Cats, like most animals, can develop cancer at some point in their lives. Although cancer is found more rarely in cats than in dogs, it is still very important to know the warning signs for this particularly devastating illness.
Here is what you should watch out for to spot cancer and maintain your cat's quality of life if they are diagnosed.
1. What are the symptoms of cancer in cats?
Source: Dreamstime/Stephen Mulcahey
Like with dogs and humans, cancer in cats can take several forms and affect most parts of the body. Sadly, our feline friends are masters of hiding their emotions and don't often show obvious signs of pain or discomfort when they are sick or injured. Because of this, you must keep a close eye on them.
Most symptoms of cancer can also be signs of other illnesses, making it more difficult to recognize as cancer. Here is a short list of some of the most common symptoms you should be aware of:
- Lumps under the skin
- Weight loss
- Appetite loss
- Breathing problems
- frequent digestive issues
- Wounds that don't heal
If your cat has one or more of these symptoms, it is essential that you take them to the vet as quickly as you can. Even if it isn't cancer, your cat could be suffering from something else and it is far easier to cure something in its early stages than to wait and see if it will go away by itself.
2. Diagnosing cancer in cats
If they are unsure, your veterinarian can use several different tests, such as x-rays, blood tests, or even an MRI to find tumors and figure out if they are cancerous or benign.
If one or more cancerous tumors are found, they can usually be treated, allowing your cat to live out their lives in as much comfort as possible.
3. Treating cancer in cats
Source : Perth Cat Hospital
There are three main types of treatment for feline cancer: surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Although surgery can be used to remove a tumor if the cancer hasn't spread too far, it will not be possible in every case. What's more, the chance of the cancer returning increases with each surgery.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used when the cancer has spread throughout your cat's body or is affecting an area that can't be operated on, such as leukemia, which affects white blood cells.
All these treatments aim to reduce symptoms and extend your cat's life, but unfortunately it is not yet possible to cure all cancers permanently.
4. Helping your cat live with cancer
Source: Animal Medical Center
In most cases, your cat's cancer will be manageable with regular treatment and will only cause them slight pain or discomfort.
It is very difficult to estimate how long a cat with cancer will survive; while some live a long and happy life, others aren't given the chance. A very aggressive case can take a life within months, or even weeks of being spotted.
Sooner or later, an affected cat's health will start to drop. With the pain getting worse, they will lose their appetite and their strength. If your feline friend is suffering, it is kinder to take them to the vet, where they can be peacefully put to sleep with their favorite human by their side.
It is, of course, very difficult and distressing to see your beloved companion in pain. However, even if your four-legged friend is diagnosed with cancer, all is not lost. Many sick cats live out long and happy lives despite their illness, with their health only being slightly affected.
With regular visits to your veterinarian, they will be able to help you do everything you can for your pet. Your lovable furball will thank you.
Click here to read our article about cancer in dogs.
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