4 Types of Cat Cancer and Their Common Symptoms

Sadly, one in five cats get cancer. Lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma, mast cell tumor, and bone cancer are all common in cats.

While a cancer diagnosis is emotionally devastating, some cancers are treatable if caught early. This is one reason you want to ensure your cat has regular wellness visits to the veterinarian. Cat cancer symptoms can be subtle and cats are good at hiding illness.

One of the most common symptoms of cat cancer are “lumps and bumps.” Unusual lumps that change size could be a sign of cancer. A simple test by your vet will indicate the treatment protocol.

Now you may wonder what causes cancer in cats. Experts believe there are a variety of possibilities including toxins in the environment and the feline leukemia virus. Let’s take a quick look at four common types.

cat cancer causes and symptoms

Four Common Types of Cat Cancer

Mast cell tumors - Mast cells are white blood cells. Occasionally, they can become tumors, which are abnormal swellings. They may be benign or malignant - many cases they are benign. The only way to know for sure is to make an appointment with your veterinarian and we’ll take a sample for testing. The cause isn’t known, though we do know that there are higher incidences in Siamese cats.

Lymphoma - As you may know, lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. It develops in the lymph nodes and causes them to swell. The lymphatic system is responsible for maintaining the flow of fluids throughout the body including cleansing toxins which means cancerous cells can be circulating throughout your pet’s body. Experts believe one way cats get lymphoma is through exposure to the Feline Leukemia Virus. Luckily, an effective vaccination for Feline Leukemia Virus is available to help reduce this risk. Cats may also develop lymphoma of the intestinal tract. Sometimes, inflammatory bowel disease may go undiagnosed and later in life, transform into cancer. Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms may include intermittent vomiting or diarrhea. Weight loss for no real reason may prompt your veterinarian to recommend intestinal biopsy samples after initial testing to rule out other causes of weight loss. 

Squamous cell carcinoma - Squamous cells are the type of cells that form your pet’s skin. When you look at them closely, they have tiny lines resembling fish scales. These cells also line interior passages of the respiratory and digestive tracts. These cells can develop cancer in your cat’s mouth or on her body. In the mouth, you might see sores and his breath may smell bad. Experts relate it to exposure of secondhand smoke, but we also see these tumors in cats with more sun exposure especially cats with pale coats. If your cat develops sores on the skin that won’t heal, that could be a sign of skin cancer. This is another form of squamous cell carcinoma. In either instance, book an appointment for your cat for an examination.

Bone Cancer - The signs of this cancer include lameness, swelling, and lethargy. It is fairly rare but tends to be aggressive. Current evidence doesn’t show a reason for cats developing this type of cancer though we do know it’s more common in larger and giant breed cats.

cat cancer causes and symptoms

Other Symptoms of Cat Cancer

  • Foul odor - healthy cats don’t smell.
  • Persistent sores - sores that don’t heal, need to be looked at by a professional.
  • Difficulty with bathroom chores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Lethargy

You may read this list of symptoms and they think they’re the same for many health concerns and you’re right. They are. External symptoms of cat cancer can be subtle. Your best course of action for prevention is a healthy lifestyle and regular check ups for your cat. We recommend twice a year wellness visits for cats 8 and older.

You can find out more about cat cancer here and you can book an appointment here.

 

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