cancer in cats

What is Cancer in Cats?

What is it?

Cancer in cats is a complex and varied group of diseases that can affect different tissues and organs in the body. It occurs when normal cells mutate and grow uncontrollably, forming abnormal masses or tumors. The causes of cancer in cats are not fully understood, but factors such as genetics, environmental toxins, and viral infections may play a role.

How is it Treated?

The treatment of cancer in cats depends on the type, location, and stage of the disease and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or palliative care. Treatment is individualized and requires ongoing maintenance and monitoring by a veterinarian. Early detection and treatment can improve the chances of a successful outcome.

Breed Predispositions

Siamese Abyssinian Persian Burmese Ragdoll


It was during a routine grooming session that Sarah first discovered a small lump on her beloved Abyssinian cat, Max. Worried about the mysterious growth, she immediately scheduled an appointment with her veterinarian. After a series of tests and a biopsy, Sarah received the heart-wrenching news: Max had cancer. In this blog post, we will explore the complex world of cancer in cats

Cancer is a disease where cells grow out of control and multiply uncontrollably. Cancerous tumors form when cells divide too quickly and become malignant.

Cats are prone to developing certain kinds of cancer because of genetic factors. One of the most common types of cancer found in cats is mammary carcinoma (breast cancer). Other types include squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcoma, Mastocytoma, melanoma, lymphoma, leukemia, plasmacytoma, and others.

Types of Cancer in Cats

Cats aren’t just cute—they’re also prone to developing many types of cancer. And while it might seem like we know everything about our furry friends, there are still plenty of things we don’t understand.

1. Lymphoma

Lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes — white blood cells that fight infection — become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably. Because of this, lymph nodes swell up and cause pain. Lymphomas can spread throughout the body and lead to organ failure if left untreated. Lymphoma is common in older cats and may be hereditary. However, the risk of developing lymphomas is shallow. Lymphomas are cancerous tumors that develop from lymphocytes, cells that play an essential role in the immune system. The most common types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s leukemia.

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in the outermost layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum. When cancer spreads beyond the stratum corneum into deeper layers of the skin, it becomes invasive. If left untreated, SCCs can spread to other body parts, including the lungs, liver, heart, bones, lymph nodes, kidneys, bladder, and intestines. The risk of developing SCC increases with age. Cats over ten years old are at greater risk than younger cats.

Cats who spend most of their day outdoors are more likely to develop SCC than indoor cats. In addition, some breeds, such as Siamese and Persians, are predisposed to SCC. Other factors include exposure to ultraviolet light, fleas, ticks, and certain foods.

3. Mast Cell Tumors

Feline mast cell tumors (FMCT) are benign skin growths found most commonly on cats’ faces, ears, paws, and tails. They’re usually painless, but some cats may experience discomfort when scratching at them.

Most FMCTs are harmless, but some can be life-threatening. The risk of death increases if the tumor infects or spreads to internal organs.

4. Bone Cancer

Feline bone cancer (feline Osteosarcoma) affects cats’ bones. The most common form of this disease is called Osteosarcoma.

Osteosarcomas are malignant tumors that develop in connective tissue cells, including those found in the bone. They usually affect older cats and may be hereditary.

There are two types of osteosarcomas: primary and secondary. Primary osteosarcomas occur when there is no previous history of a different kind of cancer. Secondary osteosarcomas arise after treatment for another type of cancer.

Primary osteosarcomas grow faster than secondary ones and often spread throughout the body. Conversely, secondary osteosarcomas tend to grow slower and stay localized within the original site of origin.

bone cancer in cats

5. Mammary Cancer

Mammary cancer affects female cats. It starts as an enlargement of one or both breasts. As cancer grows, it can block milk ducts and cause painful infections.

Cats often develop mammary cancer because of hormonal imbalances. Hormones play a role in cell growth and division; some hormones may be linked to mammary cancer.

Because mammary cancer is rare in dogs, most veterinarians aren’t familiar with this condition. However, many pet owners worry about mammary cancer because it’s common in cats.

6. Feline Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

Feline gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) are rare cancers that affect cats’ stomachs. They’re similar to human GISTs, which are very common, although not as deadly. Cats with feline GISTs usually live longer than those who develop human GISTs. However, there’s no cure for feline GISTs, just treatment options.

There are two types of feline GISTs: benign and malignant. Benign GISTs grow slowly and rarely spread outside the stomach. Malignant GISTs grow quickly and often spread throughout the body.

7. Feline Melanoma

Feline melanoma (feline cutaneous malignant melanoma) is a skin cancer affecting cats. The disease is most common among older domestic shorthair cats and breeds such as Maine Coons, Siamese, Persians, and Abyssinians.

Cats are prone to developing this form of cancer because they’re born with dark fur, and sunlight exposure increases the risk of developing the disease.

This form of cancer usually appears as a black dot on the cat’s skin and may be accompanied by swelling, redness, bleeding, ulcers, crusting, scabs, or open sores.

8. Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia (FeLV) is common cancer affecting cats over one year old. The disease causes white blood cells called lymphocytes to become infected with FeLV virus particles and has a 33% chance of developing cancer.This cancer type responds well to chemotherapy; most cats don’t experience any side effects. However, these infected cells multiply out of control, causing tumors to grow throughout the body.

Cats contracting this type of cancer usually die within two years of diagnosis. However, some survive longer than ten years after contracting the disease. In addition, they may also become increasingly aggressive towards cat owners and other animals.

What are the Common Causes of Cancer in Cats?

What are the Common Causes of Cancer in Cats?

Cats get cancer due to the following factors:

  • Genetic Factors

Genetic factors play an essential role in the development of feline cancers. Some genetic mutations occur spontaneously, whereas others may be inherited.

For example, congenital hemangiomas are benign tumors that grow in certain breeds of cats. Hemangioma occurs most often in Siamese, Burmese, and Maine Coon cats.

  • Environmental Factors

Environmental factors contribute to the development of cancer in cats. For instance, radiation exposure can lead to leukemia.

Exposure to arsenic, benzene, and asbestos can cause lung cancer. Exposure to pesticides can lead to liver cancer. In addition, unhealthy diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies that promote cancer growth.

  • Infectious Agents

Specific infectious agents can trigger the development of cancer in animals. For example, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can cause lymphoid malignancies.

Cat herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1) can cause oral papillomatosis. This condition usually affects young kittens.

Feline calicivirus (FCV) can cause upper respiratory tract infections. In addition, FCV infection can result in squamous cell carcinoma.

  • Nutrition

Nutrition plays a significant role in developing cancer in dogs and cats. Poor nutrition leads to poor immune system functioning. A poor diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially in older animals, promoting cancer growth.

  • Stress

Stress has been shown to play a significant role in developing several types of cancer in cats.

When stress levels rise, cortisol levels increase. Cortisol promotes inflammation and can damage DNA.

It has also been suggested that chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. These conditions can negatively impact overall health.

  • Other Causes

There are other potential causes of cancer in cats besides those discussed above. These include trauma, toxins, parasites, and hormonal imbalances.

Trauma can cause injury to cells and to soft tissues. Traumatic injuries can lead to cancerous changes. Toxins can enter the body through food, water, air, and soil.

Toxins can cause cancer by damaging DNA or causing cellular mutation.

Parasites can invade the body and cause cancer. In addition, parasitic worms can affect the digestive system.

Hormonal imbalances can disrupt average hormone production. In addition, hormone imbalance can lead to abnormal cell division and proliferation.

Symptoms of Cancer in Cats

Cats are very different animals from dogs. As a result, they don’t show many of the health problems we see in our canine companions. But there are some things you should know about feline health.

Some signs of cancer in cats include a change in eating or drinking habits, unexplained weight loss, discharge from the eyes or nose that is watery and red, enlarged lymph nodes (belly), blood in the urine, new hair growth on the head or body that is not normal for your cat’s age and behavior changes. Please consult your veterinarian if you notice these signs in your cat.

Other common symptoms of cancer in cats.

  • Weight Loss
  • Vomiting And Diarrhea
  • Bleeding From The Nose Or Mouth
  • Changes To the Urinary Or Digestive System
  • Persistent Pain
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weakness
  • Appetite Loss
  • Lack Of Energy
  • Lethargy
  • Unusual Behavior
  • Excessive Shedding
  • Unexplained Fever
  • Abdominal Masses
  • Lumps On the Skin Or Body

If Your Feline has Cancer, What Should You Do?

If your cat has cancer, there are many things you should do. The most important thing is to take your cat to the vet immediately.

Your veterinarian will perform tests to determine whether your cat has cancer. These include blood work, x-rays, ultrasound scans, and biopsies.

Once your cat has been diagnosed with cancer, your vet may recommend treatment options. Treatment options depend on the type of cancer your cat has, its stage (how far advanced), and your cat’s overall health.

Cancer Diagnosis in Feline

A cat’s definitive early cancer diagnosis requires an examination by a veterinarian. However, if there are suspicious signs or symptoms, your veterinarian may perform a preliminary diagnosis to rule out other causes of the changes and proceed with more thorough testing. If cancer is suspected, your vet will likely ask about your cat’s medical history (including any previous diagnoses or treatment), physical exam findings, and current health status.

To diagnose cancer, a veterinarian will do a complete physical examination of your cat to look for any signs of cancer. The vet may also order additional tests, such as a blood panel and chest X-ray, to rule out other causes of the cat’s symptoms. If cancer is suspected, the doctor will likely recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy as treatments.

Cancer Diagnosis in Feline

Treatment of Cancer in Cats

Cancers in cats are treated using chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and biotherapy.


Kills cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, skin rashes, mouth sores, and fatigue.

There are many different chemotherapy drugs available today. Some work better than others, some are more effective against specific types of cancer, and some are more expensive.

Some chemotherapy drugs are administered intravenously and are injected directly into the bloodstream. Others are given orally, meaning they’re swallowed. Still, others are applied topically, meaning rubbed onto the skin.


Cancer surgery is a widespread treatment option for cats with cancer. This procedure aims to remove all traces of cancerous cells from the body. This may include removing tumors, lymph nodes, or organs affected by the disease.

After surgery, your cat needs to recover at home for several days. During recovery, he should be kept warm and comfortable. He may need fluids intravenously during his hospital stay. After discharge, your vet will monitor him closely for any signs of complications.

Alternative treatments are available if your male cat does not respond well to surgery. These include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and natural remedies.

Radiation Therapy

It uses ionizing radiation to destroy cancer cells. The goal is to eliminate every cell containing DNA damage.

Two types of radiation therapy are used to treat cancer: external beam radiation and brachytherapy.

  • External beam radiation delivers a concentrated dose directly to the tumor site.
  • Brachytherapy has less radiation over an extended period than external beam radiation. As a result, both treatments work well for some cancers.

Both external beam radiation and brachy radiotherapy are safe and effective cancer treatment methods. In addition, they’re often combined to maximize effectiveness.


It involves administering biological therapies to stimulate the immune system. Biotherapies can slow down the progression of cancer.

Some biotherapies kill tumors, while others help the body fight off infections. The most common use of biotherapy is to prevent disease after surgery.

When we inject biotherapeutics directly into the tumor, they attach themselves to these cytokine receptors and block them. This stops the growth of cancer and shrinks it down to standard size.

Many biotherapeutics exist, including monoclonal antibodies, antibody fragments, peptides, and vaccines. They’re usually injected intravenously, although some may be inhaled or applied topically.

Cancer and Treatment

After treatment, your cat needs regular visits to monitor its progress and ensure that any side effects are appropriately managed.

Additional treatments may be recommended if your cat doesn’t respond well to treatment. Unfortunately, some cats never recover after initial treatment. Others develop resistance to certain types of treatment.

Your vet may refer you to another specialist if your cat develops complications during treatment. This is especially true if your cat experiences severe pain or discomfort.

When your cat recovers from cancer, it may experience long-term side effects. Common side effects include loss of appetite, weight gain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, difficulty breathing, coughing, sneezing, urinary tract infections, skin problems, mouth sores, skin irritation, and hair loss.

Some cats live longer than expected because of successful treatment. However, some cats die within weeks or months of diagnosis.

Prevention for Feline Cancer

The following tips can help you prevent the occurrence of feline cancer:

  • Feed your cat a healthy, balanced diet. Ensure your cat gets enough protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Keep your cat indoors during cold weather. Cold temperatures can trigger problems such as respiratory infections and kidney failure.
  • Provide plenty of exercise for your cat. Exercise helps maintain a healthy immune system and promotes overall wellness.
  • Avoid giving your cat table scraps. Raw meat, bones, fish, eggs, dairy products, and raw vegetables can contain bacteria that could lead to infection.
  • Do not give your cat flea medication unless instructed by your veterinarian. Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae, which can infect your cat.
  • Vaccinate your cat against rabies. Rabid animals pose a threat to human safety.
  • Clean your cat’s litter box regularly. Litter boxes must be cleaned daily to avoid odors and unpleasant smells.
  • Maintain proper hygiene. Bathe your cat frequently to remove dirt and debris from its fur.
  • Monitor your cat’s behavior. Observe your cat closely for unusual behaviors such as aggression, fearfulness, overgrooming, hiding, sleeping excessively, and eating less than usual.
  • Reduce your cat’s exposure to cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke contains chemicals that can irritate your cat’s lungs and eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cats spayed before six months are seven times less likely to develop mammary tumors than cats spayed after six months.

Cats with cancer tend to live anywhere from six months to two years. Most cats diagnosed with cancer die within a year. Some cats tend to survive much longer than others. Cats with lymphoma, leukemia and mast cell tumors may live for many years. Spaying cats before they’re six months old reduces their risk of developing breast cancer by 70 percent.

Other cancers like mammary carcinomas and skin cancers rarely metastasize, meaning they spread only locally. These cancers tend to be slow growing and cause few symptoms. However, they still carry a poor prognosis.

The cost of treating a pet’s cancer depends on various factors, including the type of cancer involved and the extent of the illness. Treatment costs range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. Treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgical procedures, and combinations.

Chemotherapy alone can cost anywhere from $100 to $400 per session, while radiation therapy can cost anywhere from $200 to $800. In addition, surgical procedures can cost thousands of dollars. These prices don’t include additional expenses like travel, lodging, food, or lost wages. They also don’t account for the emotional toll that dealing with a pet’s cancer takes on the patient and his family members.

Cancer spreads slowly in cats. While it may take months for tumors to form, they tend to remain relatively stable once they do. However, cancer cells can travel to another part of the body via lymphatic vessels. Lymph nodes are located throughout the body and serve as filters for foreign material. These nodes are connected to the bloodstream and lymphatic system, meaning any cancerous cells colonizing these areas spread to other body parts.

The cost of a cat biopsy varies depending on the location of the tumor, the size of the tumor, and the number of tests needed to confirm the diagnosis. It costs anywhere from $250-$500. Most vets charge around $300 per procedure. However, most insurance plans cover the entire procedure cost, but it’s always best to check with your vet to see if additional coverage is available.

A cat has a life expectancy of around 12 to 14 years for cancer.

There is no known cure for cat cancer. However, some treatments may help make cancer less aggressive and prolong the life of a cat with cancer.

Most cats do not seem to be bothered by tumors. However, some may become irritable or develop decreased appetite as cancer grows. In addition, some cats with larger tumors may experience difficulty breathing and pain when lying down due to compression of nearby organs. Cancer treatment typically includes surgery to remove it if it is small enough, radiation therapy if the tumor is large, and cats tolerate chemotherapy if cancer has been diagnosed.

Cats with cancer often feel depressed due to their illness and may need extra care and attention. You can make your cat more comfortable by providing a warm bed, plenty of toys and games, fresh food and water, frequent grooming, and long walks or rides in the car. You can also try treating your cat’s symptoms, such as giving them medication or chemotherapy if prescribed by a doctor.

Cancer means it is not always a death sentence for cats. However, this cat may die due to cancer if the tumor is inoperable or too widespread to treat

There is no easy answer to this question. Each case must be evaluated individually. For example, some people feel it is worth treating a cat with cancer if the tumor appears benign and the cat has clinical signs of illness (for example, fever, weight loss, lethargy). Others feel that treatment would not provide meaningful benefits and might lead to more harm than good.

There is no one answer to this question, as the likelihood of a cat surviving cancer will vary depending on the type and stage of cancer and other factors such as age, weight, diet, and health. However, cats are generally quite resilient when facing various forms of cancer – though they may require professional care throughout their treatment.

The most common cancer in cats is lymphoma, which accounts for about 10% of all cancers diagnosed in cats. Other top cancer may include leukemia (2-3%), non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (1.5-2%), and sarcoma (0.7%).

It is impossible to determine the exact age at which cats develop cancer, as cancers can arise in any cat. However, most cat tumors occur between 3 and 7 years old.

Cat’s cancer will receive veterinary care and may require surgery to remove the tumor. Treatment options for cats with cancer depend on the specific type of cancer, but most commonly, they will be treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Some cats may also have to have their organs removed as part of treatment.

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the cause of stomach cancer in cats remains unknown. However, several factors have been linked with a higher incidence of this type of cancer in felines. These include: eating high-fat foods and overeating; weak intestinal muscle function; an abnormal gene mutation that can predispose cats to develop stomach cancer; and exposure to certain toxins or chemicals (such as tobacco smoke).

Feline leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a virus that can cause leukemia in cats. An infected cat spreads FeLV through contact with saliva, blood, or other body fluids. Symptoms of FeLV-related leukemia may include fever, loss of appetite, increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), weight loss, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, hair loss or balding. Treatment for FeLV-related leukemia typically includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

No known gene predisposes cats to cancer, but a genetic component exists to develop this disease. Cats who inherit a mutation in one of the genes that control their immune system are at an increased risk of developing cancer.

There is no sure way to detect Cancer in cats, but the following are some general tips:

  • If your cat shows any changes in behavior, such as being more restless or seeming to be losing weight rapidly, be sure to take them for a vet checkup. Changes like these could signal health problems that require attention sooner rather than later.
  • Regularly examine your cat’s skin for lesions or skin masses (especially around the head and neck). If you notice anything unusual, please get in touch with your veterinarian right away.

Oral tumor in cats typically does not cause bleeding. However, if the tumor is large or close to the mouth, it may cause drooling and difficulty feeding.

Cancer in cats may cause fever because cancer cells produce heat-producing chemicals.

Several other environmental factors could contribute to cat cancer but have not been conclusively linked with the disease. Some of these include exposure to pesticides and herbicides, ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and a poor diet.

The average cancer treatment lasts around six to eight weeks.

There is no definitive answer to this question, as different breeds of cats are prone to different types of cancer. However, some general trends can be observed in cats regarding their propensity for developing certain cancers. For example, Ragdolls and Siamese cats are more likely than other domestic cat breeds to develop lymphoma (cancer-related to the immune system). At the same time, Persians and British Shorthairs tend to be more prone than other domesticated felines to create various forms of leukemia.

Yes, there are advances in the treatment of feline cancers. Several effective new treatments are available, and researchers continue to find ways to improve these methods.

There is no known cause for the high cancer rates in cats, but several potential reasons have been suggested. One theory suggests that exposure to environmental toxins or other carcinogens might be a contributing factor. Another theory suggests that confident lifestyle choices (like eating too much-processed food) could increase your cat’s risk of developing cancer. Unfortunately, there is still much unknown about the biology of cancer in cats, so further research is needed to determine its actual cause(s).

Disclaimer: The information provided on this veterinary website is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult a licensed veterinarian for any concerns or questions regarding the health and well-being of your pet. This website does not claim to cover every possible situation or provide exhaustive knowledge on the subjects presented. The owners and contributors of this website are not responsible for any harm or loss that may result from the use or misuse of the information provided herein.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *