Mammary Tumors in Cats: Part IV July1,2011


Addie 7/1/2011 Trying to scratch after removal of E-collar.


Addie 7/1/2011
Addie 7/1/2011 (Day 10 post op) Healing of in line mastectomy

 According to research, cats are more susceptible for a teat to become cancerous if they have kittens, several heats or are not spayed before the age of 6 months. In general, mammary tumors occur at 9 years old and above and is seldom found in younger cats. The “books” reccomend getting your cat “fixed” before their first heat cycle. It seems that hormones going willy nilly play a part in this disease from hell. Among all cats, the Siamese, Persian, and the calico cat (which is not a breed but a color pattern) in that order, have a higher rate of developing cancer.     

Authorities in veterinary health suggest that your cat should be inspected monthly just as humans should perform regular self breast exams. For the exam, stand your cat up and palpate under the arms and in the groin area. Next palpate each breast- there are 4 teats on each side. Next roll your cat on each side and exam each breast and then lastly try to put your cat on its back and manually and visually inspect each teat (breast). Do not forget that there are 8 breasts to examine. At this time you can again examine each arm pit and then exam each groin area.  Examining your cat is not that difficult unless you happen to own a cat with a nasty disposition. If you can not examine your cat and if you can afford monthly vet visits, then by all means take your cat to your vet and be present when the examination is done. Watching your veterinarian examine your cat will give you some direction on how it is done.     

If your cat is unwilling to allow the exam, then begin getting them to warm up to the idea that exams mean lots of petting and treats. Reward your cat with a tasty treat each time you handle your pet. Some cats just need to become familiar with being touched in the underbelly area. While most cats enjoy a belly rub, some cats do not. So this is where the treats come in handy.     

Well , by now you are saying rubbish to all of that. “My cat is most likely safe from getting a mammary tumor.”  Well folks, it is more common that you think and it affects dogs also. About one cat in 4,000 will develop a mammary tumor. The trick is to find that thing from hell when it is very small. Any tumor under 2cm appears to have an advantage of being eradicated by surgery if it is not present in the lymph nodes. Actually a tumor in its infancy of less than 2cm has a better outcome of giving your cat a longer life. BUT my veterinarian told me that even the “little” tumor might have already metastasized to a vital organ, generally spreading to the lungs first.     

Some information that I read gives a prognosis of up to 4 and 1/2 years after surgery BUT providing it has not spread to other internal tissue. If the tumor is greater than 2cm, the survival rate greatly diminishes. So all in all mammary tumors are the “pits.” A veterinary oncologist can give your cat a round of chemo but again results are mixed with the survival rate of  2-4 months or perhaps a year or two if your cat is lucky.    

Several factors come into play such as cost, if the tumor has spread, and if your cat can physically handle chemo. Not all chemo drugs are suitable for cats. Yes, the drug might knock out the cancer but one drug is known to “fry” the kidneys  meaning that renal failure will kill your cat before the cancer does (in most cases).  Surgery here in Texas runs around $1,400 plus x rays,  labs, and an echo cardiogram if your cat happens to have a heart murmur (my cat did but it was not severe enough to prevent surgery). Perhaps an ultrasound or MRI will be suggested if you have the $$$$  and if the  surgeon wants to rule out the spread of cancer to other parts of the body. So when all of that is added up, you are looking at near $3,000 or more. Chemo therapy is really costly and will run thousands of dollars.  Lab tests are done with each treatment which really sends the cost up.    

Addie’s surgeon did not suggest an ultrasound or MRI for he felt is just was not necessary. At this point I wish that I knew approximately how long my little cat will live but then again maybe it is best that I do not know. I just enjoy her each and ever day that she is alive. My worry now is that her appetite is poor and I hope it is related to the healing process.  More updates are coming.    

Today, Addie, only ate a few bites of canned AD.  I gave her 75ml of Ringer’s Lactate for hydration. I plan to give her B-complex sub cu in the morning in an effort to stimulate her appetite.    

Addie has slept on top of a chest of drawers for most of the day and is till there as of this writing (11:28pm)    

Post Yvonne Daniel            Photographs Yvonne Daniel