Preventing Cancer In Cats: How To Minimize The Risk

Did you know that having a cat in your home can be good for your health? Research has shown that owning a cat can lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress level. So, it seems only fair that — in return — you should help your cat live a long and healthy life. One way you can do that is by taking steps to reduce your cat’s chances of developing cancer. Unfortunately, more than 6 million cats are diagnosed with some form of cancer each year. The good news is that many types of cancer, such as lymphoma, can be treated if caught during their early stages.

Although there is no guaranteed protocol for preventing cancer in cats, you can help your feline’s chances of avoiding this dreaded disease by taking these seven steps:

Keep Your Cat Away from Secondhand and Thirdhand Smoke

Secondhand and thirdhand smoke (residual nicotine left on indoor surfaces from smoking) can be very detrimental to the health of a cat. While lung cancer is fairly rare in cats, exposure to passive smoking could increase a feline’s risk of developing nasal cancers, such as carcinomas and sarcomas. The carcinogenic chemicals from passive smoking can also get on your cat’s fur. Problems arise when your cat then licks and cleans their fur and accidentally ingests these chemicals. It is believed that this could increase your cat’s chances of getting squamous cell carcinoma and lymphoma.

Feed Your Feline a Healthy Diet

Cats belong to a category of animals known as obligate carnivores. That means their bodies require meat to stay healthy. In addition, cats need certain vitamins and minerals. So, always feed your cat a balanced diet that has been specially formulated to meet their needs. It’s important to note that what is considered a healthy diet for one cat may differ for another and is dependent on several factors, including a feline’s age and activity level. In other words, a diet that is perfect for a growing kitten may cause a mature cat to gain weight. If you have any questions about your cat’s specific nutritional needs, talk with your veterinarian, who can guide you on the appropriate diet for your feline.

Protect Your Feline From Excessive Sun Exposure

Your cat may love to nap in the sunshine, but it’s best to limit his or her exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. While cats don’t develop the same types of skin cancers as humans do, they can get certain solar-induced cancers, including squamous cell carcinoma, especially in areas with less pigmentation, such as a pink nose or around the eyes and ears where there is white fur. Also, felines that don’t have fur — such as Sphynx cats — or that have light-colored fur may be more prone to certain types of cancers.

Minimize Your Cat’s Exposures to Carcinogenic Chemicals

Help your cat avoid carcinogenic chemicals whenever possible. For example, keep your cat indoors if you note that pesticides are being applied to lawns in your area. Even if you don’t use pesticides yourselves, your lawn could be infiltrated by dangerous chemicals if a neighbor applies them to their property. Asbestos is another chemical that you’ll want your cat to avoid. Cats who have been exposed to this carcinogenic can develop an aggressive form of cancer called mesothelioma.

Know Your Cat’s Breed History

It is believed that some purebred cats may be more susceptible to cancer than mixed-breed felines. So, do your research and understand the types of diseases, including cancer, that your cat’s breed may be at risk of developing. By educating yourself, you can be proactive and on the lookout for any symptoms of cancer that your feline may be more prone to getting. For example, if you have a Sphinx with no fur for protection against the sun, you should be checking him or her on a regular basis for signs of squamous cell carcinoma, such as a sore that won’t heal.

Perform At-home Checks

Although you in all likelihood are not a veterinarian, you are the person who probably knows your cat the best. By taking the time to carefully check your cat’s body for any unusual lumps or bumps on a regular basis, it’s possible you could find a cancerous tumor while it is still in its early stage and more easily treated. You should also keep an eye on your cat’s bodily functions. That way you can be aware of any unusual changes in your cat’s behavior, such as drinking more water or more frequent urination.

Take Your Cat for Regular Wellness Visits

Never underestimate the value of regular wellness visits for your cat. During these checkups, your veterinarian will examine your cat carefully for signs and symptoms of cancer and other diseases. Your veterinarian may also perform tests, such as bloodwork, which could detect health issues that were not revealed during a physical examination.

PetCure Oncology Cares for Your Cat

Hopefully, these seven tips will help you raise a strong and healthy cat — one that will be better prepared physically to ward off diseases, such as cancer. But even with the best care, some cats will still develop cancer. And while a cancer diagnosis can be frightening for an owner to hear about, we are fortunate to live in a time when cats can be cared for by veterinary oncologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of this dreaded disease. These oncologists can provide your cat with advanced treatments that could significantly increase their life expectancy or even cure certain types of cancer.

At PetCure Oncology, we specialize in several of these state-of-the-art cancer treatments, including Stereotactic Radiation. This innovative treatment is non-invasive and also results in fewer side effects than traditional radiation therapy. At PetCure Oncology, we also provide our patients with something equally important — compassionate care. We know that your cat is not just a pet but a beloved family member. And so we go out of our way to make you and your pet as comfortable as possible throughout the entire cancer treatment process. To learn more about our treatments, please contact a location near you.

The contents of this article were provided in part by Dr. Renee Alsarraf, DVM, DACVIM (Oncology), a board-certified veterinary medical oncologist and member of PetCure Radiation Oncology Specialists (PROS).

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