You never want to hear a doctor tell you that you have cancer. After all, cancer is a very serious illness with an unfortunately high mortality rate. But cancer doesn’t just impact humans. Although cancer is more common in both humans and in other animals like dogs, cats can get cancer, too. However, it can often be difficult to detect in cats. Here are five signs to watch for and an explanation of why it can be so hard to notice in cats.
Hiding All the Time
One of the most common signs that your cat is ill – with cancer or any other illness – is that he may hide more often. Cats instinctively hide when they’re sick because they fear becoming prey when they’re weak and vulnerable. But unfortunately, this particular symptom also makes it a lot harder to notice when your cat is sick. If you’re not watching very closely, your cat can very easily hide a serious illness like cancer. Sick cats are more likely to hide in places, such as closets and behind furniture. Cats often like to sleep in secluded areas, but this is different because you may have trouble finding him.
New Lumps and Bumps
You probably spend a lot of time cuddling with your cat. So you're pretty familiar with what his body usually feels like. If you notice some new lumps and bumps anywhere on his body that weren’t there before, it’s definitely time for a trip to the vet. Those strange lumpy spots could be on any part of the body, from legs to abdomen. They could be signs of tumors which may be either cancerous or benign, which you won’t know until the veterinarian checks it out.
Weight Loss and Change in Appetite
Much like hiding, weight loss and a change in appetite are symptoms that can sneak up on you if you’re not paying close attention. It can be especially difficult to notice that your cat is eating less if you have a multi-cat household and leave food out all day. Like humans, sick cats often lose their appetite and lose weight as a result. If you notice that the food dish doesn’t seem to be getting empty as fast or your cat feels lighter when you pick her up, it’s definitely worthwhile to seek an expert opinion. Perhaps ironically, weight gain can be a sign of cancer as well.
When your cat is sick with cancer, you might notice that she has an unpleasant smell. Sick cats can have unusual odors in any of several body parts, including their nose, mouth, skin, or anal regions. Cats don't usually enjoy being bathed, but when they're ill, the smell won't wash off. It’s a very distinctly unpleasant, almost sour smell that is quite unlike any other odor you’ve noticed before in your cat.
Change in Bathroom Habits
You may notice a change in bathroom habits if your cat has cancer. If you notice that he’s having diarrhea or loose stools, seems to be straining to poop or has blood in the stool, it can be a sign of a more serious illness. This can have many causes in addition to cancer as well and may be difficult to diagnose. A product like PrettyLitter can help you to detect changes in urine and feces that can indicate that it’s time to seek veterinary attention.