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Everything you need to know about stomach cancer in cats

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Stomach cancer in cats takes several different forms. But none of them come with very obvious symptoms, so you need to be aware of what cat stomach cancer involves

By G. John Cole

Cancer of the stomach is one of the bad ones. It can easily be mistaken for another illness, if spotted at all. Let’s take a look at what you can do to protect your cat and take the necessary action if the worst happens.

What is stomach cancer in cats?

Stomach cancer occurs when sick cells in a cat’s belly begin to divide and reproduce unusually, causing a tumour. If the tumour continues to grow and spread rapidly, it is known as ‘malignant.’ If not, it is ‘benign.’

Unfortunately, both types are bad news for moggies with stomach cancer, partly because there’s little a vet can do to treat them. Even if stomach cancer is removed before spreading, there’s a good chance that it will return. The sooner your cat receives attention for its stomach cancer, the better its chances for a longer life.

Symptoms of stomach cancer in cats

Cat stomach cancer primarily shows up through weight loss or excessive vomiting, sometimes with blood mixed in. Your cat may also become lethargic due to its reduced ability to eat or digest food.

The creature may also suffer pain around its belly, or lumps and bumps you can feel. Its poo may become black and tar-like. This is digested blood from moggo’s stomach. Dehydration and anaemia can also be also symptoms of cancer.

What to do if you think your cat has feline stomach cancer

As with all cancer scares, it’s important to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. The quicker that action is taken, the less chance there is of the cancer spreading. The first thing the vet will do is ask for a medical history and details about the creature’s symptoms.

Your cat’s vet will want to carry out tests to see if it really is cancer that’s upsetting your cat’s belly. Ordinary x-rays are not much help in this situation. The vet may instead opt for an ultrasound or radiograph to see what’s going on inside.

This is just the beginning. The vet will usually need more information to confirm what she finds. Blood tests will be next.

Following that, she may want to use a gastroscopy. This is when a camera is fed through to your cat’s stomach to take a look around and bring back some cells to test (biopsy). She will put your cat under an anaesthetic for this.

If none of this is conclusive, the next step is to open moggy up. Exploratory surgery is the clearest way to look for stomach cancer, and begin to remove it if it’s there.

What happens if your cat has stomach cancer

What happens next depends on how advanced your cat’s cancer has become. Even with surgery, most cats with stomach cancer will struggle to live another six months. So you need to look at how much pain it is in now, how much distress treatment will cause, and the likelihood of survival in your cat’s particular case. Euthanasia or palliative care might be better options than treatment.

Unfortunately, chemotherapy doesn’t seem to do much good for cat stomach cancer. And radiotherapy is risky because your cat’s stomach is jumbled up among its other organs. Zapping them with all that radiation is not always a good idea.

So most cats who opt for treatment will go down the surgery route. The cat will be hooked up to an IV for fluids and possibly antibiotics, and put under anaesthetic. The surgeon will then open it up to remove the cancer from the stomach and nearby areas where it has spread. Unfortunately, if it has spread too far then the outlook isn’t good.

After this, your cat will probably be kept in for observation for a day or so. Once you get puss home, you’ll want to give your cat a special diet. This will help it build its strength back up while its belly is still not coping with normal cat food.

Surgery may only prolong a cat’s life by a year or so. Stomach cancer is a real villain for cats. So if the cat in your life gets cancer, it is best to concentrate on doing what you can to give it a comfortable life, rather than measuring happiness in months or years.