Feline Lung Cancer Symptoms

Lung cancer in felines can be primary, when the cancerous tissues have developed in the lung area first, or secondary, when the disease has spread from another part of the body. The lung cancer symptoms in felines can be visible as the disease progresses.

Causes of Lung Cancer

A clear cause for lung cancer hasn't been discovered yet. However, lung cancer in cats has been linked to smoking environments and cats exposed to smoke.

There are 2 types of lung cancer:

  • Primary, which originates from cancerous cells that grow in the lung tissues or the bronchioles
  • Secondary, which occurs in other parts of the body and metastizes to the lungs

Lung Cancer Symptoms

During the early stages of the disease, lung cancer will manifest itself as a common feline upper respiratory infection. The cat will have a dry cough and will be less active. If the cancer originates in other parts of the body, the coughing will not be present in the initial stages of the disease.

As the disease advances, the cat will display the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy - the cat lacks the energy to perform normal activities, so he will sleep more and move slower while awake
  • Weight loss, due to the lack of appetite
  • Generalized weakness
  • Dry coughing, and in some cases, coughing of blood
  • Lameness due to the general weak condition; the cat may be reluctant to go up the stairs, jump or perform regular movements
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hiding behavior
  • Depression
  • Excessive meowing, even during nighttime, as lung cancer may also cause anxiety that will lead to insomnia
  • Behavior changes, aggressiveness or biting and scratching when the cat is teased; this is due to the pain and the anxiety that occurs when the cat is ill

In more advanced cases of lung cancer, there will be accumulation of fluid in the lung tissues (pleural effusion). Towards the final stages of lung cancer, the disease will affect the lungs, and the cat will have very little healthy lung tissue left. This will create breathing problems and the cat may die from respiratory arrest.

If the cancer has started in other parts of the body, there may be symptoms that are related to tumors or carcinomas located in other organs or parts of the body: vomiting, digestive problems, lumps or swellings on the skin, bleeding lesions that take a long time to heal, a change in the urination and defecation habits, unexplained bleeding or discharges from different orifices of the body, bad odor of the breath and skin.

Treatment Options

The stage of the cancer must be established before starting the treatment. If possible, the tumor must be removed. If the tumor affects only one lung lobe, the vet may remove the entire lobe.

The typical treatment of cancer includes chemotherapy, which will stop the cancerous cells from developing. Chemotherapy can be effective, but only post surgery. Radiation therapy may also be recommended. This will focus on relieving the pain. If the cat has pleural effusion, the liquid must be removed from the lungs.