May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Cancer is a major cause of death in older cats, and is responsible for just over a third of the deaths of kitties over age ten. While it is definitely a scary diagnosis to hear, there are now many more treatment options available—for both people and pets—than ever before. A Kerrville, TX vet discusses feline cancer in this article.
To put it into very simple terms, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of harmful cells. There are many different kinds of cancer, and they all affect different organs and body systems. No one specific cause of cancer has been identified, but there are many factors that may contribute and/or exacerbate the disease. Some research indicates that feline leukemia virus is a key suspect. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke; toxins in the food and/or environment; and/or exposure to certain toxins or chemicals. Genetics may also play a role. It’s worth pointing out that dogs develop cancer more often than kitties. However, cats tend to be secretive about illness, and may not let on that anything is even wrong until they’re quite ill.
While different types of cancers manifest differently, there are some general red flags to watch out for. These include lethargy, weight loss, reduced appetite, weakness, bloated tummy, and trouble breathing. Fluffy may also drink more water than usual. Any kind of lump or bump is also a red flag. Keep in mind that cats tend to hide the symptoms of illness, so your pet could be quite sick before you notice anything wrong. Contact your vet immediately if you see any of these warning signs. Early detection and treatment can make all the difference in the world!
If your pet has any warning signs, she’ll need to come in for tests and examinations. These may include things like X-rays, ultrasounds, cytology, blood and urine analysis, and/or other tests and screenings. If your feline pal does get a positive diagnosis, your vet will be able to go into detail about the type of cancer and available treatments at that time. Some potential treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy. It just depends on the type of cancer and how far it has progressed.
Do you have questions about your kitty’s health or care? Contact us, your Kerrville, TX animal clinic, today!