Feline Lymphoma Symptoms

By recognizing the symptoms of feline lymphoma, you'll help your cat receive treatment as early as possible. Lymphoma remains the most common form of cancer in cats, with the average life expectancy after symptoms averaging six months. Some cats do survive the disease longer, but this depends on the location of the cancer, the treatment plan and the stage in which it is discovered.

What is Feline Lymphoma

This feline cancer grows in the lymph node system attacking the portions of the body that manage the immune system. Usually, the cancerous growths develop in lymph nodes, bone marrow and organs like the liver and spleen. In other forms of feline lymphoma, like the very common intestinal lymphoma, cancerous growths do not always appear, instead the cancerous cells thicken the lining of the intestines causing symptoms extremely similar to inflammatory bowel disease.

Veterinary experts once believed that the feline leukemia virus caused feline lymphoma. However, vaccinations led to a decrease in animals diagnosed with feline leukemia. Despite this decrease, feline lymphoma cases have not decreased. Other theories on the cause of the disease range from inadequate diet to the cat living in a home with smokers. Tufts University's veterinary teaching hospital found cats exposed to secondhand smoke had a 300 percent higher chance of developing this feline cancer.

Symptoms of Feline Intestinal Lymphoma (Alimentary)

Feline intestinal lymphoma is often referred to as an alimentary form of this cancer. Alimentary affects the digestive system and lymph nodes around that area. Experts believe there is no link between this form and feline leukemia. If a cat is leukemia free, there is a chance the cat will recover after undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Often, a cat that does not receive treatment has a life expectancy of six months. The intestinal form of this cancer generally affects cats ten and older.

Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of Chest Cavity Lymphoma (Mediastinal)

Associated with cats diagnosed with feline leukemia, the mediastinal form of lymphoma generally causes growths within the chest cavity and lymph nodes in that area. As the mass grows, the cat will experience breathing difficulties. Other symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulties with activity including chasing objects
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Symptoms of Feline Nasal Lymphoma (Multicentric)

Feline nasal lymphoma attacks the lining of the nasal cavity. Symptoms go unnoticed for years making it harder to treat the cancer. Most cats develop feline nasal lymphoma when they are young.

Symptoms depend on how advanced the growths have become but may include:

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Heavy breathing
  • Loud snoring
  • Runny nose

This form of multicentric feline cancer generally is caught late and by that point chances of a cat's survival are low. If treatment is used, expect both radiation and chemotherapy. If caught early, radiation is often effective and cats may go one to live for years. Many multicentric cancers link to feline leukemia.

Renal Lymphoma Symptoms

Sometimes, lymphoma attacks the kidneys leading to renal failure. Symptoms of this cancer include:

  • Anemia
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss