Brain tumor in cats is a common disease in older pets. Let’s see what the causes, symptoms and treatment of this pathology.
Brain tumor in cats affects older cats to a greater extent. These tumors can be primary that arise from the brain cells or their lining (meninges) or secondary tumors, that arise elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain. The most common primary brain tumors in dogs and cats are meningiomas, gliomas, papilloma of the choroid plexus and pituitary adenoma.
Meningiomas are the most frequent and derive from meninges (membranes that cover the brain) are slow growing and susceptible to treatment even if multiple malignant forms occur. Secondary brain tumors are tumors that spread through metastases to another part of the body and unfortunately have a good prognosis.
Types of brain tumor in cats
The brain is the central organ of the nervous system, the seat of cognitive, sensory, motor and vegetative functions found in the skull. When the tumor attacks this organism we can then distinguish it in degrees:
- Grade I: these are tumors that can be resolved already with surgery.
- Grade II: have a low degree of infiltration and proliferation, but they can recur or progress despite the surgery.
- Grade III: confirmed malignant tumors therefore it is necessary to resort to an adjuvant therapy (surgery, radiotherapy and chemo);
- Grade IV: when there is the presence of a cytological neoplasm with signs of necrosis, as in the case of multiform gliobastoma.
Symptoms of brain tumor in cats
The symptoms of a brain tumor in the cat derive from the mass that compresses or invades the brain and depends on the affected area. Brain tumors generally generate progressive signals in older animals. Symptoms often begin to be mild and then worsen, but fortunately not always.
They can start suddenly, for example, in an older cat it can start to have seizures out of nowhere or they can occur in a more subtle and gradual way, they can also increase and even decrease.
If the tumor affects the anterior brain, which is the area responsible for thought and behaviorsymptoms may include behavioral changes such as:
- increase or decrease in thirst or hunger;
- less awareness and vision on one side of the body;
- pain when pressing the head.
Indeed, the sudden appearance of seizures in cats is one of the most common symptoms the presence of a tumor in the anterior brain. If the tumor is deteriorating the brain stem, the animal’s ability to walk, mental alertness and the respiratory and cardiovascular systems could be damaged.
The most common symptoms of a brain stem tumor are:
- there loss of balance and weakness on one side of the body.
- head inclinations;
- wavy walk;
- turn in circles;
- difficulty swallowing;
- loss of cat appetite.
There may also be a change in barking, in the inability to move the eyes and paralysis. In some cases, a sick pet could go into a coma and die. A tumor in the cerebellum, which controls coordination of movements, can have symptoms that include:
- walking without coordination;
- tremors in the head;
- body swing.
In general, any animal over the age of five who exhibits new neurological symptoms should be examined for brain cancer. Having made the assessment and the clinical history of the cat, the veterinarian confirms his diagnosis by requesting further tests:
- Scintigraphy: an imaging technique, which produces an image by administering a radioactive tracer.
- Magnetic resonance imaging: these are the most reliable tests that allow a precise identification of the tumor in view of its surgical removal.
- An examination of the cerebrospinal fluid (fluid in which the brain, cerebellum and spinal cord are immersed) which reveals an increase in intracranial pressure.
- A biopsy: a histopathological analysis that consists of removal under general anesthesia a piece of tissue at the tumor site. After the biopsy, the obtained sample is analyzed and examined under a microscope in a histology laboratory to determine whether the tumor is cancerous or not. In the case of a malignant tumor, histology allows you to specify its type (for a glioma: astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, etc.), ihis grade (more or less rapid tumor development) and its stage (advancement of cancer in the body and metastasis formation).
Treatment of brain tumor in cats
Through the results of the resonance and the rest of the assessments, the vet will decide which treatment to perform, the options for treatment of brain tumor in cats are: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy (often one in support of the other) and the palliative treatment of cancer symptoms in cats.
Surgery is mainly carried out to relieve the animal’s symptoms and aims to eliminate as much malignant mass from the animal’s brain.
Radiation therapy logically takes place with sedation and this implies that the cat is in fairly optimal conditions, such that it can undergo anesthesia whenever you need to undergo radiation therapy sessions. Radiation therapy aims to slow down the progression of most types of brain tumors in pets.
Chemotherapy is not a very common treatment for this type of tumor, since the blood-brain barrier limits the effectiveness of drugs, few are the chemotherapy drugs that can cross the barrier.
In addition, these chemotherapy drugs can have devastating side effects, especially in the liver and bone marrow and the animal in this case must be carefully observed during treatment.
Chemotherapy can be administered in several ways:
- to treat cancer that has spread to other parts (Metastasized);
- before surgery to reduce the mass of the tumor;
- after surgery to kill cancer cells that have not been removed;
- in some types of tumors, including blood cancers or tumors that cannot be surgically removed, chemotherapy may be the only treatment.
Finally, by contacting a holistic vet, may be able to provide 100% natural therapies additional to the treatment already underway, which will reduce pain and inflammation and thus try to alleviate the pain to the animal through these palliative treatments.