Feline Lymphoma/Cancer/Tumours

(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)


17 responses to “Feline Lymphoma/Cancer/Tumours

  1. sorry to hear of your loss. my cat (20hrs old) was just diagnosed yest. the vet is unable to say how long she has and b/c of her age no treatment can be done. her quality of life is good – for now. i feel your pain.

  2. Ann,
    Thank you.

    Am sorry to hear about your baby’s diagnosis. But look on the bright side, at her age, you must have uncountable memories together. The best thing is that her quality of life is good. That is the important thing to keep sight of.

    All the best to both of you. We will think of your beloved one.

  3. sorry to hear these postings. i lost my dog christmas 2006 and March of 2007 my cat Chanty was diagnosed with cancer. She had a tumor on the side of her face. My vet removed it but said it fell apart and the biopsy said it was highly mastasicizing. It would only be a few weeks. I am glad to tell you it is feb 2008 and she is still okay. The tumor came back now, but it is huge and it is more deeper; they are unable to remove it. She eats constantly, though I worry everyday. My concern is that some nights she keeps me up meowing…i make sure she has food, water, litter is clean, cuddle her…is this pain? I fed her this morning 3x from 3am to 8am because she kept crying…she at though …anyone’s insight is most appreciated!

  4. webchrissy,
    Sorry to hear about Chanty. I really don’t know what to tell you tell, but in my opinion, it is still in Chanty’s best interest that you work closely with your vet, and stay in close communication, if you’re ont already doing so. This is because each patient and his/her experience is unqiue and specific. The vet, with Chanty’s case history on hand, should be in a better position to tell you more about Chanty’s current condition and needs.

    I know what you guys all mean. I just got back from the vet where my cat stayed overnight because he had been having respiratory problems and eating problems, and found out that they are getting the blood tests tomorrow to find out if he has lymphoma cancer. There is a 90-80% chance that he does which means my mum wants us to put him down, and there is also a chance it might be generic lung disease. I’ve had my baby since I was 1, and he’s 12 now. I dont know how I could live without him, and there’s such a small chance of him living that I”ve given up hope. I’m so sad, he’s the only one thats stuck with me since the beginning, and I was under the impression that cats lived until the age of 16 at least, because all of my friends cats have died around that age. I am so crushed and I don’t know what to do, because I know it would be nicest for him if we had him put down, but I can’t stand the thought of saying yes. When I saw him at the vet he was on a drip, and really sick. He keeps on getting these things like hairballs, and is constantly drooling. It’s the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had to go through, and I feel for all of those people out there who have had to lose their childhood pets too.

  6. Im really sorry about all of your pets.I have a cat. Shes 12 years old and her name is Winnie. Shes a balanese cat. We took her to the vet becuase she wasnt eating and lost a tremendous amount of weight and it turns out that she has Lymphoma. The vet gave her some medicine that is supposed to de-inflate the lining in her stomache so she can eat but as the cancer progresses, eventually she wont be able to eat anymore and we will have to put her to sleep because we cant just let her die of starvation and i dont know if it will be much longer but i still have hope and am hoping for a miracle and i pray every night but i am in need of some hope so if anyone has any stories of cats who overcame their Lymphoma please let me know. Also, keep her in your prayers tonight. Thanks.

  7. My cat, Sophie (though we call her Kitty), was diagnosed with terminal cancer yesterday. It started in her lower left mammary gland, and has managed to spread to her lungs because we did not catch it early enough. Her lump was originally thought of as just a fat cyst, but it turned out to be a malignant tumor. She is still fine and healthy (though I worry, because the lump itself began around September of last year), but I just worry about the oncoming months. I don’t blame anyone for not bringing her earlier or noticing the malignancy of the lump soon enough, but I’m just sad to see her go. I will definitely be putting her to sleep when she begins to really suffer. To anyone who reads this, don’t ever dismiss something strange in your cat as nothing. Spay/neuter your cat, and have regular checkups. Just because they’re animals, doesn’t meant they don’t need to be looked over just as meticulously. I learned that the hard way, and I’m just hoping no one else has to.

  8. CantSay,
    So sorry to hear about your experience… sometimes though, the best thing to do is to let them go.

    Winnie is in our thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Our best to Sophie.

    Spay/Neuter is really an important message to all pet guardians. I hope your story will serve as a sobering reminder to people who are still oblivious.

  9. I am so sorry about your cat. I never heard of lymphoma in cats before my recent experience. My 12-year old cat stopped eating and was larthargic. I took him to the vet on 7/30/07 and found out that he had advanced intestinal lymphoma. He died five days later. A tumor had eaten a big hole in his intestines. I was SHOCKED to say the least. He had no prior health problems; he was an indoor cat that had the best diet, and the best of care. I also had no substantial warning that anything was wrong with him, but looking back I now see that he exhibited subtle changes over the last two years.

    Anyway, it is a terrible disease and from looking over the internet the holistic remedies seem to have better success than conventional treatments.

    I share your pain.


    • Kalli, I just saw this website because I am frantically looking for anything I think might help my best friend, campanion and “fur child”. I was just told on March 31, 2009 he has lymphona involving the intestines and the vet don’t think surgery will help. Like you he did not display any symptoms except not eating as much, thought his age may be a factor. He was 12 yrs old in Nov. 08 and I have had him since before he was born, had his Mother also. Then he started losing weight, but still playing, then more weight, not eating and stopped playing. The vet has not given me any estimate of time and has put him on predisone. I am completely heart broken and feel so useless to my wonderful cat and he has always been wonderful. He is indoor only, been fed the best vet recommended food. He is now not eating hardly anything and I am trying everything to include meat baby food. Any advice? I replied to your story it sounds so close to mine. I am very sorry you lost your special pet and I hope this does not bring back any painful memories but felt I had to reply. Thank you

  10. Thank you for your support. Sadly, Winnie passed away this 4th of July. She was sitting on my lap in my house when she suddenly passed away. I have the same exact story as Kalli. Winnie was perfectly healthy and all of a sudden she wasnt eating, got diagnosed, and died a little bit after. It all happened so fast. To everyone else, the best thing you can do for your cats is just hold them and love them to the point of where theyre sick of you because i believed that if i didnt pay as much attention to my cat as i did, she would have died sooner. I believe it keeps them fighting hard because they love you so much and don’t want to leave you. Also, if your pet passed away, know that he/she is looking down at you and protecting you like a little guardian angel and you will see them again.

    • Hi everyone,
      My little Kasur (would have been 5 years old in 11 days) passed away a few hours ago. He had been vomiting for nearly 12 months on and off and the vets were sure it was due to irritable bowel syndrome so I kept changing his food every months. I found out the hard way that it wasn’t the case. In a few minutes my world was shattered, Kasur had been in hospital since friday and wasn’t getting any better, he had an x-ray and a huge mass was found. They asked me if I wanted to go ahead with the operation to investigate it or if I wanted to put him to sleep. I said yes to the operation and was told 20 minutes after the start that it was lymphoma and that he had spread to several organs and nothing could be done. My heart is bleeding, I love him so much, he’s my world. And I know, Julia, you are right, give them as much love as you can and yes they do look after us after and I so wish do come back. In the mean time in memory of Kasur and all the little fellows at risk of lymphoma I want to stress that the vet told me on friday that they had noted 2 years ago (!!!!) that they had found a lump while he had been taken in with bronchitis. 6 months ago they also had made note of the lump during another emergency. They have never mentioned any lump to me ever. I don’t know if it would have changed anything for Kasur but after months and months of regular visits to the vet I would have liked to have been informed of the lump. My heart goes to all of you, there are no words to describe the loss and thank you for this forum.

  11. Our kitty, Chantilly was just diagnosed with an aggressive mouth lymphoma under her tongue. The vet found it when he was cleaning her teeth. She is 8 yrs. old, and we’ve had her since she was a kitten. She is exposed to no second hand smoke whatsoever. I wonder, though about the quality of our water. Our old house has lead pipes, and we are upriver of the Hanford nuclear reactor, and the Umatilla Army Weapons Depot – both here in Eastern Oregon. Does anyone out there know about toxins in water as a cause for this type of cancer in cats? She is on Evo cat chow, so I don’t think her diet is suspect.

  12. In 2006 i lost my best friend, a black and white 11yr old feline named Magic to Lymphoma as well. It was the first time i had ever lost a fur kid let alone had to make the decision to end his suffering. It truly was the most difficult decision i have made so far in my life.
    A week ago my ” little shadow” Carom an 8-12yr old, 5 pound tortoise shell seemed to have a swollen eye so i took her to the vet. We learned that she had a tumor growing in her upper left jaw which seems to be pushing against her eye. Upon biopsy it was diagnosed as Squamous cell sarcoma which is very nasty and “invasive”. The worst part is she is still so vibrant and healthy that other then her eye you can’t tell shes sick. It’s breaking my heart but i am trying to stay “realistic” and make sure she is as comfortable and happy as possible. I can’t imagine life without her but i hope i can do the right thing for her, whatever that may be, when the times calls for it.
    To all of you out there fighting the battle along side your loved ones be brave and be compassionate. Know you are not alone and have faith that there is a good reason if our friends are called to leave this life a little sooner then we’re ready for. Maybe someone….. or something really needs there love and devotion more then us now and they need to move on… Whatever the reason all i know is that it never gets easier to lose a friend, furry or not.

  13. Hi Everybody,
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, and especially to Shannon, thanks for the words of encouragement to fellow cancer-kitty mums.

  14. Hi,
    Six weeks ago i bought a 4 and a half month old kitten from the RSPCA.we called her Sooty.I’d waited 20 years for her as i’d always lots my Beautful fury babes either run over or poisoned so i’d said i’d never get anymore because of the devastation of loosing them caused me …however I chose Sooty because i was drawn to her lovely personality 4 weeks after getting her she starting limping so we took her to the vet and they thought she had hurt her leg in some way…but about 12 days later she could hardly walk and we took her back and another vet thought it was calcium deficiency so sooty was given calcium etc.But we recieved devastating news yesterday shes got lymphoma.i’m absolutely Gutted!!!

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