Cat Mouth Cancer

A squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cause of cat mouth cancer. There are three other types of cancers of the mouth, including fibrosarcoma, lymphoma, and malignant melanoma. Cancer of the mouth can affect the tongue or the throat and move to other areas of the body. Although not all cancers are fatal, if they are not detected early and your cat does not respond well to treatment, fatality is almost certain.

Causes of Cat Mouth Cancer

While the exact cause of mouth cancer in cats is unknown, it is suspected that it could be due to their meticulous grooming habits. There are carcinogens in the air and environment which land on your cat's coat and enter the mouth upon grooming. The carcinogens can cause the cells in the mouth to start dividing and reproducing. As a result, a tumor can be created by the overgrowth of cells.

Symptoms of Cat Mouth Cancer

Even if you check your cat's mouth daily, you may not see any signs of a tumor until it grows into a visibly large mass. However, there are some warnings signs that should not go unnoticed. They include:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating food
  • Bad breath
  • Weakness or sleeping more often than usual

Diagnosis of Cat Mouth Cancer

Cat mouth cancer can initially be difficult to detect if a lump or tumor is not present. However, an irritation or abnormal texture on the inside of your cat's mouth could indicate the process of cancer is beginning.

If a lump or swelling is present, a biopsy can be done to determine if the tumor is cancerous. A biopsy is a procedure in which a piece of tissue is taken from the mouth for further examination under a microscope. This process is done under general anesthesia and poses no threat of pain to your cat.

Once the tumor is determined to be cancerous, further testing known as "chemo assay" may be used. Chemo assay is a procedure that is used to test different chemotherapy drugs against the cancerous cells. This test will identify which types of chemotherapy, if any, will be effective at treating the cancer.

Treatment of Cat Mouth Cancer

Choosing the right method of treatment is completely dependent upon the stage of the cancer. Chemotherapy treatments are only effective at slowing down the progression of the cancer, and are not a cure. There are also some side effects associated with chemotherapy treatment, such as vomiting and hair loss.

If the cancer can be removed surgically, the chances of survival increase. However, depending on the stage of the mouth cancer, it may not be possible to completely remove the cancer. If the cancer cannot be completely removed, it is likely that the cancer will return.

There is a certain amount of pain associated with cancer of the mouth. Because it may be difficult to get your cat to allow you to shove pills down their already hurting throat, there is a transdermal cream available which can be applied topically to the mouth. Additionally, you may want to consider switching to a softer, more palatable food to make eating easier and less painful for your cat.

Prognosis of Cat Mouth Cancer

The prognosis of cat mouth cancer is based on circumstances on a case by case basis. There are a lot of factors that will determine the eventual outcome. If the cancer is caught early enough, the entire mass may be able to be surgically removed. If all cancer can be removed, your cat will have a positive prognosis and a good chance at life. If it cannot, it is likely that chemotherapy treatments will only be effective for a short time.

While there is no way to prevent the onset of cat mouth cancer, being attentive to your cat's symptoms can be a very useful tool in saving their life. Detecting cancer of the mouth early will definitely increase their chances at survival.