As in humans, animals can also develop cancer. Therefore, tumors in cats are also possible, this is a cellular alteration that can occur in many living beings, in which cats are no exception.
Of course, diseases do not act in the same way in all living beings, because depending on the species in which it manifests it has some other difference.
However, the treatments carried out to combat this type of cancer in cats are very similar to the treatments to combat them in humans.
Currently, due to the relatively long life that cats have when domesticated, it has become more common to find this type of pathologies developing in our kittens, especially tumors are found in older cats.
Perhaps your cat was diagnosed with or suspected of having a tumor, and you want to know a lot more about it.
If so and you want to learn a little more about tumors in cats, we invite you to read the rest of the post. We will try to shed light on this issue.
We will talk about the symptoms, diagnosis, types and treatments of cancer in cats.
What is cancer in cats?
Cancer itself is a term used to refer to a set of diseases caused by abnormal growth and uncontrolled division of cells in the body, these cells expand in such a way that they are able to reach healthy tissues at their disposal. around.
This atypical cell growth can cause the appearance of lumps which are known as tumors or neoplasia, which is nothing more than the excessive accumulation of cells.
These tumors can be benign or malignant. To determine this, it is necessary to know its invasive capacity, the malignant ones being the most invasive and which we refer to more as cancer.
These malignant tumors affect organs or tissues of the body and are capable of spreading, this spread is known as metastasis, which is fatal. These spread through the bloodstream or through lymphatic vessels throughout the body.
On the other hand, benign tumors in cats, although they are also cells that grow without control, these, unlike malignant ones, do not tend to invade any tissue around them, nor to spread.
Malignant tumors are much more serious than benign ones because of their invasive nature, and because they can cause really aggressive diseases.
Benign tumors are tumors that grow slowly, do not spread, and do not recur after being removed, while malignant ones grow rapidly, are highly invasive, and are likely to multiply after removal.
As we can see, the explanation of cancer in cats is practically the same as that of cancer in any other organism.
Causes of Cancer and Tumors in Cats
It is very likely that you feel somewhat guilty if your cat is diagnosed with cancer, you will surely wonder if you did something wrong or if you could have done something so that it did not happen.
You will worry, you will feel bad, although it is a very valid and normal attitude, you should know that cancer is a disease for which they have not yet been able to determine the cause as such.
It is known that it is a genetic alteration of the cell, but it is not yet clear what causes that alteration. Therefore, it is practically impossible to prevent most cancers.
As we mentioned, in most cases, it is not possible to determine what caused the cancer in cats. But it is hypothesized that there are cats with genetics more susceptible to developing some cancers.
It may be that during the course of its life the cat has been exposed to some situations that perhaps helped in the genetic alteration that caused the abnormal growth of some cells.
Such as, for example, exposure to some chemical agents known as carcinogens. Or that the cat has suffered from a previous disease that favoured the development of cancer cells, such as infection with the Feline Immunodeficiency virus or the Feline Leukaemia virus .
But, luckily, these viruses are currently not as common in cats. And they are very easy to diagnose with the help of a veterinarian, before the cat develops any type of cancer from them.
But, despite this, it is impossible to know the cause of the vast majority of cancer cases in cats.
Cancer Symptoms in Cats. Tumors
As there are numerous types of cancer and these can affect any tissue of the body, the symptoms that show the presence of some type of cancer can be very varied.
In addition to that, the one that presents some symptom will not give you the assurance that it is really a cancer.
In addition, when cancer begins, it develops slowly and can cause symptoms common in other mild diseases that you do not have to worry about more.
That is why it is a bit difficult to detect cancer in cats immediately. To begin with, we can tell you that cancer is generally more common in older cats.
As it is a slowly developing pathology at the beginning, it can cause some common symptoms such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Appearance of weakness
- Decrease in weight
There are cases where there may be appearances of bumps on the skin, there may be some change in the eyes, the appearance of sudden bleeding, etc. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms will appear, already related to the affected organ or tissue.
Next, we will give you a list of the symptoms that occur most frequently in the presence of cancer:
- Appearance of lumps
- Bleeding for no reason
- Wounds do not heal
- Wounds with ulceration
- Loss of appetite
- Excessive salivation
- Coughing and snoring
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Soft spot
- Decrease in weight
It is important that, in the continuous presence of one or a combination of these symptoms, you take your cat to a veterinarian, remember that the faster a diagnosis is given, the more likely your cat has to heal. We recommend that you take your cat for regular checkups .
How is cancer in cats diagnosed?
If there is a suspicion that your cat may suffer from some type of cancer, it is essential that you go to a veterinarian to help you with the diagnosis, he may use some of the most common methods to detect cancer in a cat .
It should be noted that it is not enough just for the cat to present some symptoms, or just a physical examination to determine or confirm the cancer condition.
Generally, ultrasound or X-rays tend to be performed in order to find the exact location and size of the condition. Once the anomaly is located, an examination of the suspicious tissue is carried out in order to give a definitive diagnosis.
How is this test done? The most common way is through a biopsy, that is, extracting a little of the affected tissue through a surgical intervention and then studying it.
It is also possible to obtain a diagnosis with a fine needle aspirate, inserting a needle into the lump to extract some cells and then examine them; or with a needle biopsy, which involves inserting a thicker needle into the lump to obtain some tissue.
It is also normal that you have to do some blood tests on your cat, these are routine and necessary for the diagnosis, with them it is possible to detect what alterations the cancer may be producing and that can facilitate the diagnosis, or if there is any other disease.
There are other types of cancer that require more sophisticated methods to diagnose them. Methods such as CT (Computerized Axial Tomography) or Magnetic Resonance , these are very useful and accurate when diagnosing brain tumors in your cat .
Most common tumors in cats
Today the appearance of tumors and / or cancers in our little feline friends is becoming quite common.
There are a great variety of them, and it is not easy to know them all. However, we will name you some of the tumors that occur most frequently in cats:
Mouth or Throat Cancer in Cats
Oral cancer or oral squamous cell carcinoma originate from cells in the mouth or throat of cats and commonly affect the tongue as well and can even reach the bone and lymph nodes.
This type of cancer can make it difficult for cats to eat, cause excessive salivation and bad breath.
Squamous cell carcinoma
This is a type of skin cancer in cats. And one of the possible main causes of this cancer is constant exposure to the sun. Squamous cell carcinoma is more common in white cats that live in countries where the sun shines a lot.
This type of cancer generally affects sensitive areas of the cat such as the nose or ears, it is a tumor that looks like a wound that does not heal. This type of cancer is not common, that is, the known metastasis does not occur and its removal may be sufficient.
Osteosarcoma in cats
Osteosarcoma is a type of cancer that damages the bones of cats. That is, we can find this cancer in the bones of the spine, in the bones of the extremities or in the skull bone of cats.
This type of cancer produces weakness in animals, if it develops in the bones of any of their limbs, it can lead to fractures and the kittens will feel a lot of pain.
Sometimes it may not fracture, but the animal may be lame and will still feel pain, which will gradually intensify.
This bone cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and to the lungs.
Lymphoma in cats
Lymphoma is the most common cancer in cats. This is a solid malignant tumor, which is generated in lymphocytes, these white blood cells are related to the immune system, therefore, they are present in the blood.
It should be noted that there are groups of lymphocytes in various parts of the body, such as in the lymph nodes and within some other tissue.
This is why a lymphoma can appear in any place where lymphocytes are present and can even appear in different places at the same time, which is very common. The most common place for lymphomas to develop in cats is in the lymph nodes.
They also occur frequently in other sites such as: the rib cage, the gastrointestinal tract, the nasal cavity, the kidneys, and the nervous system . Depending on the tissue affected by the lymphoma, certain symptoms will occur.
You should also know that, if your cat has suffered or suffers from a disease such as Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency, it is very prone to suffering from this type of cancer.
Breast cancer in cats
Breast cancer or mammary carcinoma is one that directly affects the mammary glands of your cat , and it is much more common for females that have not been sterilized of the species to suffer from it, although that does not mean that males or cats Sterilized females cannot suffer it.
It normally affects several mammary glands, so it is natural for several nodules to appear on the cat’s breasts, swollen or hardened areas may also appear .
This is one of the tumors that spreads faster to the lymph nodes in the area or to the lungs.
Fibrosarcoma in cats
This type of cancer originates in fibroblasts or in connective tissues, it is generally subcutaneous, that is, it occurs under the skin. These begin with a solid mass that increases in size over time.
There are cases in which these are quite aggressive with a great degree of invasion, spreading to other tissues quickly. There are some that are less invasive, slow to develop.
The degree of malignancy of these tumors varies, some are very malignant, with extensive invasion of the surrounding tissues and metastasizing very soon to the lymph nodes and lungs. Others are less aggressive and are not as invasive or metastasize as quickly.
Mast cell disease in cats
Mast cell tumors are tumors that damage the skin, spleen and intestines, this originate in a cell called mast cells, which can be found throughout the body.
When mast cell tumors are in the intestine, they are usually very damaging tumors and can cause obstructions in the intestine.
These can be removed through surgery, however, their total removal is very difficult. In addition to these, they spread to the lungs, liver, spleen and lymph nodes.
Mastocytomas that only affect the skin are a little less harmful than that of the intestines, but, just as serious, they generate one or more ulcerated lumps on the cat’s skin .
Respiratory carcinoma, this type of cancer can affect any organ that makes up the respiratory system of the cat, that is, respiratory carcinoma can include several types of cancer.
But the most common are nose cancer in cats, such as adenocarcinoma (affecting the nose or lungs) or nasal lymphoma. This type of cancer usually tends to obstruct breathing, causing snoring and snorting in cats.
On the other hand, lung adenocarcinoma can cause progressive cough and respiratory distress in small cats.
Liver cancer in cats
This type of cancer in the liver or pancreas in cats is the least common among felines.
Among the symptoms of this type of cancer are jaundice, weight loss, abdominal swelling, loss of appetite. This cancer is one of the most dangerous in cats, because it usually does not respond to treatments.
This damages the large intestine of the cat, on some occasions and the small intestine on other occasions.
This type of cancer usually develops very quickly. These will cause the cat to lose weight, decrease appetite, diarrhea and vomiting.
Generally this expands to the lymph nodes in the intestinal area of the cat, and can also cause obstructions in it.
Treatments for cancer in cats
It is very possible to treat the many types of cancer that cats can get, and it will be much better if it is detected very early.
If proper treatment is applied in time, your cat’s life can be saved.
But, like everything, the treatments may not work in some felines, they may even be harmful to them, and it is better not to treat them.
This type of decision should be taken together with a veterinarian who specializes in the disease, who should guide you in the best way, IT will tell you what is convenient or not for your cat, depending on the situation.
The treatment that will be applied to your cat will depend on the type of cancer it has, where it is located and if it is spread elsewhere or not. It will also depend on the financial situation of the owner, the age of the cat, and the type of life it leads.
There are three different ways to treat cancer in cats and these are:
which is the treatment most used by specialists to eliminate cancer.
The veterinarian must determine if the tumor in the cat should be completely or partially removed by surgery, or if it should be treated in combination with radio or chemo and surgery.
Performing surgery on your cat can have some risks, and post-operative care and treatment will be very necessary.
With radiotherapy in cats:
Radiation therapy consists of the application of intense radiation on the tumor. This radiation will be able to kill the cells that cause cancer, but we must be aware that it will also kill any healthy cells.
To fight cancer through this treatment it is necessary to perform several sessions on your cat. So the treatment can last a few weeks.
Very few veterinary centers have equipment to apply radiotherapy. Also, this has some side effects in cats such as vomiting, hair loss, etc.
With Chemotherapy in cats:
It is possible to find, today, numerous pharmaceutical treatments with anticancer purposes, these attack the cancer cells of the cat. This treatment can be applied with pills or injections.
And like radiation therapy, it has side effects, such as hair loss in cats, bone marrow suppression, and gastrointestinal irritation.
And with this section we end this article about tumors and cancer in cats, we really hope that all the information contained here will be very useful for you. Remember the importance of visiting your veterinarian for those periodic check-ups. Early detection is half the victory.