(Related: Sun-burning cats and lumpy skin)
Yes, cats do get cancer too, and like humans, a compromised immunity system makes them more suseptible too.
Like humans, cats may get cancers of many different kinds too.
THE REASON FOR such a high prevalence of lymphoma in the cat is not well understood, but in part is likely to be due to the association with feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) infection. T here is no doubt that infection with this virus is one important cause of feline lymphoma, however, even with better control of FeLV infection (through routine testing and vaccination) lymphoma still remains the most common cancer of cats. Therefore, although FeLV is one important cause, it is not the only factor in the development of lymphoma in cats.Generally, compared to an uninfected cat, a cat with persistent FeLV infection has approximately 60 times higher risk of developing lymphoma , and the risk in a cat infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is some 6 times higher. While FIV may occasionally be a direct be the cause of some lymphomas, it probably more commonly permits tumour development as a manifestation of immunosuppression and compromised early clearing of neoplastically-transformed cells. Generally lymphoma induced by infection with FeLV tends to occur in younger cats, whereas lymphoma unrelated to FeLV is more common in older cats. … read on
Milly tested FiV positive at a little less than 3 years old, died from multi-cystic intestinal lymphoma mere months later at age 3.5. Her cancer was aggressive, and between the diagnosis and her death it was just a matter of days.
It’s important to note:
Intestinal lymphoma is now the most common form of lymphoma in the cat. The average patient is an elderly cat with a history of vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, appetite loss or any combination thereof. Patients are generally older cats (median ages ranging from 9-13 years depending on the study) with a tendency for male cats to be more predisposed to development of the condition than female cats. source
Researchers previously believed that all cats with lymphoma were infected with the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). However, most cats in the past decade diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma tested negative for FeLV. Exposure to second-hand smoke, not a virus, is now viewed as a contributing causative factor to intestinal lymphoma. source
Milly did not display any of the signs except for weight loss and appetite loss, and as a young cat certainly had no history to speak of. But it was very sudden – taking place over about 3 weeks. And because it happened at a time when Bam Bam was starting his Acute Renal Failure treatment + special diet, we had initially thought that she was merely more interested in getting into his food than the usual fare everyone else was having.
Whatever the cancer though, it is important to remember cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence, unless we’re talking about the hapless ones like Milly. But even then, don’t give up hope, not unless it’s truly the end. Get with the program, and play your part well – your cat’s well-being depends on it.
(Created: 24 may 06. Updated 6 Jan 07)