Cures for cats with cancer are elusive, to say the least. But Blue Buffalo and the Petco Foundation are determined to find the answers.The two recently announced plans to raise an additional $2.6 million this year to add to the $15 million they’ve already invested in companion animal cancer research and treatment.
They started the Pet Cancer Awareness Campaign in 2010 with the goals of finding a cure for dogs and cats with cancer, raising awareness of this devastating disease and providing information and financial assistance to people whose animal companions have cancer.
Help With Vet Bills For Cats With Cancer
Watch Your Cat For Warning Signs
Many of the signs of cats with cancer are similar to the symptoms of other chronic diseases. All of these are worth a trip to the vet
- Swollen Lymph nodes. You’ll find them behind the jaw or knee. They can be a sign of lymphoma, one of the most common and more treatable forms of cancer in cats.
- An enlarging or changing lump. A lump that’s growing or changing in shape or texture should be biopsied. Run your hands over your entire cat often. Your cat will love this, and you might find information you need to know.
- Abdominal distension is always cause for concern. It could indicate a mass or tumor or could be a sign of bleeding occurring in that area.
- Weight loss is always cause for concern, too. Cats with cancer often experience dramatic weight loss. So do hyperthyroid and diabetic cats.
- Chronic vomiting or diarrhea are also warning signs that something is wrong. They can be signs of irritable bowel disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes or cancer.
- Bad breath is another warning sign that requires immediate attention. It’s most often a sign of dental disease, but it can also be a symptom of an oral tumor.
- Unexplained bleeding.
- A dry, unproductive cough requires an immediate trip to the vet. It can be a sign of lung cancer, asthma or heart disease.
- Straining to urinate is usually a sign of bladder stones or crystals. This can be life-threatening in a male cat. But straining to urinate can also be a sign of bladder cancer.
If you have a cat with cancer, early detection can make a real difference in her quality of life and prognosis.
Protecting Our Cats From Cancer
Sadly, it’s not possible to protect our cats from all forms of cancer. But there are some things we can do to try to minimize the risk.
- Avoid secondhand smoke. Your cigarette smoke is an irritant to cats as they breathe. And veterinary oncologist Joanne Intile says the carcinogens in cigarette smoke land on the cats’ fur, and the cats ingest them as they groom themselves. The hypothesis is that this can lead to oral cancer.
- Avoid other irritants like scented litter, air and carpet fresheners, dryer sheets and scented candles, too. The essential oils in all of them can be toxic to cats. And holistic veterinarian Dennis Thomas says irritation can lead to inflammation, which can lead to cancer.
- Beware of the sun if you have a white cat. Overexposure to UV rays can cause skin cancer. Yes, cats can wear sunscreen!
- Lawn chemicals may cause lymphoma. Since studies are inconclusive, Dr. Intile recommends keeping cats and dogs away from treated lawns. It’s also likely these chemicals harm birds and wildlife.
- Avoid starchy food. Cats and dogs convert starch to sugar, and sugar can cause inflammation, Dr. Thomas says. There are many reasons to give your cat an all-wet-food diet, and this is just one of them. He suggests feeding non-processed food and giving cats digestive enzymes to aid with efficient digestion.
- Don’t over-vaccinate. Your cat doesn’t need those “annual shots.” If you’re in doubt, ask for titer tests (simple blood tests) to make sure your cat still has immunity.
- Dr. Thomas also suggests trying to reduce the electromagnetic radiation that comes from your cell phone, computer and other electronics.
“It’s often difficult to prove cause and effect when it comes to cancer,” Dr. Intile says.
“There are so many potential interactions between genes and environmental influences that could lead to the development of a tumor, and ultimately, we may never know exactly what caused the cancer in the first place.”
What is known is that about six million cats are diagnosed with cancer each year, according to the Animal Cancer Foundation’s website. The most common kinds of cancer in cats: lymphoma, feline leukemia, mammary tumors, squamous cell carcinoma and fibrosarcoma.
Typical cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. But acupuncture, Chinese herbs and homeopathy can help, too, if you see an integrative (holistic) vet who will work with your cat’s oncologist.