No cat owner wants to hear that their cat is sick or is diagnosed with an illness such as cat cancer. It can be devastating to hear the news and can affect the entire family. Obviously, our feline friends are an integral part of the family dynamic, and you just want to know that everything is going to be alright. We sat down with on-site Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde, to learn more about cat cancer and the best practices available for your furry friend.
What you need to know about cat cancer
The truth about cat cancer
Just as cancer can appear as various types in humans, it certainly can do the same for cats. Essentially, cat cancer does not limit itself to a certain type of cancer. “Cats can get any type of cancer, and different types of cancer can occur in different locations. For instance, cancers that I saw most frequently in practice were squamous cell carcinomas in the mouth, intestinal lymphoma, and mammary tumors (breast cancer), just to name a few,” says on-site Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde. Most importantly, if you have any cause for concern, seek medical care and check in with your veterinarian.
Signs of cancer in cats –
Your cat’s wellness exams and yearly check-ups are incredibly important for their general overall health. In addition, they are also important to spot potential signs of bigger issues that your pet may experience. Also, depending on what type of cancer your cat has, different signs might present itself.
Consider the following signs that may be associated with cancer in cats according to Dr. Wilde:
- External cancers can be evident as a skin growth or mass, and any new lump or bump should be checked by a veterinarian to make sure it is not cancerous.
- Vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss can be signs of gastrointestinal lymphoma
- Breathing issues can be a sign of lung cancers, either primary or spreading from another part of the body
- Lameness can be a sign of bone or joint cancer
In addition, to help your cat remain in optimum health, remember to stay on schedule with yearly wellness exams and be pro-active with your cat’s overall wellness. For example, wellness can include anything from vaccinations to exercise and a healthy diet. Further, a wellness exam, by your veterinarian can determine if there is an issue needs additional testing.
How does a cat get cancer?
The biggest question of all – how does a cat get cancer? We all strive to keep our cats happy and healthy, and as responsible pet owners, we do everything we can to protect our cats.
Dr. Wilde further explains a common cancer in cats and breaks down the process of how cancer can affect the body –
“One of the most common cancers in cats is actually caused by a virus -the feline leukemia virus – which, is spread between cats. However, cats can be tested for the virus, and there is a vaccine to prevent it. Overall, cancer occurs when the cells multiply at an abnormal rate, and normal immune mechanisms cannot clear those cells that are out of control,” states Wilde.
Essentially, the earlier your cat can get checked out, the higher the likelihood of a positive prognosis for your furry friend.
How is cancer diagnosed in cats?
A diagnosis of cancer in cats depends on multiple variables, such as what type of cancer and what part of the body is being affected. Wilde breaks down the different variables of a cancer diagnosis in cats:
“We can sometimes detect cancer with x-rays, but the tumor needs to be of a certain size before we can detect it. Also, if the cancer is a mass, depending on the location, sometimes we can detect it by taking a sample with a needle. Further, of if that isn’t diagnostic, a biopsy can give us a diagnosis,” points out Wilde.
Initially, the road to diagnosis might take time. However, trust in the medical staff and your veterinarian that they will find the best course of action to diagnose and treat cancer.
Treatment of cat cancer
Once cancer has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan for your cat.
For instance, your cat cancer treatment plan might be dependent upon a wide variety of factors, such as –
- Where the cancer is located in the body
- Type of cancer
Also, there are different types of treatment for different cancers. “Treatment of cancer can be surgical to remove a tumor, or radiation can be used to shrink a tumor. Further, if it is systemic cancer, cats can receive chemotherapy, as with lymphoma. Overall, sometimes all three methods are used together, and response varies with the type of tumor,” states Wilde.
The family dynamic when there is a sick pet
One of the most important factors to consider when there is a sick pet is the emphasis on support for the entire family. Naturally, no one wants to experience a sick pet in their home, and each family member might respond differently to the diagnosis. Likewise, your cat might be scared and confused and could benefit from extra kisses, cuddles, and snuggles during this time period.
Cat cancer: treatment for our feline friends
Certainly, a cat cancer diagnosis can be a challenging road
to recovery. But with the support of your veterinarian and providing unlimited
support and love to your feline friend, remission is possible.