Diagnosing Swollen Cat Glands

The cat glands that are most susceptible to swelling are the lymph glands. Lymph nodes are present all over the body and the location of lymph node swelling often determines the type of condition present. The cause of lymph node swelling may be attributed to internal tumors, viral infections such as feline immunodeficiency virus or diseases like ehrlichiosis. Lymph node or cat gland swelling may be first detected during a clinical diagnosis of other symptoms exhibited.

Symptoms Associated with Gland Swelling Include:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Respiratory illnesses
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Discharge
  • Increased urination and thirst
  • Skin and eye infections
  • Anemia

Other Symptoms

Since the symptoms vary according to the cause of swelling, it's important to inform the vet if anything out of the ordinary develops. Cats commonly suffering from lymphoma exhibit clinical symptoms associated with the type of lymphoma present. Multicentric lymphoma, mediastinal lymphoma and alimentary lymphoma are the 3 types of lymphoma that affect cats. If the cat is suffering from ehrlichiosis, he may exhibit symptoms such as fever, joint pain and eye infection.

Diagnosis of Gland Swelling in Cats

The vet will perform a complete physical examination of the cat and detect the presence of swollen lymph nodes around the body. An abdominal palpation will reveal accumulation of fluid in the abdomen or internal swelling. The vet will also evaluate the cat's medical history and examine accompanying clinical symptoms present. A complete blood count test will detect any abnormalities present in the components of blood. The vet will then perform x-rays and ultrasounds to diagnose internal tumors and abnormalities in the organs. Tumors are subjected to fine needle aspirate tests, surgical extraction and biopsy. If the location of the tumor is unsuitable for extraction, the vet may perform fine needle aspirate tests to confirm cancer.

Other Diagnostic Tests

Since lymph node swelling is a symptom of viral diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), the vet will conduct antibody tests to determine the presence of antibodies produced by the cat's immune system. However, since antibody tests don't differentiate active infection from previous exposure, newer tests such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are preferred. A PCR test will detect the presence of certain strains of viral and bacterial infections present in the sample taken from the cat. Samples should be handled with caution to prevent external contamination. PCR tests also provide quick results which enable early treatment. Some tests are often conducted under anesthesia, to prevent pain and discomfort caused during diagnostic testing.

Treatment of Swollen Cat Glands

The treatment is administered according to the disease or condition detected during diagnosis. Lymphomas are usually treated with chemotherapy and surgery. Radiation therapy is also used to slow the progress of cancer. Pets suffering from FIV are administered medication to treat secondary bacterial infections. Supportive care is necessary for severely ill cats. Although many causes of swollen cat glands cannot be prevented, pet owners should vaccinate cats routinely. It's also important to keep sick pets away from healthy cats living in the same household.

The response to treatment of swollen cat glands varies in individual pets. Follow up vet checks are necessary to determine disease progression and alter the treatment accordingly.