Symptoms and signs of cancer in pets and humans depend largely upon the organ or the tissue that has developed cancer cells. For example, the symptoms of liver cancer in cats and dogs are far removed from the symptoms of oral cancer. Cats with cancer of the digestive system will show signs of vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia while a lump in the peripheral skin indicates lymph cancer. Some cancers are highly progressive and spread very fast. The first tool in your hands is to educate yourself and be aware of all the symptoms properly. Timely approach to treatment is the only way to prolong and make life comfortable for your cat.
Cats should be groomed regularly. Stroking and petting all over the body serves two purposes - it lets you know of any abnormal changes that might be occurring in your cat’s body, and it helps in building an emotional bond between you and your cat.
Older cats should be taken to a specialist for annual check-ups. There are ten signs that are commonly understood to be indicative of cancer, including feline cancer and upon noticing them they should be brought to the notice of a veterinary oncologist without fail.
- Swollen lymph nodes - Lymph nodes are usually difficult to feel, but if they are swollen they can be noticed while petting and stroking.
- A lump that is growing
- A distended stomach that does not respond to treatment
- Continuous weight loss
- Chronic vomiting and diarrhea
- Ulcers that refuse to be treated
- Chronic cough
- Alteration in gait
- Bad odor from mouth
- Difficulty in urination
Cancer can occur at any age and in any organ of the body, but older pets are more vulnerable. Actually cancer in cats and dogs is a leading cause of death in senior pets. Certain signs like lumps just under the skin or stubborn ulcers and lesions are visible to owners, but most of the other symptoms must be checked and sorted out carefully to rule out any possibility of cancer.
Many tumors are benign and do not cause major problems. In this case, surgery usually cures the cat. Malignant and metastasized tumors are dangerous and not all of them can be removed surgically. Total removal, if possible, helps to a great extent but requires chemotherapy and radiation therapy as follow up procedures. Some of the common types of cancer in cats include:
- Benign thyroid nodule - These stimulate production of thyroid hormones that speeds up the metabolism rate. Associated symptoms include increase in appetite, restlessness, weight loss and frequent and louder meowing.
- Osteosarcoma - Cancer that begins in the bones.
- Hemangiosarcoma - Cancer that begins in the blood vessels and normally spreads to the liver and spleen.
- Lymphoma - Cancer of the white blood cells; it’s usually treated with chemotherapeutic drugs.
- Squamous cell carcinoma - A malignant cancer that appears usually in the mouth.
- Mammary tumors or breast cancer – This is usually seen in un-spayed cats.
The most common surgeries performed by veterinarians are removal of tumors. Aggressive cancers that spread to other parts are difficult to treat in advanced stages and shorten the life span of the cat. Early removal of a small tumor often results in reducing the spread of the disease and allows the cat to lead a normal life.