What's really alarming about skin cancer in cats is that it can just get in the picture without a warning. And if we're being honest, your feline companion could still be at risk of unexpectedly developing skin cancer no matter how healthy may be.
Although unusual lumps on a cat's body are considered the most common symptoms of skin cancer, there are actually other indicators of this disease that you should know. There are even irregularities on your pet's skin that may seem to look benign at first, but can potentially turn cancerous!
Skin cancer in cats is not just about unusual lumps
Recognizing the difference between moles, cysts, and bumps is really important. Being familiar with these is crucial since catching skin cancer in felines early on significantly helps your pet make a full recovery.
This is the reason why we've put together this blog post on cancers that can affect your cat's skin. Besides walking you through each type of skin cancer your kitty could be vulnerable to, we're also going to get you in on the symptoms and possible treatment options for feline skin cancers that you can go for.
We hope you find all the information you need in this article so you’re better equipped when dealing with this terrible disease. Make sure you read on to find out everything you need to know about cancer in cats in our complete guide and how to support your cat during the same using natural methods.
A Quick Overview of Feline Skin Cancer
Skin cancer in cats is one of the most common cancers that affect cats, and there are many different types. We are going to look at a few of the common types of feline skin cancer: Basal cell carcinomas, mast cell tumors, fibrosarcomas, and melanomas.
Skin cancer in cats can have many causes, but there are certain risk factors related to different types. For example, basal cell carcinomas often affect older cats, and one form of fibrosarcoma affects cats younger than 4 years old.
We will discuss these risk factors that may play a key role in developing skin cancer in a separate section to help you understand them better. Just to emphasize, there are certain factors relating to cat skin cancer that you may be overlooking right now.
Certain types of skin cancer in felines called fibrosarcomas have also been linked to vaccinations, with the tumors often appearing near the spot where the injection was done on a cat's skin. They can affect even healthy cats and usually manifest as hardened borders on a cat's skin.
Tumors are not cancer (and vice versa)
Before we move on with our discussion, we'd just like to point out that tumors and cancer in cats are not one and the same. Some pet parents tend to use these terms interchangeably, which can lead to confusion at times.
A brief look at cat tumors
A cat tumor is basically an abnormal tissue mass or growth on the parts of the body. While these growths or masses can typically develop under the tissues under a cat's skin, it can also emerge from certain areas of the body like mammary glands, gastrointestinal tract, particularly the intestines and stomach, as well as the nose and mouth.
Examples of these include tumors affecting the mast cells, basal cell tumors, as well as those causing distress in other areas of a cat's physique.
Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly believe, not all tumors or abnormal growths in cats become cancerous ones sooner or later. Tumors that remain as such are called "benign" tumors, while those that develop into cancer—including skin cancers, and the ones affecting the lymph nodes—are referred to as "malignant" tumors.
How about cancer in cats?
As for cat cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and skin cancer in felines, it is set off by the growth and development of abnormal cells. Depending on the type of cancer, there is a risk that it will spread to other areas of the body of a cat.
We'd just like to emphasize that being familiar with the symptoms of skin cancer or any other type of cancer is crucial for any cat parent. Knowing so helps you start treatment as early as possible and boost your pet's chances of making a full recovery.
While we advocate for the use of natural methods in keeping our animal friends happy and healthy, we also recognize the importance of establishing a relationship with your veterinarian in maintaining the robustness of our pets, especially in terms of keeping serious diseases like skin cancer in check.
Possible Causes of Skin Cancer in Cats
Despite the modern strides in veterinary medicine over the years, the exact cause of skin cancer (or any cancer that can afflict your cat for that matter) is still unknown. This also rings true for tumors in felines—like basal cell and mast cell tumors—that usually manifest as lumps and bumps on a cat.
However, there are certain "risk factors" that are linked with respect to the development of skin cancer in cats, as well as other types of cancer like squamous cell carcinoma and those causing distress to the lymph nodes. These factors will be explained quickly below:
Older cats have a higher risk of getting skin cancer because of the decline in their overall immune response. They are not as resilient in dealing with disease and illness as they used to be. This is the biggest reason why boosting your cat's immune system health as early as now is a must.
Studies show that although it is not deemed as a direct link, constant sun exposure may be considered as a possible leading cause for cancer of the skin in cats. Increased ultraviolet light exposure from the sun (which in itself can be deemed as a type of "radiation") can also trigger the onset of other skin wellness issues among felines such as sunburns, solar dermatitis, as well as actinic keratosis.
Moreover, frequent exposure to harsh chemicals like drain cleaners, cigarette smoke, emissions from vapes, as well as antifreeze are also believed to set off cat skin cancer. Constant physical trauma (particularly among tomcats that roam around looking for a potential mate) is thought to trigger skin cancer, too.
While this may sound surprising, there are particular breeds of cats that typically get diagnosed with a type of skin cancer. These feline pedigrees include Bengals, Persians, and Siamese cats. This vulnerability to cancer is often speculated to have to do with their coloration and white spaces on their chest and forehead. (Find out more about the cat breeds prone to cancer.)
Underlying health issues
Certain health problems in cats may make them more susceptible to feline cancer of the skin. This can be anything from the feline leukemia virus (FLV) to diabetes, as well as kidney disease to the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
Similarly, whatever the type of skin cancer your cat is afflicted with, the lack of proper treatments and medical attention may also encourage the spread of the same to other parts of the body sooner or later.
How is Skin Cancer in Cats Diagnosed?
Your vet can diagnose skin cancer in felines using various methods. Besides having a visual examination and conducting X-rays on the affected areas of the body, the use of digital imaging through ultrasound and radiography can also be implemented by your veterinarian.
Other methods like fine needle aspiration and the surgical removal of a skin sample can also be used for the same. However, it is very important that you know the signs of skin cancer to immediately have the recommended tests done to determine what the problem is as soon as possible.
Most Common Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Cats
How can you recognize the difference between a regular lump or bump on your cat and cancer? A trip to the vet is often necessary to determine exactly if a bump is nothing to be worried about, like a cyst or a mole, or something more serious, like cancer.
It can be worrying to notice something unusual on your furry friend, but it’s good to remember that most lumps and bumps are nothing to be worried about. Some bumps may only be a result of insect bites, or signs of irritation or inflammation.
For this part of our discussion, we’re going to look at how to recognize some types of skin cancer in cats (as well as some tumors while we're at it) so you will have the chance to seek treatment early:
What basal cell carcinomas look like in cats
Basal cell carcinomas are generally firm lumps found under the skin, and will often have a slightly "transparent" appearance. They are often found on the head, neck, or shoulders. You might notice some changes in the color of the skin with this type of cancer.
What mast cell tumors look like in cats
Mast cell tumors in cats are often hairless, firm lumps under the skin. Akin to basal cell carcinomas, mast cell tumors often affect the head and neck. They can also affect some parts of the gastrointestinal tract like the intestine and spleen in some cases.
What fibrosarcomas look like in cats
Fibrosarcomascommonly manifests as firm lumps found under the skin. However, they can also sometimes occur deep below the skin, making it difficult to feel. Although these can typically show on your cat's chest, limbs, neck, and head, they may also appear between your pet's toes.
What melanomas look like in cats
Melanomasin cats often appear on the skin as dark or colored spots or patches. They can also manifest as flat or raised masses. These can look like ulcers, or an open sore that doesn’t heal easily. Melanomas can also be found in and around a cat's oral region such as the tongue, gums, and lips.
Iris melanomas in cats
Melanomas, which affect the cells producing melanin, are also found in the eye. Diffuse iris melanomas in cats can look like freckles on the iris that gradually get darker over time. It is important to take note that these are quite rare in cats, but they can still affect your feline best friend.
Squamous cell carcinoma in cats
Squamous cell carcinomas often appear in areas where there is the least hair (or there is a significant hair loss) such as the ears, nasal planum, and eyelids. They can also affect the oral region, particularly the mouth, tongue, and tonsils. This type of skin cancer is usually diagnosed using a biopsy or extracting a skin sample.
Skin Cancer in Cats Treatment Options
When you hear the term "skin cancer in cats," chances are you will think of certain conventional treatment options like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Let's discuss these treatments in this part of our discussion:
Radiation therapy for skin cancer in cats
At its simplest, radiation therapy makes use of protons, electron beams, gamma rays, and similar high-energy radiation particles like X-rays to destroy cancer cells in cats. This type of treatment is often associated with side effects like loss of hair, nausea, and fatigue in feline patients.
Chemotherapy for skin cancer in cats
Chemotherapy utilizes drugs that are designed to prevent cancer cells, like those found in squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, from growing and multiplying. This type of treatment is also formulated to keep the spread of cancer cells in check. As for side effects, chemotherapy can lead to a significant loss of appetite, as well as bleeding and bruising in some cats.
A Premium Natural Product for Skin Cancer in Cats
Yes, you can treat skin cancer in cats using natural means!
Zumalka's PIPTOPET is designed to help bolster your cat's overall immune system health so it can do away with cancer by itself. Apart from skin cancer, this premium natural product is also formulated to help fight other types of cancer like squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and fibrosarcoma.
PIPTOPET is not just about helping your cat overcome cancer naturally. It can also be used to promote healthy oxygenation of the blood, maintain better long-term overall health as well as support the quality of life you've always wanted for your feline companion.
Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.
Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.