cancer in catsCancer…the word itself is unsettling, yet most of us know someone who has been touched by this terrible disease. A cancer diagnosis is equally scary when it concerns a beloved cat. For many cat parents out there, this unfortunate disease can hit too close to home.

A number of symptoms can potentially signal cancer development, so know what to look out for in order to help catch it early. More importantly, learn how to reduce risk before cancer develops. While it is true that cancer cases are not always preventable, there are impactful ways you can reduce your cat’s chances of a cancer diagnosis.

Your team at OVRS is here to help reduce the likelihood of cancer in cats with some essential steps for its prevention.

Cancer in Cats and Its Symptoms

There are several types of cancer, but the most common cancers in cats are:

  • Lymphoma
  • Mammary cancer
  • Skin cancer
  • Leukemia

Cancer develops as uncontrolled cell growth. These abnormal cells can spread to other organs of the body, or remain as an isolated tumor.

Once a cat reaches the age of 10, there is a 50% likelihood that they will be affected by some form of cancer. This rate seems alarming, but it is attributed to our cats living much longer lives than their ancestors decades ago.

Depending on the type of cancer, certain key signs may be present, which include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lumps or bumps under the skin
  • General lethargy

As with any worrisome symptom that you observe, it is important to call your veterinarian and have your cat examined. Early detection is critical in treating cancer and prolonging the life of your pet.

Reducing the Risk of Cancer

There is no surefire way of avoiding cancer in pets, but there are steps you can take in reducing the risk.

  1. Vaccinate your cat against feline leukemia virus. Both lymphoma and leukemia have been linked to this virus. One of the simplest and most effective measures you can take is to have your cat vaccinated.
  2. Maintain annual wellness examinations. Keeping tabs on your pet’s good health is something those of us who love pets strive for. There are many health issues that may predispose your cat to a form of cancer. Your annual exam is a great way to help stave off problems before they develop into something more serious, like cancer.
  3. Spay or neuter your cat. Unaltered cats have a significantly increased risk of mammary and testicular cancers.
  4. Feed your cat a healthy diet. Poor nutrition and obesity can increase your cat’s chances of not only developing cancer but also many other diseases. Talk to your veterinarian about the right diet and weight for your purry pal.
  5. Keep a close watch on health changes. Is your pet losing weight? Have you noticed a lump? Does your pet seem off? Follow up any changes in health or behavior with a thorough examination.

Oakland Veterinary Referral Services works diligently to help our pet cancer patients through a personalized, compassionate approach to treatment. Our aim is to offer our pet families hope and support. If your pet has been diagnosed, we are here for you, your sweet pet, and referring veterinarian to coordinate the very best care.

For more information about cancer in cats and its prevention, please do not hesitate to call.