Bone Cancer in Cats


Bone cancer in cats is an extremely rare form of cancer in cats; affecting roughly one half of a percent of all cats. Bone cancer occurs when a tumor actually develops inside of the bone and continues to grow. This form of bone cancer is known as osteosarcoma.

Bone cancer can be very detrimental to cats when it develops because the tumor can actually cause the bones to crumble and inhibit any further growth. It is likewise considered to be a very progressive form of cancer because of the rate at which it multiplies and spreads. Because bone cancer can present some serious problems in your cat, the prognosis is always best when it is detected and treated early on.

Signs to Watch For

Although bone cancer is rare, it does occur and still warrants treatment. The best way to be abreast of what this type of cancer can do to your cat is to be aware of the signs. Unfortunately bone cancer is usually pretty far progressed by the time that the signs can be visibly seen. However, if any of the following signs are noticed, it should prompt immediate medical evaluation:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Arthritis-like condition of the joints
  • Painful appearance of walking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Loss of interest in normal activities

The important thing to remember about bone cancer is that it typically displays symptoms that are consistent with any other type of cancer; namely being extremely tired and an unaccounted for loss of weight.

Diagnosis of Bone Cancer

Because the symptoms of feline bone cancer can be consistent with arthritis and other forms of cancer, it is likely that your cat will be required to have a complete body scan. The body scan is similar to an x-ray in that it will look for tumors and conditions of arthritis throughout the body.

Bone cancer is typically very verifiable through the use of x-ray, but an additionally biopsy of the suspected area will be used to confirm that the tumor present is in fact malignant. Once the tumor is confirmed to be malignant, a proper diagnosis of bone cancer can be made.

Treatment Options

There are several options available for the treatment of bone cancer. However, the method of treatment that is chosen will be dependent upon the current stage of the cancer and whether or not it has spread to other areas of the body.

When the tumor in the bone is so large that surgical removal appears to be the only option, the surgical procedure may be attempted. However, if the affected area is located in one of the limbs and appears to be too large to save the limb, the complete amputation of the limb may be required.

Surgery is usually the most viable option for cases of bone cancer. However, chemotherapy is often used to treat the specific tumor if it has not spread and the cancer was caught early enough. In cases where the limb must be amputated, radiation may still be used to ensure that the cancer is not able to spread.