Cat Health

10 Signs Of Cancer In Cats

Cancer is an ever-growing problem for our pets, so it’s no surprise that we’re always on the lookout for anything abnormal. Annual veterinary exams can help ensure your cat stays happy and healthy, but cats are very stoic animals that rarely show any symptoms of disease before it’s too late. To be proactive in our cat’s health, it’s important to take note of any of these symptoms and be sure to check with your veterinarian to rule out any problems.

1 – Weight Loss

Changes in chewing, eating and drinking habits

While some cats could stand to lose a few pounds, noticing unwarranted and sudden weight loss is typically a sign that something is wrong. Because cancer cells take a lot of energy and nutrition away from our cats, it’s very common for them to start losing weight rapidly and without obvious explanation.

2 – Lethargy

How do I know if the cat is in pain

Cats sleep a lot, but when they’re awake they do remain fairly active and enjoy their playtime. If you notice your cat sleeping more than normal or showing no interest in play and activity, there’s a good chance he’s not feeling very well.

3 – Lumps

Lumps are probably the most obvious sign of cancer in cats because they’re often easily seen and felt. Lumps are not always dangerous, but it’s important to take your cat to the veterinarian if you find any. They can appear anywhere on the body and can grow very slowly or very quickly.

4 – Bad Breath

gums of cats - health cat

Your cat’s breath probably doesn’t smell particularly good, to begin with, but very foul and abnormal smelling breath can be a sign of cancer and other ailments. Hopefully, your cat will just need a dental cleaning, but if you notice bad breath it’s important to take your cat to the veterinarian.

5 – Sudden Lameness

cats treats

Tumors can often be painful, especially if they are in bone tissue. Sudden lameness in cats is certainly a sign that something isn’t right and it’s best to rule out the cause as soon as possible. Not only are our cats obvious in pain and discomfort, but bone cancers can also spread quickly and it’s best to get them under control. Sometimes even an amputation is the best answer. But don’t worry, cats can get around very well on only three legs.

6 – Sores & Wounds That Don’t Heal

Indications that your cat is dying

If your cat is fighting something like cancer, it’s going to take all of the time her immune system has to offer. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for cats to develop sores or have small wounds that never seem to heal. Even tiny scratches can become inflamed and infected when they would normally be gone in a few days. If you notice this happening to your cat, take her to the vet right away.

7 – Difficulty Breathing

A cat’s life cycle

Tumors often grow inside or push against the lungs and throat of our cats, making breathing very difficult. If you notice any wheezing or panting, be sure to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, tumors in the chest cavity or throat can suffocate cats very quickly.

8 – Loss of Appetite

cat food

If you notice your cat isn’t eating as much or has stopped eating altogether, it’s imperative to seek veterinary attention immediately. Regardless of the cause of his inappetence, cats can suffer from a dangerous side effect, called fatty liver, from not eating for just a day or two. Fatty liver, or hepatic lipidosis, is very common in cats that stop eating suddenly and can be just as fatal as cancer that may be causing your cat to avoid food.

9 – Abnormal Swelling

Swelling cats - health care cats

Some tumors can’t be seen or felt just under the skin, but you might notice that your cat’s chest or abdomen has become enlarged or distended. This could mean that something dangerous is growing inside and is a sure sign that your cat needs veterinary care.

10 – Vomiting & Diarrhea

Repeat vomiting severe diarrhea - cat health

Vomiting and diarrhea are relatively common in cats and can be caused by just about anything, but persistent symptoms are a sign that something is definitely wrong. If you notice excess vomiting and/or diarrhea that lasts for a long period of time or gets progressively worse, cancer could certainly be the culprit and your cat should see a veterinarian sooner rather than later.


    • There are a few possibilities that I can think of, as follows:

      1. Poor nutrition. Check the labels on your cat food. If you are feeding poor quality food, that can translate to poor overall health in your pet.

      2. Age. Just as in humans and other mammals of advanced years, teeth may just wear out.

      3. Gum disease/tooth decay. These can happen even in younger animals, and again may be related to poor nutrition.

      4. Poor systemic health. Sometimes poor health may affect a variety of areas within the body such as the musculoskeletal system, the heart, eyes, lungs, etc., and they may not seem remotely connected.

      Years ago I had a West Highland White Terrier who was the love of my life. I fed him top quality dry dog food and made him wet food to supplement the dry food. I took him in annually for his shots and a physical, and I always asked for a simple CBC since he had blood drawn each year to ensure his heart worm medication hadn’t slipped up somewhere.

      When Bobby was about ten, my vet called after his routine blood work was done and told me he was in kidney failure. Well, I took it like a champ and got hysterical. The vet asked if Bobby had ever had his teeth cleaned. Well, he hadn’t, but his teeth always appeared fine during his annual vet check. He didn’t have bad breath, or anything else that would lead one to believe that he might have dental problems, However, the vet said that sometimes periodontal disease put a strain on a dog’s organs, so she suggested that we, a) have her clean Bobby’s teeth while under anesthesia, b) put him on a kidney disease diet (believe it or not, there is at least one made commercially), and c) recheck his blood work in a month.

      Bobby went in for his cleaning, and guess what? He had a badly diseased tooth way in the back of his mouth. He had been asymptomatic, but there it was. The vet pulled the tooth, Bobby ate the miserable kidney diet, and at one month, we rechecked his blood. No sign of kidney failure. The tooth had been septic, and was causing his kidneys to fail. He lived to be 15, and he never had a problem with either his teeth or kidneys again.

      All this is to say that there could be many reasons for tooth loss, some apparent, and some not so apparent. I would take your cat in for a well-check, and tell the vet about the tooth loss. The issue may be easily cured. Irregardless, you owe it to your cat to figure out what’s going on.

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