A certain diagnosis for any type of cat cancer, of course, can only be made by your Veterinarian-but the better informed you are about warning signs, the safer your cat will be!
One of the hardest types of cat cancer to detect in its early stages, for example is stomach cancer-and yet there are many warning signs that an alert owner can spot long before a vet is ready to call for x-rays or other clinical tests; for example:
lethargy; hiding for prolonged periods to avoid contact; vomiting, often mixed with blood ; dehydration; anemia (which can be caused by blood loss from a cancerous source); black, tarry stools (from digested blood); loss of interest in food; weight loss; tenderness or pain around the abdominal region; or (the most obvious of all!) easily felt lumps or masses when you’re stroking your cats.
Your vet will listen to your account of the symptoms your cat has been suffering-try to describe them as clearly as possible, difficult though this may be for you—and then, based on this information, he or she will perform one or more of these procedures.
An abdominal ultrasound or radiograph may be all that is required; your vet may want to run a blood panel to search for elevated white blood count levels; if a Gastroscopy is called for, this will be done under anesthesia to view the interior of your cat’s stomach and gathering a sample of suspicious cells for a biopsy; exploratory surgery is the ultimate means of revealing, and, hopefully, removing malignancies.
Turning to other kinds of cancers which might strike your cat, the “stoking and feeling” method we discussed above is still going to be a valuable diagnostic tool for you!
Feel for abnormal swellings or enlarging lumps anywhere on your cat’s body—especially around the abdomen and on the lymph nodes.
Observation, also, remains critical: try to be aware of any changes in eating and litter box behaviors, including any decreases in appetite or difficulties in eating, chronic weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or—it may sound strange to a non-cat-lover to say it: bad breath!
- Any kinds of changes in your cat’s overall behavior and personality can point to its illness.
- Excessive drooling or trouble swallowing may signal cancer of the mouth or throat of your cat.
- Keep an eye out for bleeding or discharging from any body opening or wound, or scabs that don’t heal; any of these can be signs of an internal tumor.
- If your cat suddenly starts coughing, panting or otherwise having breathing trouble this could indicate heart or respiratory problems that are either cancerous or non-cancerous in origin.
Lameness, stiffness or a significant slowdown in activity can be signs of age—or they can be signs of cat cancer—and remember that as your cat ages, age itself makes it more prone to cancer, so you need to increase your vigilance.