lymphoma in cats

What is Lymphoma in Cats?

What is it?

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system in cats. It can occur in any age or breed of cat but is more commonly seen in older cats. The cause of lymphoma in cats is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to genetic factors and exposure to certain environmental factors.

How is it Treated?

Treatment of lymphoma in cats can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of both. Treatment aims to induce remission or control the disease for as long as possible. Prognosis and treatment options depend on various factors, including the type and stage of lymphoma, the age and overall health of the cat, and the owner’s willingness and ability to pursue treatment.

Breed Predispositions

Certain breeds, such as Siamese and domestic shorthair cats, may have a slightly increased risk of developing lymphoma. 


When Sarah first brought home her rescue cat, Jasper, she was committed to giving him the best life possible. Regular vet visits, playtime, and a healthy diet were all part of the plan. However, a few months into their journey together, Sarah noticed that Jasper seemed to be losing weight and appeared lethargic. Concerned, she made an appointment with their veterinarian. After a series of tests, Sarah was given the heartbreaking news: Jasper had been diagnosed with lymphoma.

Lymphoma is a cancerous tumor that starts in the cells of the immune system. Cats are prone to developing lymphoma because of their genetic makeup. Domestic shorthair cats are especially susceptible to lymphoma because they lack a gene called Rag1. This gene helps prevent lymphocytes from becoming malignant.

Lymphoma is aggressive cancer that occurs most often in older domestic cats. However, it is the most common cancer found in adult felines. Cats are usually diagnosed with lymphoma because they develop enlarged lymph nodes around the abdomen, neck, and head. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Types of Lymphoma in Cats

There are two types of lymphomas: Hodgkin’s disease (HD) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). HD is most common in cats over ten years old, whereas NHL is most common in younger cats.

Both types of lymphoma may be inherited, meaning that some cats are genetically predisposed to develop them. Other risk factors include exposure to certain chemicals, radiation therapy, and infections.

Causes of Lymphoma in Cats

Cats develop lymphoma when their immune system fails to recognize cancerous cells as foreign invaders. This happens when their body cannot fight off infections and diseases. Lymphoma is often found in older cats, especially those over ten years old. It is a cancerous tumor that develops in lymph nodes.

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) cause lymphoma. These viruses are spread via saliva and urine. They can also be transmitted through blood transfusions or sharing needles for injections. Exposure to FeLV or FIPV increases the risk of developing the disease.

Cats infected with FeLV have a higher risk of developing lymphoma than those without the virus. The same holds for FIV-positive cats.

Causes of Lymphoma in Cats

Other factors include genetics, age, breed, diet, lifestyle, stress, and exposure to environmental toxins.

Symptoms of Lymphoma in Cats

Gastrointestinal lymphomas are the most common type of feline lymphoma. This is one of the most common types of lymphoma found in cats; 50% to 70% of felines are affected. They affect older cats and are most commonly located in the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, cecum, and colon. These tumors grow slowly and cause weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Other symptoms include lethargy, weakness, fever, coughing, sneezing, lack of appetite, depression, excessive drinking, and urination. In addition, cats sometimes develop enlarged abdominal organs such as the liver and kidneys.

Mediastinal lymphomas occur primarily in young cats and are usually found near the heart. They are less common than gastrointestinal lymphomas and are typically associated with poor immune function.

Signs include difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, labored breathing, increased respiratory effort during exercise, and rapid heartbeat. If left untreated, mediastinal lymphomas can lead to death within weeks.

Renal lymphomas are rare in cats. They are thought to originate in the kidney and spread to nearby tissues. Symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, dehydration, blood in urine, pain around the urethra, and sudden onset of blindness.

Diagnosis of Feline Lymphoma

When diagnosing lymphoma in cats, it’s essential to rule out other conditions first. This is especially true if you suspect the cat has leukemia.

A veterinarian might recommend diagnostic tests such as x-rays, ultrasound scans, and biopsies to help diagnose lymphoma in cats.



X-ray images show if any tumors and abnormalities are growing in the bones, lungs, heart, spleen, pancreas, liver, kidneys, bladder, intestines, or other internal organs.

If your cat needs X-rays, bring them in early enough to allow adequate time for the exam. The earlier you take your cat in for an x-ray, the better the chance of catching any abnormalities.

When taking X-rays, ask your veterinarian to use the lowest possible dose. This helps protect your pet’s health and reduces radiation exposure.

Remember to ask your vet about the risks associated with X-rays. Some cats may experience mild discomfort during the procedure, but most find it painless. Your veterinarian should tell you when to expect results and when to return to pick up your cat.


If you suspect your cat has lymphoma, your veterinarian may recommend a biopsy. This involves taking tissue samples from suspicious areas of the body. Your vet will use a needle to remove cells from the affected area. Then they will send these cells to be examined under a microscope.

This process helps confirm the presence of lymphoma. Once verified, your vet will discuss treatment options with you.


Ultrasounds are used to diagnose lymphomas in cats. Ultrasounds are painless, noninvasive tests that use sound waves to create images of internal organs. They’re safe, inexpensive, and relatively quick.

Ultrasounds are especially useful for detecting tumors because they can detect masses deep within the body. This makes them ideal for diagnosing cancers that are hard to find, such as those in the abdominal cavity.

Ultrasound exams are usually performed by veterinarians who specialize in ultrasound imaging. The veterinarian uses a handheld transducer to send ultrasonic waves through the cat’s body. These waves bounce off any abnormalities and return to the transducer, where they are converted into electrical signals.

These signals are sent to a computer screen, which creates an image of the inside of the cat’s body. The photo shows the location and size of any abnormal tissue, allowing the vet to determine whether there is a mass, cyst, tumor, abscess, fluid collection, or other abnormality.


When diagnosing cat lymphomas, veterinarians use cytological (cell) analysis to examine cells taken from the cat’s body fluids. This test helps identify whether the cells are malignant (cancerous).

A veterinarian collects a fluid sample from the cat’s mouth, nose, throat, or abdomen to perform this test. Then, he smears the piece onto glass slides and examines them under a microscope.

If the cells appear abnormal, the vet may take another sample and repeat the process. He may also order additional tests, such as blood work, ultrasound imaging, biopsy, or surgery.

This test is most commonly used to diagnose lymphoma in cats. However, it can be used to detect any cancer.

Flow Cytometry

Flow cytometry is a diagnostic test to detect cancer cells in blood samples. Flow cytometry uses light scattering properties of particles suspended in the fluid to identify different types of cells.

Cancerous cells contain abnormal proteins called antigens that cause them to scatter light differently than normal cells. This difference in light scattering allows flow cytometers to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy cells.

Flow cytometry is often combined with immunohistochemistry (IHC) to confirm results. Immunohistochemistry involves staining tissue sections with antibodies specific to antigens found only in cancer cells. Then, the stained tissue is examined microscopically to determine whether any cancer cells are present.


Histopathology is the study of tissue samples taken during biopsies. The goal is to determine whether the cells are cancerous or benign (noncancerous). This helps vets decide whether treatment should be administered or not.

When performing histopathology, there are two main methods: frozen sectioning and paraffin embedding. Frozen sectioning involves taking small pieces of tissue and freezing them quickly. Then, the sample is sliced at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) and examined under a microscope.

Paraffin embedding requires cutting the tissue into thin sections and placing them onto slides. Next, these slides are placed in a hot oven where the wax melts and hardens. Once hardened, the fall is stained and examined under a microscope for signs of cancer.

Treatment for Lymphoma in Felines

Cats with lymphoma often have a longer life expectancy if diagnosed early. This is because chemotherapy drugs kill off healthy and diseased cells, including those that cause tumors. With early detection, cats can live up to 10 years beyond what is considered normal for their breed. Here are the following treatments for cats with lymphoma.


Chemotherapy is the standard treatment for lymphomas. Depending on the type of lymphoma, chemotherapy can take several forms. Some patients receive infusions of drugs directly into the bloodstream, while others are given intravenous doses of medication. Others undergo radiation therapy. For many people, chemotherapy is followed by additional immunotherapy or stem cell transplantation treatments. About 50 to 70% of cats treated go remission as lymphoma responds to chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is sometimes used to treat lymphomas. This involves placing radioactive material inside your cat’s body. Sometimes, it is used alone, but frequently it is combined with chemotherapy.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is often suggested if there is no chance of a cure. Patients with lymphoma may experience fatigue, pain, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, and even bleeding. They may require hospitalization during treatment.

Multidrug Protocols

Multidrug protocols are commonly used in the initial stages of treatment. These involve combining different chemotherapy drugs to increase effectiveness against the tumor cells. However, factors may change the regimen to include newer medications if the disease progresses.

Prevention for Cat Lymphoma

A vaccine against the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can prevent the development of lymphoma. In addition, testing cats for both viruses can help detect early signs of infection. Here are the other things you can do to prevent lymphoma from developing in your cats.

  • Be Aware of Environmental Toxins

Toxic substances can damage cats’ livers, kidneys, and central nervous systems. These poisonous substances include heavy metals, solvents, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides.

Some familiar sources of exposure to these toxins include food, water, air, soil, plants, and household cleaning supplies. Make sure that your cat does not consume any of these items.

  • Avoid Pesticides and Fertilizers

Pesticide residues and fertilizer runoff can contaminate the environment and enter waterways. As a result, these substances threaten the health of wildlife and humans.

Ensure you avoid using pesticide sprays or fertilizers near your house or yard. Instead, choose organic alternatives whenever possible.

  • Monitor Your Cat’s

A protein-rich diet can promote the growth of lymphocytes, which are abnormal white blood cells that can become cancerous.

In addition, diets high in carbohydrates and fats can encourage the proliferation of tumor cells. Therefore, it is recommended that you feed your cat a balanced diet consisting of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains.

  • Check Your Pet’s Vaccination Records

Vaccines are practical tools used to prevent infectious diseases. However, vaccines can sometimes cause side effects, including fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and seizures.

You must monitor your cat’s vaccination records closely. Any signs of unusual behavior should prompt further investigation.

  • Seek Medical Attention Early

Early diagnosis and treatment of lymphoma in cats can significantly improve the chances of survival. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat exhibits symptoms associated with lymphomas, such as coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, neck, or abdomen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! It’s worth it if you want your cat to live longer and have a better quality of life. Many cats that receive chemotherapy live for many more years than those who do not receive it. However, as with any medical procedure or treatment, risks are involved, and you should discuss this with your veterinarian before making any decisions.

Most cats typically live about 12 to 18 months with lymphoma on steroids, though some may live longer. However, because treatment options constantly evolve, giving a specific time frame is challenging.

The first sign of lymphoma in cats is usually when they lose weight. This could be due to their appetite decreasing or having trouble eating. They might also have diarrhea or vomiting. Other symptoms include coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, lack of energy, and depression. However, the most common symptom of lymphoma in cats is enlarged lymph nodes.

You should consider if your pet is old enough to die from cancer. If your pet is over ten years old, they are thought old, and the chances of survival are very low. The best way to determine this is to check their age on the vet’s records.

You can ask the veterinarian how long your pet will live. Pets younger than three years usually have a good chance of surviving cancer. However, pets older than ten years have a much lower chance of surviving cancer.

If your pet is young (3 years or less), you can still do some things to help them survive cancer. First, make sure that your pet gets regular veterinary care. This includes regularly checking their weight, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and breathing. Also, make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise every day. Exercise helps keep your pet healthy and strong.

In addition, make sure that your cat eats a balanced diet. Cats who eat too many fatty foods are at risk for developing diabetes. Finally, talk to your veterinarian about changes in your pet’s behavior. Your pet might start acting differently because of illness. For example, sick cats often become lethargic and lose interest in food and playtime.

The disease is slowly growing and rarely spreads outside the lymphatic system. However, some types of lymphoma apply to other body areas, such as bone marrow, liver, spleen, brain, skin, eyes, lungs, kidneys, heart, thyroid gland, pancreas, testicles, ovaries, and prostate.

The prognosis for lymphoma depends on many factors, including age at diagnosis, cancer stage, histology, and response to therapy. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, immunotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and targeted therapies.

The five-year survival rates for patients with HL and NHL are 80% and 50%, respectively. However, these numbers vary depending on the type of lymphoma and the stage at diagnosis. Patients who are diagnosed early usually have a higher chance of surviving than those who are diagnosed late.

Lymphoma may be hereditary in cats. In addition, lymphomas can occur due to several factors, including genetics and environmental exposures. Therefore, the cause of any given case of lymphoma cannot always be determined with certainty.

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system in cats. It is considered uncommon, but it can occur anytime and may be diagnosed when a cat shows signs or symptoms such as weight loss, fever, difficulty breathing, or enlarged lymph nodes. Treatment usually involves chemotherapy and radiation therapy. If the tumor is not treated, it may spread to other body parts and cause death.

Nasal lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the nasal passages. It most often occurs in cats, but it can also occur in other animals. Nasal lymphoma is not common, and it usually only becomes apparent when the cat starts to lose weight or has difficulty breathing.

Unfortunately, there is not currently a vaccine that can be used to avoid lymphoma in cats, but there are certain things people can do to help reduce the chances of their cat developing this cancer. One good way to help protect your cat from lymphoma is by regularly spaying and neutering them.

This will significantly reduce the number of female and male cats with access to reproductive organs, increasing the likelihood of getting an infection that causes leukemia. In addition, eating a healthy diet and avoiding exposure to chemicals or other carcinogens may also help lower your cat’s risk of defecating lymphoma.

Possible, but not every day. In cats with lymphoma, cancer may spread to the eyes and cause blindness. However, this is rare. It is often a secondary effect of other problems related to lymphomas in cats, such as difficulty breathing or blood clots in the lungs.

Yes, lymphoma can be misdiagnosed in cats. Lymphoma is a lymphatic system cancer that typically affects dogs but has also been reported in cats. Cats cannot speak, so it can be challenging to determine if they have the disease. It is essential to have your cat checked out by a veterinarian ASAP if you notice any changes in their behavior, such as being lethargic or refusing to eat or drink.

In general, lymphoma is more aggressive in cats than in dogs. This is because lymphoma can spread quickly through the body and affect many different organs. In addition, cats often experience incredible difficulty with treatment because their lungs are smaller and weaker than dogs.

Unfortunately, this question has no definitive answer as it depends on the individual cat and the specific type of gastrointestinal lymphoma. Unfortunately, cats may experience mild digestive discomfort, while others may experience more severe symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty eating or drinking, weight loss, and fever. Some cats may also exhibit signs such as an enlarged stomach or liver; a decreased appetite; increased thirst; clayey stools (diarrhea); blood in the feces or urine; lethargy; seizures; rapid breathing or heart rate; and death. Please consult a veterinarian if your cat shows any signs of gastrointestinal lymphoma (or if you have other questions about its health).

There is no definitive answer, but it seems unlikely. Lymphoma in cats can occasionally be transmitted to other cats through close contact, but the risk appears to be very small.

Most renal lymphoma in cats is not painful and may cause occasional mild to moderate weight loss. However, if cancer progresses or spreads, it can become more painful. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove cancer.

There is no definitive answer to this question. However, renal lymphoma can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Infections: Some viruses (e.g., feline leukemia) can cause cat renal lymphoma. Other infections (such as toxoplasmosis) may also lead to the development of kidney cancer. In addition, certain types of bacteria (e.g., E Coli) have been linked with the development of renal lymphoma in cats and other animals.
  • Toxins: Certain environmental toxins (e.g., benzene) can damage the kidneys and lead to cancer. Animal carcinogens (such as cigarette smoke) also can cause renal lymphoma in cats.
  • Genetics: Renal lymphoma may sometimes be inherited in cats.

Some viruses can cause renal lymphoma in cats.

Cutaneous lymphoma in cats is a type of cancer that affects the skin. The tumor may form anywhere on the body but often appears near the hair follicles or under the skin.

Some of the best ways to cure lymphoma in cats naturally may vary depending on the specific case. However, some tips that may help include:

  1. Working with a holistic veterinarian who can prescribe targeted treatments based on your cat’s health history and symptoms;
  2. Boosting your cat’s immune system with supplements and other conventional therapies (such as antibiotics) when needed; and
  3. Providing them with plenty of fresh, clean water and healthy food options.

Cats can reduce their risk of developing lymphoma by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding pollutants and other toxins.

Unfortunately, there is no specific vaccine for feline lymphoma, but vaccines are available to help prevent other types of cancers in cats. In addition, some veterinarians vaccinate cats against the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) as an added precaution.

This vaccine is generally given to kittens at two weeks of age and again six months later. The FeLV vaccine can also protect some cats from other types of leukemia, so it is essential to talk with your veterinarian about which version would be best for your cat.

The cost of treating feline lymphoma can vary depending on the chosen treatment plan. However, some common treatments that may be used with other therapies and radiation therapy include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Treatment typically costs between $10,000 – $25,000 per animal.

The life expectancy after treating lymphoma in cats will vary depending on various factors, including the type and stage of lymphoma, the treatment plan used, and the cat’s overall health. Some cats who receive treatment for lymphoma may live for several years, while others may die within months or weeks after diagnosis.

The prognosis for lymphoma is often excellent but can vary depending on the type of lymphoma and how advanced it is. Overall, the outlook is good when treatment is started early and adequate treatments are pursued throughout the illness.

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.

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