Bowel Cancer Symptoms in Cats

Bowel cancer symptoms in cats can mimic the symptoms of other feline bowel problems, including infections, parasitic infestations and problems with digestion. Bowel cancer is relatively rare in felines, but bowel symptoms should always be examined by a vet. Read on to learn more about feline bowel cancer. 

Feline Colon Cancer Symptoms

The symptoms of bowel cancer in cats usually appear slowly, as the disease progresses. Unfortunately, once the symptoms of bowel cancer have become apparent, the disease is often too far advanced to treat successfully. Symptoms of feline bowel cancer generally include:

  • Increased frequency of defecation
  • Pain with defecation
  • Blood or mucous in the feces
  • Difficult defecation

Bacterial, viral and fungal infections of the colon can also cause symptoms similar to those of bowel cancer in cats. So can digestive upsets and parasitic infestations of the intestines. 

Diagnosing Bowel Cancer in Cats

Your vet will want to perform a wide range of tests to rule out other possible causes of your cat's bowel symptoms. Take a stool sample with you to your cat's veterinary appointment to help the vet rule out the possibility of bacterial, fungal, viral or parasitic infection. Your vet may want to take blood and urine samples to test for infection. He may prescribe your cat antibiotics or other medication to see if drugs can treat your cat's symptoms. Cat bowel cancer isn't very common, so it will most likely be the very last thing your vet looks for, once other causes of your cat's symptoms have been ruled out.

If your cat's tests indicate that he doesn't have an infection, and any prescribed medications fail to resolve your cat's symptoms, then he may have bowel cancer. X-rays or ultrasounds can alert your vet to the presence of any cancerous tumors in your cat's large intestine. These same tests can help your vet determine whether or not the cancer has already spread to other organs in your cat's body. Biopsies will be necessary to confirm that your cat's tumors are malignant.

Treating Colon Cancer in Cats

If your cat's bowel cancer is caught early and hasn't yet spread to other parts of his body, then surgery may be an effective treatment option. A veterinary surgeon will remove any cancerous tumors, and a portion of the healthy tissue around them, to prevent relapse. 

If your cat's cancer has already spread, then his prognosis will be very poor. Chemotherapy may be able to slow or stop the growth of tumors, but colon cancer in cats becomes much harder to treat after it has already spread to other parts of the body. 

Bowel cancer in cats carries a high rate of recurrence, so even if your cat's cancer is diagnosed and treated before it spreads, it could easily come back. If your cat's bowel cancer comes back, it can spread just as quickly to other organs in his body. Most cats diagnosed with bowel cancer don't survive for more than a year after being diagnosed.