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Cat skin cancer: Type | Cause | Symptoms | Treatments

tumor in the cat's skin


Cat skin cancer: Type | Cause | Symptoms | Treatments

Cat skin cancer (Hair, Abdomen and legs)  is one of the most common diseases in felines. A periodic check of the body of our animal is the first thing to do.

The skin is exposed to a large amount of agents capable of causing cancer. (Photo Pixabay)

Cat’s skin is exposed to a large amount of cancer-causing agents (called carcinogens). As a result, there are an albeit high number and a large variety of tumors in the cat, which can develop in the skin, in the subcutaneous tissue and in the appendages located in the dermis: the sweat glands, the sebaceous glands and the hair follicles.

The skin is made up of three layers of overlapping fabric: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis, which forms the interface between the cat’s organism and the environment. The primary role is to provide vital protection by forming a barrier against attacks from the outside. In the next paragraphs we will go to treat cat skin cancer from possible causes to cure.

Types of skin cancer in cats

There are several types of skin cancer that affect cats (Photo Pixabay)


Melanoma in cats, this skin cancer can develop in all parts of the body, even inside the mouth. It is skin cancer best known and dangerous in catsbut fortunately it is also the least frequent. To allow a more favorable prognosis for the animal, we need to act quickly. Regardless of race, size or gender, melanomas can develop.


The mast cell in the cat, as for the mast cell in the dog, are more frequent in cats with neoplasms on the hind legs, scrotum or abdomen, in the form of small nodules, which rarely exceed an inch. They must be diagnosed in advance to allow effective treatment. As they can also attack the animal’s spleen, causing swelling, severe pain and vomiting.

Basal cell carcinoma

Generally, these abnormal masses are concentrated in the chest, in the back and in the upper part of the cat’s head where small nodules form under the animal’s skin. The most common type of skin cancer in cats. The veterinarian will perform a biopsy on a sample of skin and depending on the progress of the carcinoma and the state of health of the animal, anticancer treatments or surgery may be applied.

Squamous cell carcinoma

These formations are concentrated in regions that contain holes, such as the mouth, ears and nose. This tumor progresses rapidly and aggressively, so it requires early diagnosis and immediate attention. The main cause of squamous cell carcinoma is excessive exposure to sunlight.

Causes of skin cancer in cats

rest where it happens
The main causes of skin cancer in cats (Photo Unsplash)

Benign or malignant tumors in cats can have different causes. Generally, we associate skin cancer in cats with udisproportionate exposure to sunlight. In fact, this is one of the main causes of most skin cancers, although there are other risk factors and genetic predisposition also plays a decisive role.

These are the main causes associated with skin cancers in cats:

  • obesity and associated diseases (diabetes, for example);
  • exposure to chemicals or carcinogens;
  • tumors and neoplasms in other organs or regions of the body;
  • viral infections, such as AIDS and feline leukemia.

Symptoms of cat skin cancer

sick cat
List of symptoms of cat with skin cancer. (Photo Pixabay)

The symptoms of skin cancer in cats are easy to recognize.

These symptoms are:

  • ulcers;
  • Bowen’s disease;
  • skin that changes color and develops an ulcer in the center;
  • the coiled hairs come off easily.
  • a crust or bleeding on the skin that does not disappear with antibiotics or creams;
  • pressure ulcers or growths scattered on the body, the most frequent places are the front of the nose (nasal plane), the eyelids, the lips and the tips of the ears;
  • wounds that do not heal for several months;
  • dry material and crusts on the hairs near the wound;
  • no less than 30 head, neck and shoulder injuries;
  • growth in areas with white hair and fair skin.


head injury in cats
Diagnosis of skin cancer in cats (photo iStock)

To properly and properly diagnose carcinoma in cats, you will need to provide the vet with one complete history of feline health, the symptoms you may have encountered and the likely accidents that may have caused the disease, for example, a recent attack that could have caused injury to the skin or a flea infestation that could have left open wounds and deep scratches.

Subsequently, the veterinarian will carry out a thorough physical examination of the cat, (giving particular attention to possible growths or wounds in the skin that have not healed for several months). It will also palpate the cat’s lymph nodes to evaluate their swelling, and determine if the body is fighting an invasive disease or infection.

He will take lymphatic fluid sample for laboratory analysis. The presence of cancer cells in the lymphatic glands will be indicative of metastasis in the body. Basic laboratory tests will be performed on the cat, that is: a complete blood count and a biochemical profile to confirm that the cat’s organs have normal functionality.

The vet can also take x-rays on the cat’s chest and abdomen so you can observe the condition of the lungs and organs, since the carcinomas are generally malignant and rapidly metastasize. Standard biopsies will be performed for wounds and growths.

This is the best way to determine exactly what type of skin cancer your cat is suffering from. All of this will be done even if the cat has a tumor on one of its paws, the vet will advise the x-rays to confirm if the tumor has not spread there.


pregnancy cat stages
Surgical treatment can be supported by chemo and radio (Photo iStock)

The treatment of a skin tumor in the malignant cat is variable depending on the type of tumor, its position, its degree and its stage. Surgical removal is simpler when the tumor is small and is operated on time. The smaller the tumor, the lower the risk of leaving the cancer cells after its removal.

The cat will therefore have a greater chance of recovery. In all cases, the tumor must be removed. Surgery is performed in most cases and can be combined with radiation therapy and / or chemotherapy.

When the tumor is large and its proliferation power is important, it is possible to use radiation therapy in addition to surgery and therefore minimize the risk of recurrence. This is called adjuvant radiation therapy which, after removal of the tumor, is performed in order to eliminate any cancer cells that remain locally in the tissues.

In addition to surgery when metastases have been detected in other parts of the cat’s body, chemotherapy is useful, which consists in the administration of drugs that act on cancer cells. The purpose of the treatment is to destroy cells and stop multiplication.

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