show as light or un pigmented skin. Prolonged exposure to the sun can boost the chances of Squamous cell carcinoma advancing. Squamous cell carcinoma that is brought on by the sun is also known as actinic Squamous cell carcinoma. The more common places for this to develop are the hairless areas such as the ears, eyelids and the nose. Older cats and cats of an age around 12 are more prone to catching Squamous cell carcinoma. The only breed of cat that is less at risk of catching Squamous cell carcinoma are Siamese cats because of their pigmented skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is often responsive to treatment. A veterinary oncologist from New York has had some success with treating Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin apart from cases were the Squamous cell carcinoma is very advanced. Using a few different options such as intralesional chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery, Squamous cell carcinoma has a good to excellent success rate of treatment. Squamous cell carcinoma can affect a cats mouth and can be a lot more fatal than skin Squamous cell carcinoma. Around 95% of mouth Squamous cell carcinoma are diagnosed when then cat has symptoms such as swelling of the jaw or face, blood in the mouth or very bad weight loss. Treatment for mouth Squamous cell carcinoma involves surgery that in most cases are unsuccessful as once the symptoms start to show the disease is to advanced. Only around 5% of Cats survive mouth Squamous cell carcinoma.


Many test have to be undergone before cancer is the definitive diagnosis. This involves blood tests, x rays and ultrasound that all help provide much needed information to diagnose cancer. However the majority of cases need a biopsy in order to confirm cancer as the diagnoses. If cancer is diagnosed as the problem their are a few treatments available with the most common ones being:

  • Chemotherapy

  • Radiation

  • Surgery

Surgery is the best chance for the cancer to be cured as long as it is possible for the whole tumour to be removed. If it is affecting tissue around the tumour it can be more difficult and not possible for it to be removed and cured. When leukaemia is the cause for the illness surgery is not an option as it involves the blood stream.
Radiation can be used for parts of tumours that could not be removed by surgery and for confined tumours that cant be surgically removed. Cancerous cells dived fast and radiation harms these cells, once treated the cancerous cells can no longer divide leading to them dieing. Different cancers react differently to radiation treatment were some are affected well and die, were some are more resilient.
Chemotherapy can be used when many parts have been infected by cancerous cells and surgery and radiation wont be affective enough. Chemotherapy can be very commonly used as a treatment for your cat. Many chemotherapy drugs for cats are the same as the ones for humans but are not given the same expected results. Use of chemotherapy in pets is to provide a longer and happier life and not to cure the problem. With this in mind, cats receive and react well to chemotherapy but have to be watched so to notice weather they are becoming ill by looking for reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea and poor appetite. The loss of hair is not common, but if any hair has been shaved of it may take longer to grow back, also your cat may loss its whiskers.

Unfortunately all of the above may not help your much loved Cat, although you may get a few more weeks if not months left with your cat. Then their will come a time were your cats standard of living is very low and he or she is very uncomfortable, at this point it is time to say good bye and have them put down.

Finding a bump
When you stroke your cat its to show affection, although you should be aware of what you are feeling so to notice anything out of the ordinary. If you are conscious when stroking your cat, it may be worth making an effort feeling around their mouth and neck and also around their mammary glands to cheek for abnormal lumps. If any are found it is good practice to take note on the size of the lump, the location, the texture, the sensitivity of the lump meaning weather it bothers your cat when its touched or anything else such as it being ulcerated, oozing, bleeding or even have a bad smell coming from it. Most lumps you may come across will be harmless and it takes a competent vet to asses weather it is harmless or not. Generally speaking lumps that appear slowly and have defined edges are benign. All tumours start small and grow larger so small lumps should be monitored, also if you are monitoring a lump your self, it is important to be attentive to its size. If the lump gets larger all of a sudden or anything else changes such as its texture, a trip to the vets should be the first thing you do.

Possible signs that suggest your cat has cancer

  • Any un-usual swelling that continues and that grows

  • Blood or any other type of discharge coming from any orifice

  • Trouble breathing

  • Trouble urinating

  • Trouble defecating

  • Trouble eating

  • Trouble swallowing

  • No appetite

  • Bad smell

  • Sores that don't seem to heal

  • Continues lameness and/or stiffness

  • Sudden loss of stamina

  • Reluctant to exercise

  • Loss of weight

  • What can be done about Cat Cancer ?
  • What are the symptoms of Cat Cancer ?
  • Cat Cancer treatment
  • Does my pet insurance cover for Cat Cancer ?
  • Questions about Cat Cancer ? Seek advice from your veterinary surgeon !
  • Is Cat Cancer contagious ?
  • Can I vaccinate my cat against Cat Cancer ?
  • Is Cat Cancer a serious problem ?
  • Need information about Cat Cancer ?
  • Symptoms of Cat Cancer health problems
  • Can I insure my pet cat or kitten against Cat Cancer ?
  • Guide to Cat Cancer - a cats health problem

Cat Cancer


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The intensions of this site is to give you helpful information about the health of your pet cat. It is to provide helpful facts and information to help aid in raising your cat or kitten. This site and its information is not for self diagnosing your pet cat with any illness or sickness. Professional help should be sought - Visit your local veterinary surgeon or practitioner, you may also need to consider whether your pet cat or kitten should be taken to a Cat or cat hospital. Be warned vet bills can be very costly, we strongly recommend the purchase of pet insurance before health problems occur. Cat health insurance is a must as Cat illness can be very expensive, insurance will give much needed help in affording health related bills.

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