Common Tumors in Cats

Tumors in cats may appear in young pets and old, as well as across genders and breeds. Although a good number of tumors are benign and often harmless, a feline brain tumor, squamous cell carcinoma or mast cell tumors are all types of malignant ones. Tumors come in a variety of shapes, sizes and types. However, recognizing the most common tumors and knowing what signs and symptoms to look for in your cat will help you to react quickly and to treat your cat with the proper care.

Common Cat Tumor Types

Lymph node cancer is the highest occurring cancer type in cats, while skin cancer is the second highest. A cat lump has about a 25% chance of being a neoplast, about 25% of which are benign tumors. Other common tumefactions in cats include the following:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma, which appears in the mouth
  • Osteosarcoma, a cancer with effects similar to arthritis, which affects the bones
  • Breast cancer, which is most common in unspayed females

If your cat develops a tumor or you notice an unusual growth anywhere on his body, take him to a veterinarian for immediate examination. A cancer diagnosis will include a physical examination and analysis of medical history, blood sampling and tests, and a biopsy of the tumor.

Recognizing Tumors in Cats

Some feline tumors develop slowly, while others appear and grow in a very short period of time. Monitor your cat for any of the following symptoms of tumor growth:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Halitosis
  • Difficulty walking or moving, particularly a limp in one leg
  • Weight loss or distended stomach
  • Swollen lymph nodes

It's a good idea to examine your cat once or twice per month for tumor growth. Begin by petting your cat and calming him, and then gently examine his entire body, feeling for any changes or lumps. If you notice any suspicious symptoms or areas, or if you have any other reason to believe that your cat may have a growing tumor, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian immediately.

Treating Tumors in Cats

Most benign tumors may be surgically removed. In some cases, the surgery to remove a benign tumor may outweigh the benefits of excising it. In this situation, speak with your veterinarian to discuss the best treatment options.

Malignant tumors grow quickly and have the potential to metastasize and attack other parts of your cat's body. Treating malignant tumors depends significantly upon the stage of development of the tumor. If the tumor is small, well-located, and if it has not metastasized, it may also be removed by surgery. However, cancerous tumors that have grown and spread may require more intensive treatment programs.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are increasingly common treatment methods for cats with cancerous tumors. Both of these treatments are potentially damaging to your cat, and require substantial after-care and work on the part of the pet owner.

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and other warning signs of tumor growth in your cat, and react promptly in order to offer him the best chances of a full recovery.