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Cancer in cats: causes, symptoms and treatment

 

Protecting Cats From Cancer


Cancer does not just affect human beings, cats can also be prone to the ill effects of this deadly disease. I have a cat who is called lily and in this article, I will be writing about my family's experience in protecting her from cancer, which the vet has informed us, has ultimately saved and prolonged her life.


Lily is a beautiful and loving cat and is very much part of our family. She is treated like our third child and has what we hope to be a very happy and comfortable life.


I have been surrounded by animals for most of my life as my parents run an animal sanctuary in the Birmingham area of England. I have learned quite a lot about these different animals and have a particular love of cats and dogs.


Lily herself is ninety-five percent white in color, the other five percent is black. I am aware that cats that are mainly white are basically at a higher risk of catching a type of skin cancer than other cats. In the summer lily would always love to sunbathe, basking in the sun. I would ensure that I put sun cream on her, mainly around her ears, and tried to encourage her to sleep more in the shaded areas of our garden. lily is however quite stubborn and insisted on resting out of the shade.


Over the years I would check lily out at regular intervals and one day noticed that she had some little black spots in and around her ears. These spots had not been there the last time I had checked her over and therefore I decided to take her to the vets. I felt confident that everything would be fine but just wanted to make sure.


The vet examined lily and looked quite worried. He told us that lily had a form of pre-cancer and that the only way that she would survive, in his opinion, would be to have her ears amputated.


This was very sad but we realized that in a way we had no choice. This all happened four years ago and lily is still going strong today, unaware of how close she was to losing her life. The vet has stated that if I had not checked her out and brought her in to be examined that cancer would have spread and that lily would have only lived for around three to six months.


What are the causes of cancer in cats?

You probably already know that cancer is a mass made up of the uncontrolled proliferation of a specific type of cell. It is difficult to determine the exact causes of cancer in cats, but there are some known risk factors, such as obesity, secondhand smoke, and some viruses.

When a tumor is malignant, we call it cancer, meaning that it grows quickly and tends to migrate through the bloodstream (spread) in various areas of the body with the possibility of recurrence after recovery. Cats can develop polyps, which are not dangerous lumps.


Cancer risk factors for cats:

overweight.

Lack of physical activity.

Passive smoking.

Exposure to the sun for long periods of time.

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

Feline immunodeficiency virus (F.I.V.) is also known as feline AIDS.

Since the last two viruses are transmitted through the cat's contact with other cats, it is not wrong to say that letting a cat go out indirectly increases her risk of developing cancer in her lifetime.


Types of cancer in cats

Lymphoma:

Lymphoma is the most common type of cancer in cats. It affects the white blood cells: lymphocytes. In cats, this type of cancer can affect all organs (lymph nodes, kidneys, spleen, intestines, etc.).

Signs of peptic lymphoma are noticed through unusual vomiting, diarrhea, or even bowel obstruction. In this case, chemotherapy becomes necessary and the results are usually positive.

Fibrosarcoma:

This tumor is malignant and appears as a lump under the skin, usually between the shoulder blades. In cats, this type of cancer is removed by surgery, as surgery helps reduce the aggressiveness of this painless cancer.

Breast tumors:

Older cats are more likely to develop this type of tumor, which is often malignant. This type of cancer appears more often in virulent females, although it can occur in sterile females.

Giving birth control pills to cats is not recommended, as it increases the likelihood of these health problems.

Squamous cell carcinoma:

This type mainly targets white-haired cats and is especially visible on the nose and the tips of the ears. Exposure to the sun for long periods of time increases the chances of developing this type of cancer in cats, and therefore protection from the sun's rays is essential.


Cancer symptoms in cats

The earlier the treatment is received, the greater the chances of obtaining an optimal recovery. Here are some signs that should alert you to your cat's risk of developing cancer, but only a veterinarian can diagnose feline cancer:


Loss of appetite: the cat eats less every time, and is getting thinner every day;

Asthenia: the cat appears to be constantly tired despite sleeping a lot;

Vomiting and Diarrhea: The stomach and digestive system may be affected if your cat vomits frequently and has severe diarrhea;

Blood loss: If your cat is losing blood for no apparent reason, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice;

Impaired movement and dizziness: the cat lacks physical strength with a loss of balance;

The appearance of nodules or lumps under the skin: It is important to check and feel your cat regularly, as these small, inconspicuous, and painless balls may be a sign that your cat has cancer.


Cancer treatment in cats

The biopsy helps analyze the tumor's severity and allows the veterinarian to follow the progression of the disease and determine the appropriate treatment plan. Surgery helps the cat recover by removing the tumor, but only if the latter has not completely spread.

Radiation therapy or chemotherapy shrinks the remaining cancer cells if the cancer is not completely removed. Cats tolerate chemotherapy relatively well, as it contributes effectively to slowing disease progression. The side effects of chemotherapy in cats cannot be compared to those in humans.

Radiation therapy may be used during or after surgery. The cat is hospitalized in a veterinary clinic for several days. the genetics and environment (lifestyle, diet, or physical activity) reflect the major risk factors for cancer.

Do not lose hope if your cat suffers from this problem, as many animals surprise us with their wonderful healing powers, just follow the advice of your veterinarian tightly in order to give your cat the best possible chance of recovery.

My advice for anyone who has a cat as a pet, especially if they are white in color, is to check the cat every week or so, and if you spot anything out of the ordinary, to take them to the vets.


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