More cases of cancer are found in dogs than there are in cats, however the disease is tragically still the leading cause of death in senior felines. Nearly 50% of cat deaths are caused by cancer annually. Though the cause of cancer can be difficult to determine, one of the most common kinds is the feline leukemia virus. Exposure to outside sources (such as feral or stay cats) as well as environmental toxins (such as secondhand smoke) are believed to be the main contributors to cancer amongst felines.
The rapid-growing cells usually manifest in felines as a tumor which attaches to the tissue somewhere in a cat’s body. A vet might diagnose what kind of cancer the cat ails with through a variety of different measures including: hands-on exams, ultrasounds, x-rays, blood tests, and urine tests, etc. While there are certain types of cancer that cannot be cured, these treatments are the primary solutions that many cat-owners use to heal their pet from the disease: chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and immunotherapy.
Common Types of Feline Cancer
Feline Leukemia Virus: Because FeLV can be transmitted amongst cats, it is perhaps one of the deadliest and most insidious diseases. Cats fighting feline leukemia virus will have a wide variety of bizarre, seemingly unrelated symptoms that can make diagnoses difficult. Among these are appetite changes, fatigue, weight loss, oral diseases, anemia, diarrhea, recurring infections, dry and dull coats, seizures, swollen lymph nodes, fevers, and gingivitis, etc. As there are many stages that occur in the progression of FeLV, we recommend seeing a vet the moment your cat exhibits any grouping of the above symptoms.
Lymphoma: Though the feline leukemia virus is often believed to be the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in cats, it is actually lymphoma that is the most common form of the disease. The infected lymph nodes swell up, and cause the cat to experience loss of appetite, weight, and the ability to breath easily.
Skin Tumors: Surprisingly, cats that have white fur are most susceptible to having skin tumors. These usually can be felt as bumps under the skin, or visible lumps. They may develop gradually for years before causing any alarm in the pet owner. Some cats will lick the lump often, which is one of the signals to look out for with feline skin tumors.
Mammary Gland Tumors: Most often found in elderly female cats, cancer of the mammary glands is the third most common type of feline cancer. Lumps and tumors might develop around the breast tissue near a cat’s stomach, and the nipples might excrete fluid and appear agitated and red.
Abdominal Tumors: While this is the most uncommon form of cancer in cats, it is also one of the more challenging to treat. Cats that struggle with swollen stomachs, changes to their eating habits, have digestive issues (like diarrhea and vomiting), and evident weakness ought to be brought to their vet at once for assessment.