Feline Cancer: Twelve Warning Signs You Should Know

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Feline cancer is on the rise, mostly because our kitties are living longer.  Although diseases like feline lymphoma used to be a death sentence for cats, recent advances in veterinary care have added years onto the lives of many kitties diagnosed with cancer.  However, discovering tumors in cats while they’re still small is very important, as early treatment increases survival rates. 

Twelve Warning Signs Of Feline Cancer

1. Any kind of unusual swellings or lumps in cats, especially if they’re getting bigger, or changing shape, are cause for concern.

2. Weight loss, even though your feline friend is eating normally.

3. Your kitty is having a hard time eating or swallowing.  He may not have much of an appetite, either.

4. Swollen lymph nodes are a symptom of felne lymphoma.  Your kitty has lymph nodes throughout his body, but the ones behind his knee and under his jaw are the easiest ones for cat owners to find. 

5. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea may be due to tumors in cats, especially if the tumor is located in the gastrointestinal tract.

6. Unexplained bleeding or a strange discharge from the mouth, nose, penis, vagina or gums should be investigated by your vet as soon as possible.

7. Straining to urinate or defecate can be a symptom of feline urinary tract infections, or feline constipation.  In an older feline, it may be a symptom of cancer in cats.

8. A dry, persistent, non-productive cough can be a symptom of feline lung cancer, especially if your kitty is having trouble breathing.  There are many reasons a cat might cough, so it’s best to have it checked out by your vet.

9. Bad breath in cats has a number of causes, including sinus infections, but it can be a sign of feline oral cancer. 

10. Although we all slow down as we get older, general tiredness or loss of stamina is another symptom to watch for. 

11. An easy-going kitty who suddenly turns grouchy and wants to be left alone may be in pain.  A sudden change in temperament shouldn’t be ignored.

12. A sick cat will tend to hide itself away.  This is a survival mechanism in the wild, as a sick cat hides from predators until it’s recovered.  If your kitty has suddenly become reclusive, a check-up is in order.

Pet Your Cat Often

Spend time every day petting and stroking your cat.  Watch for suspicious lumps anywhere on your kitty’s body, including his back, legs, mouth, and under his neck.  On a female cat, check for lumps on her belly, as this could be a symptom of feline breast cancer.

If you find a lump, make note of:

  • Where it’s located, and how big it is 
  • Whether it’s soft or hard
  • If it causes your kitty discomfort when you touch it. 
  • What it looks and smells like.  Is the lump bleeding, oozing, or ulcerated?  Does it smell bad?

A benign lump usually grows slowly and has well-defined edges, but any lump should be evaluated by your vet. If your kitty has a lump that suddenly gets bigger, or starts bleeding, or is painful to your cat, take him to the vet for a check-up as soon as possible.

Feline cancer is one of the leading causes of death in older cats.  Knowing the symptoms will help to find it earlier, which increases the chances that treatment will be successful for your kitty.


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