cat cancer and tumors and growths

Cancers in Cats, Kittens

As cats age they become more succeptible to cancers and tumors. Sometimes the lumps are the result of injury, other times they are benign growths. Read below and consult your vet to understand more.

Cat with Brain Tumor


Dear Simba - My 5 year-old American short hair was displaying symptoms of
extreme dizziness and lack of coordination. My vet anesthetized her and took a long hard look at her ears, sinuses, throat, etc. She also took a series of skull x-rays.

My kitty's blood work has come back perfectly clean (no FIP or FIV) her ears and sinuses are fine - but the bad news is that they found some irregular growths in the center of her brain. I'm still waiting to hear back from the radiologist (my vet recommended we send the x-rays for a second look).
But I want to know what my options might be in this situation and what would be the best/most humane way to deal with my kitty. Also - any suggestions on what I should do for her day-to-day for her maximum comfort would be appreciated. Laura G

Dear Laura G,
So sorry to hear of kitty's condition. Depending on where in her head the tumor is located your vet may recommend surgery to remove the mass. With or without surgery, the next alternative is chemotherapy and radiation which as you know is used to kill the cancer cells. Cats can tolerate chemotherapy much better than can humans, without many of the same side effects.

As for what you can do. The first thing is to get your cat on a good diet. You can go with special diets recommended by your vet or go with homemade organic foods. If you decide to make homemade meals, be sure to use the highest quality protein and limit carbohydrates like rice. Feed a wide variety of raw organic vegetables, and supplement the food with high-quality fish oils. The following are good supplements, many can be added directly to your cat's food.
  • Essiac tea (FlorEssence) - a blend of cleansing & cancer-fighting herbs, made into a tea. Give 1oz on an empty stomach 3X a daily

  • IP6 - a vitamin B derivative.

  • Vitamin C - in high doses. Use the flavorless sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate ( ester C), dose to bowel tolerance and cut back slightly

  • Vitamin E - It is fat soluble, consult your vet on amounts to avoid overdose

  • Essential fatty acids - Salmon oil
Additional supplements
  • CoQ10
  • Cat's Claw
  • Milk Thistle (liver support)
  • Dandelion (kidneys)
  • Yarrow as a blood cleanser
  • Kelp
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Garlic
  • Ginseng with royal jelly
  • Alfalfa
  • Slippery elm (for nausea)
  • Aloe vera (w/o sodium benzoate)
  • Willard Water

- Simba



Cat with Growth on Neck



Dear Simba,
I recently adopted a cat named Emma, who is a wonderful calico. However, I found a growth coming out of her neck that got bigger and grew in a square-like shape. The vet told me she has what is known as a horn, a rare, genetic tumor-like growth. I am going to have her horn removed surgically, even though the vet said surgery is optional, because I do not want her to have to deal with it, especially if it gets longer (it is ~1" right now). Could you tell me more about horns? Shan

Dear Shan,
There are several factors that can cause a growth like that you described. I have listed some possibilities:
  • Horn cysts They arise from the hair follicle area. And usually affect only older animals. The horn cyst(s) can each grow up to 5cm in length. They are almost always benign, although there have been instances of these affecting lymph nodes.

  • Feline Mast Cell Tumor These commonly occur on the head and neck. They look like a mass of skin or plaque fixed to the skin or can look like nodes or domed masses.

  • Cutaneous horns These form from other skin lesions. There may be one or several horn-like growths of up to 5cm in length

  • Dermoid cysts These are usually hereditary and there may be one of multiple growths. The lesions are seen in young animals and are seen along the dorsal midline of the neck and sacrum.
Based on what you say it is entirely possible that Emma has a Dermoid cyst. However, it would be worthwhile to have your vet or veterinary oncologist perform a biopsy to ensure that Emma's horn is benign. Keep me posted. Simba

Follow-up
Simba - I wanted to let you know that Emma's horn was benign. She is recovering from the surgery and will have her stitches out on Tuesday.Other than keeping her away from trying to scratch her stitches(They're on her neck so they couldn't give her a protective collar, because it would rub where the incision was), everything has gone fine. She took her antibotics without too much hassle, thank goodness. Thank so much for the information and help! it is nice to know there's a place where people can go to get good advice about their kitties in addition to asking their vet! Take Care - Shan & a now hornless Emma ---Wonderful! Thanks for the note. Simba



Cat with Lump on Torso



Dear Simba,
My kitten has lumps growing around her nipples. She is 4-months old and she was only 2 of 4 to survive (her brothers both died) and I am worried that the lumps may be the same problem. The lumps come and go they went away for about a week then they came back again, some feel like little rings of fat and others feel like lumps. I would really like your advice. Thanks KS

Dear KS,
While the lumps could be caused by anything from inflammation, infection, a fatty (benign) tumor, or some other mass, the only way to know for sure is to have your vet check it out. I do have a couple of thoughts on what might be causing this.
  • Trauma: Lumps can occur from the collection of blood or serum under the skin (hematomas or sermas). These are usually due to some sort of trauma. Your vet can identify these by extracting the liquid from the lump. Because your kitten's lumps come and go and are of differing texture this may not be it.

  • Fibrosarcomas: These are tumors and they sometimes form for no known reason or around the area where shots were administered. The tumors need to be removed

  • Hernia: These can cause small cavities where part of her innards push out, (the lumps disappearance may be the innards being pushed in). Hernias are not usually life-threatening and can be dealt with by your vet.

  • Fat: Cats & Kittens store fat in their undersides. The fat tends to hang down in the bottom torso or it can take the form of a benign fatty tumor called a lipoma.
The possible causes could also be working in combination. The thing to remember is that only a qualified vet can make a diagnosis. The best thing to do is to have her checked out ASAP to find out what these are. If your vet decides that you should remove the mass, have a pathology lab test the removed mass for malignancy. Keep me posted. Simba


Dear Simba:
I found a female long haired tabby kitten (she is about 10 weeks old) a week ago that was crying on my doorstep. I will be taking her to the vet for a checkup, but in the meantime, I'm concerned she has a fleshy lump in her chest. There's no pain when I touch it, does not look like it is gotten larger or smaller, and it is totally covered in fur. What is this? - Worried 'bout My New Roomie.

Dear Worried 'bout My New Roomie,
Cats & Kittens usually store fat in their undersides. This fat tends to hang down in the bottom torso. Another possibility is that your kitten has lipoma, a benign fatty tumor. However, only a qualified vet can make a diagnosis. The best thing to do is to have her checked out ASAP to find out whether this is nothing of concern or something more serious. If your vet decides that you should remove the mass, have a pathology lab test the removed mass for malignancy. Keep me posted. Simba

Follow-up:
Dear Simba, I had asked you a few weeks ago about a stray kitty which had an odd lump on her belly which appeared to be under her skin and painless. You had offered some good advice and told me to let you know what the outcome was once I took Stela to the vet. She has a birth defect that turned out to be a small hernia. This caused a little cavity, where part of her innards are pushing out. The vet says it is not life threatening, and will be dealt with when she is fixed in a few months. Just thought I'd update you, and thanks for your help!
Great to hear Stela's going to be ok! Wonderful, thanks for the note - Simba




Dear Simba:
I have two adult cats, a mother and daughter. The mother is 11 years old and has always had digestive problems. She has been throwing after every meal. She has also developed a small lump on her belly, close to if not right on, her nipple. Can you give me any clue as to what this might be? The younger cat seems to be fine, she is eating regularly and we checked her for any similar lumps, but did not find any. Thank you. Concerned.


Dear Concerned,
Vomitting is not normal. This in conjunction with the lump and her history of intestinal problems appear to indicate a more serious issue. Please schedule a vet appointment as soon as you can and have the mother cat taken care of. Let me know how she does. Simba




Dear Simba,
My 4-month old kitten has a lump on his back.
My vet took some liquid out of the lump to test it. He said he saw something, but thought it was a reaction to the vaccination he got 3 weeks prior. I just recently found out that the mother had cancer. They do not know if the mother had the cancer while she was pregnant. Could my little kitten have inherited her cancer? This poor little kitten. He was born in a barn, he had ear mites, fleas, an infection in his eye plus worms. I had to put medicine in his eye and ears and wash him with a special shampoo three times a week. Do you think any of these things could have effected his health? MJ

Dear MJ,
Poor little guy! Certainly sounds as though he has had a tough time.
I have not heard of a mother passing along cancer to her kittens. It is possible that the mother passed on a genetic pre-disposition to certain growths, but it is highly unlikely that she passed on the actual cancer. I am happy that you are having the little guy tested. While the lump could be caused by anything from inflammation, infection, a fatty (benign) tumor, or some other mass, the only way to know for sure is to have your vet check it out. As for the treatment he received when he was little affecting his health, I think any impact it had was for the better (you did all the right things!). Keep me posted, Simba

Cat with Oral Cancer


Hi Simba,
I recently had my 8-year-old Himalayan cat examined for a protruding tongue. The vet said that his tongue appeared to be normal; however, she did notice a slight thickness at its base. I became concerned when she told me that oral cancer was a possibility and that it is very difficult to treat. My cat is eating well and is very playful. It is hard for me to believe that he could be that ill. Is there any possibility that something else could be causing his problem? He does not stick his tongue out all the time but it does seem to be more frequent. Any advice would be most appreciated. Pamela M

Dear Pamela M,
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common type of oral cancer amongst cats. It is characterized by expansion in the affected area and is usually fatal. There are other less common types of oral malignancies such as melanoma, fibrosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and undifferentiated carcinomas.

Remember also that not every oral swelling is malignant. Cats are frequently effected by treatable oral foreign body infections, infections caused by dead or dying teeth or tissue, nasal/pharynx polyps, fungal infections among many others. It is important that your cat have a biopsy before you make any decisions. Keep me posted. Simba