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4 Types of Common Cat Cancers to Look Out For

Dr. Britney Lipps, DVM | Jul 28, 2022

No pet parent wants to imagine their fur baby fighting a disease. But with 1 in 5 cats prone to developing cancer in their lifetime, getting informed early is essential.

Some cat cancers are more common than others. And some cancers are more treatable than others. Many cats go on to live long and healthy lives even after a cancer diagnosis. 

In this article, we’ll cover the most common types of cat cancers and the signs to look out for. 

1. Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a blood cancer that develops in the lymph nodes and causes them to swell. It is most commonly seen in the intestines but can also develop in the spleen, liver, and bone marrow.

Lymphoma is connected to the common viral infection, feline leukemia (FeLV). Thanks to the relatively effective FeLV vaccine, Lymphoma is not as prevalent in our feline friends as in the past. However, it is still the most common cat cancer, affecting Siamese cats the most. It is also just as common in dogs, with over 30 different types of canine Lymphoma recorded.

The treatment for lymphoma in cats is usually chemotherapy. For “low-grade” lymphoma, steroids like prednisone may be used alongside an oral chemotherapy agent. 

Common symptoms of lymphoma in cats:

  • Swelling
  • Masses (abdomen most common)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing problems

Note: Signs of lymphoma can be very vague. If your cat is acting out of the ordinary or otherwise seems ill, contact your veterinarian for a professional assessment. 

2. Squamous cell carcinoma 

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a skin cancer commonly diagnosed by small, scabby sores that resemble fish scales and don't heal. They can be found around the mouth or on the body. Because exposure to sunlight is a common cause of SCC, white cats and hairless cats like the Sphynx are more at risk.

The treatment and prognosis of this cancer depend on when it is diagnosed. If caught early, squamous cell carcinoma is easily treated. However, if undetected, it can quickly spread to other body parts and become fatal. 

Common symptoms of SCC in cats:

  • Scabs or sores
  • Masses 
  • Tumours
  • Weight loss
  • Drooling, bad breath, or difficulty eating (oral SCC)

3. Mammary (breast) cancer

Mammary cancer is most commonly seen in older unsterilized female cats, though it can affect any kitty. This type of cancer manifests as a tumour that affects the mammary glands and can spread to the local lymph nodes and even the lungs.

The most common treatment is to surgically remove the tumour. The prognosis is much more favourable for small tumours than larger ones. The signs of feline breast cancer include swelling or infection in the breasts or mammary glands and nodules (masses) under the skin.

Common symptoms of mammary cancer in cats:

  • Swelling
  • Nodules (i.e., small lumps)
  • Masses
  • Tumours
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss

4. Fibrosarcoma

Fibrosarcoma is a type of cat cancer that targets the soft tissue. Tumours of this type are typically slow to spread to other parts of the body. Locally, however, the tumours can be quite aggressive.

The most common treatment for fibrosarcoma in cats is surgery to remove the tumour(s). Unfortunately, it is common for tumours to return with more treatment needed. This may involve chemotherapy or radiation. Patients may live cancer-free for 1-2 years following effective treatment. 

Common symptoms of fibrosarcoma in cats:

  • Pain and sensitivity
  • Tumours
  • General discomfort
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite or anorexia

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Your cat becoming ill or injured can throw a curveball into the family’s financial future. Furkin Pet Insurance coverage helps you recover your expenses, while your cat receives the necessary veterinary medical care. It’s a win-win that helps to put everybody back into play.

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The 3 most common cancers in cats. Pet Health Network. (n.d.). Retrieved May 31, 2022, from

Top 5 cancers in cats. Fetch. (2022, April 7). Retrieved May 31, 2022, from