Caring for Cats with Cancer

Caring for cats with cancer properly can help improve their chances of survival. Read on to find out what you should know about caring for cats with cancer.

Keep All Veterinary Appointments

Your vet and his health care team are best equipped to help you plan your cat's cancer treatment. Cancer treatments can vary widely from patient to patient, depending on each cat's individual needs, their overall state of health, the stage of their cancer and the type of their cancer. Your cat's cancer treatment plan may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery and supportive care. If you decide not to treat your cat's cancer, then your vet can help you keep your cat as comfortable as possible during his last days. 

Radiation Therapy for Feline Cancer

Radiation therapy is often administered to help reduce the size of inoperable tumors. Your cat will be placed under anesthesia during radiation therapy to keep him from moving about during the treatment. Radiation therapy inhibits cancer cells' ability to reproduce, so it can gradually remove tumors over time as cancer cells die off and are not replaced by new ones. Radiation therapy is usually spread out over a long period of time; small doses of radiation are administered to minimize side effects, like burns on the skin of the treatment area. 

Chemotherapy for Feline Cancer

Chemotherapy drugs are often used in caring for cats with cancer. Cats may experience chemotherapy side effects such as nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, low immunity and lethargy. Your vet will administer low doses of drugs infrequently to try to minimize side effects.

Surgery for Feline Cancer

Surgery is a popular treatment for feline cancer, especially if tumors are operable and cancer can be completely removed. Cryosurgery, radiosurgery, laser surgery and scalpel surgery may all be options for surgically removing cancerous tumors from your cat. Your vet may remove a large amount of healthy tissue along with the tumor. This is to help keep the tumor from coming back, and to make sure that the entire tumor is removed, since it can be difficult to determine where the cancerous tumor ends and the healthy tissue begins. 

Caring for Your Cat during Cancer Treatment

The way you care for your cat at home can make a big difference to the success of his cancer treatment. Your cat will need a high quality, easily digestible diet to help keep his strength up. Cats with cancer often have poor appetites, so caring for them might involve tempting them with tasty treats, administering appetite stimulating drugs or inserting a feeding tube. 

If your cat is weakened from treatment, turning and massaging him regularly can help maintain proper circulation and prevent bedsores. Give your cat soft bedding. Your cat may have trouble getting in and out of the litter box, so offer a box with very low sides. 

Groom your cat daily; he may be too depressed to do it himself. Wash his face after he eats. Keep him warm, minimize his stress and offer him plenty of affection.

If you decide not to treat your cat's cancer, pain medications can help ease his symptoms. Proper nutrition and good nursing care can help your cat enjoy the best possible quality of life in his final days.