Skin cancer in cats is often caused by sun exposure and can occur in outdoor, and indoor cats. Here, our Enterprise vets discuss skin cancer in cats including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
Skin Cancer in Cats
It doesn't matter if you have an indoor or an outdoor kitty, they are still at risk of getting skin cancer. Your cat will have an increased risk if they spend a lot of time outside in the sun or relaxing inside next to a window that's exposed to sunlight.
Skin cancer can take many shapes and sizes in our feline companions from bumps, lumps, lesions, and rashes to ulcers and scabs. Any of these may appear red, black, pink, brown, or grey. As a cat owner, you should always be monitoring your feline's skin for any bumps or lumps that appear to be unusual, if you do discover something unusual on your pet's skin, call your vet immediately.
While most bumps and lumps on your cat's skin are generally harmless, detecting cancerous ones early and starting treatments as fast as possible is your kitty's best chance at making a full recovery.
There are also different types of skin cancers in cats which include:
- Basal cell tumors
- Mast cell cancer
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Causes of Cat Skin Cancer
The leading cause of skin cancer in cats is exposure to the sun, whether it's from spending time outside in the summer or sleeping inside your home through your kitty's favorite window. Your cat may have a higher risk of developing skin cancer if they have thin or light-colored fur, or if they have previously had a sunburn.
Other less common causes of cat skin cancer can include excessive licking of certain areas on the skin, serious burns, and physical trauma.
Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer in Cats
Below we have listed a few of the most common symptoms of skin cancer in cats:
- Sores that are small, crusty, or scabby
- Unusual lumps or bumps on the body
- Ulcerated lesions that ooze fluid or blood
- Lesions that have irregular, hardened borders
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat contact your veterinarian as quickly as possible. The sooner your kitty's cancer is diagnosed and attended to, the better chance they have of making a full recovery.
Diagnosing Your Cat's Skin Cancer
If your vet believes your cat might have skin cancer they may start the diagnostic process by performing a physical examination and a fine needle aspiration or biopsy. This helps to determine the type and form of cancer your kitty might have.
Sometimes to make an official diagnosis your vet might need to obtain more information by performing a surgical biopsy. Other tests your vet may perform include X-rays or testing fluids drawn from your pet's lymph nodes.
Treatment for Skin Cancer in Cats
Luckily most skin cancers in cats can be treated and have a positive prognosis. However, the treatments and outcomes depend on the type of skin cancer your cat has, its severity, where it is located, and the severity.
Sometimes sores can be treated before they turn cancerous with topical medication. Other cases will require surgery to remove the cat's cancer and infected tissues (this also helps keep cancer from regrowing). If your kitty's cancer has spread or become too large to remove surgically chemotherapy or radiation may be needed.
If your cat does require chemotherapy they may experience a lack of appetite and weight loss following the procedure and may be given medications to help alleviate any side effects caused by their treatment.
In many situations, cats can make a complete recovery and live full, happy, and healthy lives without any further issues. Although, there are situations where cancer does return.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.