What is feline lymphoma?

Feline lymphoma is a cancer in cats that has been associated with the feline leukemia virus and to a lesser extent with feline AIDS. Cats older than 8 or 9 years and male cats tend to be more at risk. It can attack a number of different parts of the body, but the digestive area is the most common.

What are the symptoms?

This can be hard to tell, because cats can get lymphoma in various different organs. The symptoms basically are different depending on where your cat has the cancer. For example, in the digestive tract, a common site for lymphoma, cats will show weight loss, vomiting, diet and appetite problems, diarrhea, and problems with their fur coat caused by not getting enough nutrients. Lymphoma in the cat’s nasal cavity can cause oddly colored discharges and congestion. Most of the symptoms are vague like this – you’ll know your cat is sick and having problems, but it’s impossible to really tell that it’s feline lymphoma without going to the vet for testing. Tumors in cats don’t really have any clear symptoms other than the indirect problems they cause for the part of the body they are in.

What is the treatment?

For lymphoma, sadly, the long term prognosis is usually not good. Cats average about six months with treatment, but they can live for several years. It depends on how far the tumors have progressed and how severe the cancer is. Usually chemotherapy is used for lymphomas in cats. If there the tumors are localized to one part of the cat, radiation therapy and surgery can work and are preferred instead. The cat will likely need immunotherapy and supplements to its diet to boost its immune system, especially if it has chemo.

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