Lymphoma in Cats

By ELIZABETH BENSON

What is Feline Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a common type of cancer in cats. It is caused by the proliferation of malignant lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) that often occurs in the chest, kidneys, nose, skin, spine, and gastrointestinal tract.

There are several classification systems for lymphoma based on whether or not it is high, intermediate, or low grade (aggressiveness), where it is located in the body, and what type of cells are involved (T- cells vs B-cells). Often times cats present to their veterinarian with clinical signs such as depression, lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, and a decreased appetite.

 

What Symptoms Can Present as the Disease Progresses?

Early stages:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Eye infections

Late stages:

  • Persistent early stages
  • Lethargy, depression
  • Reclusive behavior
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Presence of a mass
  • Constipation due to dehydration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fluid in lungs or chest
  • Distended abdomen
  • Anorexia

Crisis – Immediate veterinary assistance needed regardless of disease:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Prolonged seizures
  • Uncontrollable vomiting/diarrhea
  • Sudden collapse
  • Profuse bleeding – internal or external
  • Crying/whining from pain*

*It should be noted that most animals will instinctually hide their pain. Vocalization of any sort that is out of the ordinary for your pet may indicate that their pain and anxiety have become too much for them to bear. If your pet vocalizes due to pain or anxiety, please consult with your tending veterinarian immediately.

 

 

Common Signs of Pain

Panting, lameness, difficulty sleeping, pacing, abnormal posture, body tensing, poor grooming habits, tucked tail, dilated pupils, licking sore spot, muscle atrophy, decreased appetite, vocalizing/yowling, reclusive behavior, aggressive behavior, avoiding stairs/jumping, depressed, unable to stand.

How is Feline Lymphoma Treated?

Chemotherapy is the best treatment for lymphoma. There is a wide range of chemotherapeutic drugs that can be used in combination to combat this disease. Prednisone in conjunction with other chemotherapeutics will often improve the quality and quantity of life. While there is no cure for lymphoma, it can be put into remission with treatment.

What Is the Prognosis for Feline Lymphoma?

About 75% of cats go into remission with treatment, but unfortunately, the median survival time is usually only 6 months as most cats tend to relapse. If left untreated, most cats will not survive longer than 4-6 weeks. Palliative care like nutritional therapy, prednisone alone, and pain medication can help to keep cats comfortable as the disease progresses.

A personalized treatment plan is important to slow the progression of lymphoma. Talk to your veterinarian regarding the best treatment protocol for your cat.

 

Testimonials

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who... read more

Renee C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him... read more

Diane C.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but... read more

Terry A.

Renee C.

I can't recommend them enough. I had to say goodbye to my 21 year old cat companion. I read the reviews here on Yelp and chose Paws Into Grace and they made an unbearable situation not worse - from the people on the phone to the amazing doctor who came out to the house. She was so understanding and supportive. They were all so helpful, understanding and nice. My girl got to stay at home and say goodbye in the backyard (a hummingbird flew over and it seemed like a good sign too). So glad I didn't have to take her to a cold vet office.

Diane C.

My absolute love Dante had heart failure three months ago. After having him on many medications to help him, his enthusiasm and appetite declined last couple of days. He was in pain and we decided to help him go to heaven rather than torturing him with more medications which would make him even more miserable. I called and spoke to a very kind lady who was patient as I cried through making an appointment. We made an appointment for 1:30pm. Dr. Toni arrived. She was very kind, explained everything to us and gave us the time to be with our boy after the first shot. He wasn't relaxing enough so she gave him a second shot. We stayed with him throughout the entire process and I carried him to her car in the end. It was a very difficult decision but knowing that our boy is not in pain, gives us some peace. We are thankful to Dr. Toni for her kindness and compassion. They will arrange the cremation for us. Since we are in a pandemic, we had our masks on and said goodbye to our boy in our garden.

Terry A.

I wanted to thank you for sending Dr. Brown to euthanize our beloved Myleigh on March 4, 2021. She was compassionate and accommodating, she explained every step of the procedure, and gave us some alone time with Myleigh after she sedated her, but before she attached the IV. We were relieved that we made the decision to let her go to doggy heaven at home. It was a tranquil and serene passing for her, and it very much aids us in the grieving and healing process knowing that she passed away so peacefully. Based on the grace and compassion Dr. Brown demonstrated on one of the most awful days of our lives we would not hesitate to recommend Paws Into Grace for others facing this very painful time.
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