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Home > Cats > Is Cancer Prevention for Cats Possible? Everything You Need to Know!

Is Cancer Prevention for Cats Possible? Everything You Need to Know!

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Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

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Cancer is a scary word, and when we learn that our beloved cat has developed feline cancer,1 our thoughts may naturally think of the worst outcome. Like humans, cats are not exempt from developing some sort of disease, and when it happens, it’s devastating.

No cat owner wants their kitty to go through such sickness, which begs the question: is cancer prevention for cats possible? Sadly, not all cancers can be prevented, as genetic components can be a factor.2

To better understand this answer, let us dive deeper into feline cancer and discuss tips for possibly preventing cancer in cats.


What Causes Cancer in Cats?

Some cats are more prone to developing cancer due to genetic or environmental factors.3 Genetic factors mean a cat is already predisposed to cancer from genes.4

Environmental factors include nutrition, lack of exercise, secondhand smoke, ultraviolet radiation from extensive exposure to the sun, exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, and air pollutants. It’s vital to keep your cat away from these possible factors in an effort to keep your cat safe.

What Are the More Common Cancers in Cats?

poor old sick cat with hematoma on ear and inflammated eyes
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 Let us now break down the more common types of cancer found in cats.

  • Lymphoma: Lymphoma in cats affects the lymphatic system and is the most common form of cancer found in felines. This system is comprised of lymph nodes, spleen, ducts, thymus, bone marrow, and sometimes, the gastrointestinal tract. Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is implicated in some forms of lymphoma, but not all. However, this is an important reason to have your cat vaccinated if they are at risk of being exposed to FeLV from other cats.
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma involves malignant tumors that can develop in various areas, with the mouth being the most common. Early detection is critical in treating this type of cancer due to the fast-growing tumors.
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Soft tissue sarcomas are tumors that occur in the connective tissues. Given these tissues are found throughout the body, tumors can arise almost anywhere, but commonly include the trunk and limbs.
  • Mammary Tumors: These tumors occur in intact female Female cats spayed before their first heat cycle are significantly less likely to develop mammary tumors.

Signs of Cancer in Cats

Knowing the signs of cancer can be beneficial in determining when a trip to the vet is necessary.

Signs of cancer in cats to watch for are:
  • Skin lumps and bumps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • No appetite
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling in upper or lower jaw (squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Bleeding from mouth (squamous cell carcinoma)

Does Pet Insurance cover Cancer Treatments?

pet insurance coverage
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Cancer treatment is expensive; luckily, most pet insurance companies will cover these types of treatments as long as the cancer is not considered a pre-existing condition or you didn’t purchase an accident-only policy. A tip regarding pet insurance is the earlier you purchase a policy in your pet’s life, the more affordable a policy is.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe

 As we’ve mentioned, feline cancer may not always be preventable, as genetic and environmental factors play a significant role. That said, here are some tips for keeping your kitty as healthy as possible in an effort to keep disease and health issues at bay:

  • Feed a healthy, complete and balanced diet
  • Prevent prolonged exposure to sunlight
  • Don’t smoke around your cat
  • Provide toys/engage in play with your cat for exercise
  • Avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides
  • Keep your cat’s vaccines up to date
  • Take your cat for regular, yearly checkups


Final Thoughts

A cancer diagnosis for your cat is a scary situation. Sadly, some cancers are not preventable due to genetic components. However, environmental factors can be reduced by not smoking around your cat, avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, avoiding exposure to pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, and exercising your cat as much as possible. Keep vaccinations up to date, and ensure you take your cat for regular checkups.

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Featured Image Credit: estoymhrb, Pexels

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