Many issues may affect your cat’s intestines. Cats may experience indigestion and diarrhea, and they may also experience abdominal pain and vomiting. However, these issues can lead to serious health problems if not properly managed. In some cases, these issues may already be symptoms of severe medical conditions, such as intestinal cancer. Below are what every pet owner needs to know about intestinal cancer in cats.
What is Intestinal Cancer in Cats?
Intestinal cancer is a form of cancer that affects the lining of the intestines. It is characterized by abnormal growth of cells or tumors in the intestines. Intestinal cancer can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the colon.
Intestinal tumors may either be benign or malignant. Unfortunately, most intestinal tumors are malignant. Worse, they are prone to metastasize and spread to other areas of the body. As a result, they are often fatal. The most common types of tumors seen in cats are:
- Lymphoma – located in the small intestine,
- Adenocarcinoma – found in the large intestine,
- Mast cell tumor – formed masses in the intestines; and,
- Leiomyosarcoma – originated in the muscles of the intestines.
Other types of tumors can also be seen but are less common. These include gastrointestinal stromal tumors, hemangiosarcoma, plasma cell tumors, and carcinoids.
Causes of Intestinal Cancer in Cats
Although the exact causes of intestinal cancer are unknown, it has been associated with various factors. These include diet, obesity, vitamin deficiencies, chronic infections, and hereditary conditions. In addition, other conditions, such as diabetes and end-stage renal failure, can increase the risk of developing intestinal cancer.
Notably, Siamese cats are also more susceptible to developing this disease. Intestinal tumors also tend to develop more frequently in cats of old age, around 10 to 12 years of age. More so, males are more likely to develop the disease than females.
Symptoms of Intestinal Cancer in Cats
The symptoms of intestinal cancer in cats vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. The tumor that metastasized may also have different sets of symptoms. Although generally, its common symptoms are similar to those of other gastrointestinal issues. These include vomiting, poor appetite, loss of weight, and a change in stool frequency. In addition, cats may also experience bleeding, abdominal pain, lethargy, lethargy, depression, diarrhea, and constipation. Considering this, you should seek help from your vet as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.
How to Diagnose Intestinal Cancer in Cats
To properly diagnose intestinal cancer in cats, the veterinarian will first conduct a physical examination of the cat. In addition, they may also perform a blood test to check for anemia or other blood disorders. In the case of chronic vomiting, the cat may also need to have a blood workup to rule out a gastrointestinal infection. They may also perform fecal tests to check for parasites or to determine if the cat has intestinal worms.
The veterinarian may also use imaging tests, such as ultrasounds and radiographs, to rule out other conditions and assess the disease’s extent. Lastly, the veterinarian may biopsy the affected area for a definitive diagnosis. This test will allow them to determine the exact type of cancer and estimate its prognosis. After this, the veterinarian will create a treatment plan for the cat based on the testing results.
Treatment of Intestinal Cancer in Cats
The treatment of intestinal cancer in cats depends on the type and stage of the disease. It may involve surgical removal of the tumor, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these treatments.
In the case of early-stage disease, surgical removal of the cancer is often sufficient to cure the cat. On the other hand, the veterinarian may recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy for late-stage conditions to improve the cat’s prognosis. In some cases, however, cancer may resist the treatment, and the cat may need additional treatments to combat it.
In general, the prognosis is favorable for cats with early-stage disease. On the other hand, cats with late-stage disease have a lower likelihood of recovery and may even suffer from long-term complications.
Intestinal cancer is a serious, potentially fatal health problem in cats characterized by tumors in any part of the gastrointestinal tract. The most common ones are those found in the small and large intestines. Unfortunately, malignant tumors tend to metastasize and spread to other organs and body parts, thus worsening the condition. More so, intestinal cancer in cats often progresses undiagnosed because its symptoms are primarily similar to other gastrointestinal issues.
Several factors increase a cat’s risk of developing intestinal cancer. Aside from hereditary conditions and chronic infections, male Siamese cats are also more prone to intestinal cancer. The veterinarian will develop a treatment plan depending on cancer’s location, type, and stage. If detected early, intestinal cancer may easily be treated with surgery.