What is the Best Diet for a Cat with Cancer? 2024

Authored byVeronic Fournier - May 20, 2024

So, your kitty has been diagnosed with cancer in cats by a veterinary oncologist...

And you are unsure of what to feed your pet to ensure that he gets all the strength needed to fight this disease.

You are not alone! One in four cats will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. And this figure unfortunately seems to be on the rise.

If we're being honest, the information available online to properly feeding cats during cancer—including tumors—can be either overwhelming or seemingly shady. This includes squamous cell carcinoma, bone cancer, and mammary tumors, among others.

This is why we have decided to shed some light on all of this to the best of our knowledge and experience as both natural health experts and pet parents.


Feline cancer is a very serious health issue for cats

We need to accompany you in this ordeal because cancer is a stressful and difficult time. We are wholeheartedly with you and your kitty.

For more information on feline cancer, you can refer to our complete guide on this subject.

Is it possible to treat cat cancer by modifying your pet's feeding options? Is there really an anti-cancer diet regimen for cats?

Make sure you read to get in on our overview of the different types of diets that are available to feed a cat with cancer, to help maintain good health and give it every chance of recovering.


Are All Cats Vulnerable to Feline Cancer?

A tabby cat.

While this may sound scary, all cats can be prone to develop cancer during their lifetime. It is actually one of the most prevalent health concerns in felines.

Common cancer types that can affect your feline companion include squamous cell carcinomas, as well as those affecting the bones and bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract, and lymph nodes, among others.

Moreover, the proliferation of tumor cells in cats, such as in the case of mammary tumors and oral tumors, can also lead to pet cancer in most cats if they are not caught early.

This is the reason why regular checkups and consultations with pet wellness experts and vets should be on your checklist for early detection of this serious health issue, especially if increased risk factors are present.


Which Cats Are Highly at Risk of Feline Cancer?

Cat looking at the camera.

While all felines can be vulnerable to this disease, there are a few risk factors involved when it comes to cancer in cats.

It usually targets those who are advanced in age (older cats in their senior years), have underlying health conditions such as feline leukemia virus (FLV), and cats spayed too late (in case you have a female cat).

Cats belonging to a particular breed like Siamese cats are also highly susceptible.

Moreover, those constantly exposed to harmful environmental factors such as secondhand smoke and other chemicals can be at risk of developing cancer, too.

Indoor cats or those spending most of their time indoors are also not completely safe from cancer in cats like squamous cell carcinoma and lymphoma (cancer affecting the lymph nodes)!

Additionally, dogs can also be highly at risk of cancer. Dogs having the same risk factors as those of cats are usually the targets.


Can Cancer in Cats be Cured?

Cat sleeping.

No matter how dire the situation may look, there is still hope for a cat diagnosed with cancer and his quality of life must be maintained in the process.

Just to emphasize, there are several conventional cancer treatment options when it comes to cancer in cats, which are patterned after human medicine.

These cancer treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and the right palliative care.

And like most conventional veterinary practices, these can involve invasive procedures in the process.

But here's the thing, though. Successful treatment of cancer in cats involves two key elements: early detection and maintaining a cat's quality of life, particularly the things he eats and drinks.

Diagnosing cancer in cats can be a bit tricky for some felines, too, since they don't usually display pain and discomfort. This can be done by a veterinary oncologist through an abdominal ultrasound, chest X-rays, and fine needle aspiration, among others.

In some cases, removal of the cancer may be performed by a veterinary surgeon. Proper pain management is also an essential part of aftercare concerning cancer in cats.


What is the Best Diet for a Cat with Feline Cancer?

Ginger tabby cat.

Surprise! There is no one perfect diet that is right for all cats with cancer.

The choice of cat cancer feeding plan cat should be made according to its clinical signs, the findings of its veterinary examination, and the results of various diagnostic tests.

Many cats are very finicky, especially when they are not feeling very well, therefore you should also listen to them and offer them food that they will be happy to eat.


Having the right feeding strategy can help curb the spread of cancer cells

The animal's physical condition (whether it is fat or lean), as well as its muscle mass, should also be taken into account before choosing its feeding regimen.

Some cats with cancer are obese when diagnosed, while others have lost weight and muscle. It is therefore necessary to adapt their meals to their body condition.

Maintaining good muscle mass is essential for good health. Note that an obese animal can also suffer from loss of muscle mass like in the case of cancer cachexia.

The idea, then, is to find a feeding regimen suited to your kitty cat’s unique condition.


Does the Feline Leukemia Virus (FLV) Cause Cancer?

Paws of a cat.

While FLV is not considered a direct factor in causing cancer to our feline friends in the field of veterinary oncology, it may increase the risk of this disease to cats because it can compromise their overall immune response.

Apart from making cats more prone to chronic inflammation, they can also lessen immune resilience, which can lead to the onset of conditions like mammary tumors, irregularities in the bone marrow as well as a decreased appetite.

And if cats have a poor appetite, they won't be able to load up on beneficial nutrients that help support their ideal quality of life. Again, early detection is crucial!


What are the Different Types of Diets Available for Feline Cancer Patients?

Cat sitting.

Raw food, keto, grain-free, high in protein, low in carbohydrates, as well as liquid feeding regimen...

It can get confusing working out what foods to give a cat with cancer! Let's try to demystify it together to find the best feeding plan for your sick cat. 

Raw diet

A raw feeding plan is controversial in the veterinary world in general, as it has received very little attention from scientists. You can think of the whole thing as a raw homemade diet.

What worries many vets about this type of diet is, among other things, the possible transmission of certain parasites and bacteria because of its use of raw meat and similar elements.

As animals with cancer have weakened immune systems, raw food is all the riskier for them, as infection can be fatal. 


In short, the ketogenic or keto is a diet high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates. In short, it is high-fat and low-carb, which helps support a lean body mass and replenish fat stores for energy.

Combining these three macronutrients at very specific levels permits a human to enter into a state of ketosis (increased ketone bodies in the blood). So, the body is called upon to use fats and ketones for energy, generally with the intention of weight loss.

You would be right in suspecting that there is very little, if any, scientific study on this subject in animals, let alone in the context of disease.

Generally speaking, cats need a high level of protein (more than dogs) as they are strict carnivores.

I therefore recommend that you follow the nutritional recommendations of your vet to feed your kitty in the way that is most optimal for it. 

Cat with his tongue out.

High protein and grain-free diet

A feeding regimen high in protein will help your feline friend to feel good and maintain good muscle mass.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends a minimum of 26% protein in dry food for a healthy adult kitty, while vets even recommend foods with protein levels ranging from 35% to 45%. To give you an idea, a mouse contains around 55% protein.

A sick feline could benefit from a little more protein, to help maintain muscle. Be careful though, a diet too rich in protein (and therefore in phosphorus) can lead to kidney problems.

As for grain-free food, that's a myth!

Grains are good for your kitty. The vast majority of cats tolerate grains very well, and very few of them develop allergies to these ingredients.

The carbohydrates found in grains are even important in a cat's feeding plan (and they can make the visit to the litter box much easier during sickness, too).

By using these ingredients as a source of energy, the proteins ingested are then available for the maintenance and development of muscle mass


Liquid feeding plan for cats with cancer

I see the benefit of a liquid feeding routine in cases where the animal has difficulty eating because of a tumor in the mouth, for example. Excessive weight loss can also be averted.

Adding water to food to make it like soup is also a great way to keep your pet hydrated and prevent urinary problems. Sick cats that have difficulty eating and drinking tend to become more dehydrated.


Does Canned Cat Food Cause Cancer in Cats?

Bunch of food on the table.

If you ask a veterinary nutritionist, canned preparations are not known to cause cancer in cats.

However, not giving good quality canned options can predispose certain problems like urinary problems and irritation of the small intestines, among others.

Cats that are fed regularly canned preparations are also missing out on nutritionally balanced options.


How to Help a Cat with Cancer that is Losing Its Appetite?

Cat sneezing.

Has your cat with cancer stopped feeding? A feline with cancer may change their food preferences, they may be less hungry or even lose their appetite altogether.

Here's what you can do to encourage your feline to eat:

  • Heat the food up: Sometimes this little nudge is enough to restore their taste for food.

  • Add water to the kibble: Sometimes this change in texture can stimulate the appetite of some cats, in addition to ensuring that they stay properly hydrated.

  • Appetite stimulants for cats with cancer: Your vet may, in some cases, prescribe appetite stimulants, either by injection or in tablet form.

  • Change to a new food: Cats with cancer sometimes have a disdain for a certain flavor or ingredient. So simply try new kibble, taking care to transition slowly over to new food!

  • Hand feeding: Sometimes a little love and care is all they need!

  • Canned food: It is often very popular with cats, in addition to ensuring a good supply of water!


What to Feed a Cat with Cancer that is Not Eating?

Cat laying on the floor.

For a cat who refuses to eat, we all tend to offer a variety of delicious table food to encourage them. However, you must be careful doing this as it can cause diarrhea and worsen your condition by causing dehydration.

If your pet seems to be nauseous (kitty not feeding, salivating more), you can try to feed it table food, but without giving all the leftovers from your supper!

I recommend starting with something tasteless and easily digestible, such as a plate of boiled chicken and white rice. Food that does not taste or smell will be more easily accepted by a nauseous cat.


How Long Can a Cat Go Without Eating?

A cat who has lost their appetite mustn’t go too long without eating. A sick feline that won’t eat for just a few days can develop serious health problems, including liver problems.


A Homemade Recipe for Cats with Cancer

Cat got spooked.

If your cat isn't nauseous, but just picky, here is a recipe that can be cooked at home. Be careful though, this is not suitable for a long-term feeding strategy.


  • 1 cup canned mackerel (excellent source of omega 3!)

  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower seed oil

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of chicken broth


What supplements Should I Give a Cat with Cancer?

A white cat.

Supplements such as omega-3 and probiotics can be given to a cat with cancer to help them in their fight, here's why: 

Fish oil supplements (Omega-3)

They are recognized for a ton of benefits. I am thinking, among other things, of their anti-inflammatory properties and their beneficial effects on heart and brain health. Omega-3s can even help reduce muscle loss in animals with cancer. 


In addition to promoting good gastrointestinal health and preventing diarrhea, probiotics also help strengthen the immune system. They are therefore important allies in this battle to maintain your cat's quality of life.


A Natural Support for Cats with Cancer


A cat sleeping on the floor.
PIPTOPET is the best natural product to support your cat's health during its fight against cancer. This product made from a medicinal mushroom, has properties to promote health even when your cat has tumors in addition to being a powerful stimulant of the immune system.


It supports your cat in his attacks against cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. It is also good when used in conjunction with conventional therapies such as chemotherapy.

In conclusion, to make sure that your cat is getting enough calories throughout the day, it’s important to control their nausea, especially if they are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments.

You can contact us directly if your cat is fighting cancer or if you are concerned about its health. We are here to advise you. You can also contact us right now!


About the author

Veronic Fournier
Veronic Fournier


Véronique Fournier shares her extensive pet health know-how on Zumalka through her articles.

Véronique’s background as an animal wellness advocate began in Cégep La Pocatière in Quebec, which led to comprehensive internships and training with respect to the breeding, rehabilitation, and monitoring of various types of animals. The institutions she has worked with include the Quebec Aquarium and the SOS Miss Dolittle shelter, just to name a few.

Her immersion with various veterinary clinics in British Columbia and other places has made Veronique not just knowledgeable, but also quite perceptive in zeroing in on the right strategy to help keep pets in the best of health.

And can we get you in on a secret? Veronique shares that she has already made a lot of canine pals due to her stint as a foster mom in several shelters. Isn’t that cool?

1 comment

  • JR Wyandt December 12, 2023 at 5:04 pm

    Piptopet- have a problem giving cat with mouth cancer. Does not like sprayed in mouth and he does not drink all his water to get it all. So what is 3 sprays in ml’s so I could give in a small syringe. Also the turkey tail is in capsule form which is to much to put in a treat and is to much for a syringe. How can I give both of these. The small pills are great like in the #7 and #10 because they are very small and fit very easily in a treat. Any help on this would be great.

    Thank you

    JR Wyandt

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