Cancer is probably one of the most dreaded diagnoses a person can hear, whether the diagnosis refers to yourself, a two-legged loved one, or a four-legged companion. Unfortunately, our cats can get cancer too.
Preventing cancer for your feline friend may not be totally possible, and there may be some factors (like genetics) that are beyond your control. However, there are some things that you can control that may provide your cat some protection against cancer, as well as some other diseases. Firstly, make sure your cat is getting good nutrition. A good diet can go a long ways towards keeping your cat healthy. Be sure his diet is well-balanced and complete, with high-quality ingredients. If you prepare your cat's meals yourself, be sure all of his nutritional needs are being met. Next, make sure your cat stays lean. Obesity can predispose your cat to many different diseases, and cancer may be among these diseases. We know now that fat cells secrete hormones that can cause many undesirable effects. Do not overfeed your cat, and make sure he gets plenty of exercise by providing toys and other forms of interactive play. Avoid exposing your cat to environmental poisons. Be cautious about using lawn chemicals, cleaning chemicals and other items that may contain cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) around your cat. If the worst happens and your cat does develop cancer, early diagnosis can give him a much better chance of recovery. Learn to do a head to tail check of your cat and do it regularly. Look for the following:
-Lumps and bumps on or under your cat's skin
-Abnormal odors from your cat's mouth, ears or any other part of your cat's body
-Abnormal discharges from any part of your cat's body, including blood, pus or any other abnormal substance
-Wounds that do not heal
-Change in appetite
-Difficulty or pain when eating or difficulty swallowing
-Vomiting or diarrhea
-Changes in your cat’s urinary or bowel habits
-Limping or other evidence of pain while your cat is walking, running or jumping
-Coughing or difficulty breathing
Needless to say, if you notice any of these symptoms, or your cat is otherwise not acting like himself, these symptoms should not ignored. Symptoms like these may or may not be an indication that your cat has cancer, but they are an indication that something is not right and that your cat should be checked by your veterinarian. The sooner the problem is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated, and the more likely that your cat can be cured.
Dr. Lorie Huston