Feline Cancer Resources - First Step

In loving memories of Phil and Holly

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First Step
    Common signs of cancer
  Get a diagnosis
  Good place to start

Emotional support


Cancer Overview

    Cancer diagnosis
    Types of cancer
    Cancer FAQs
    Oral cancer
    GI cancer
    Mammary cancer
    Skin cancer
    Tumor Tidbits


Treatment Options

      Side effects
    Patient care


Medical Topics

    Pain management
    Blood tests
    Pilling a cat
    Compounding pharmacies
    Subcutaneous fluids
    First aid
    Caring for handicapped pets
    Veterinary supplies
    Pet hospice care


Nutritional Support



    Assisted feeding


Final Decision

    Definition of euthanasia
    Procedure of euthanasia
    Making the decision
    Grieving and support





    Veterinary organizations
    Citation databases
    General health care


Support Groups

    For cats
    For dogs
  Angels and Friends
  Professional site of Phil & Holly's mom

Holly's Story (Lymphoma)
Don's hyperthyroidism-CRF-hypertension diary

Extra 2:
Celeste's chronic bronchitis (or feline asthma?) diary

Contact Phil and Holly's mom

Web sites of other cancer cats:

V's Story
(Diffuse liver cancer. She passed on March 7, 2005)
Blossom and Tommy
(Oral SCC, mother and son)
Hector's diary (Subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma on his leg; he's being treated alternatively)
Cleo (Lymphoma on the head; Going strong with holistic remedies!)
Biz (Squamous cell carcinoma of the cheek and mouth)

Friskie (Oral squamous cell carcinoma)

Woodrow (Lymphoma)

Gem (Oral squamous cell carcinoma)

Snoop and others
(Oral squamous cell carcinoma)

Punkie Louise (Lymphoma)

Hurricane Katrina and Rita had not only shattered the lives of so many people in the Gulf Coast region, but the devastation also affected thousands and thousands of animals. Please check these Web sites for the ongoing efforts to help animals affected by the hurricanes:

Lakeview Cats Roaming - This is one of the cats who were roaming the area in New Orleans, called Lakeview. This cat greeted a volunteer feeder with a friendly meow, but recently found deceased. Most likely killed by a stray dog (who also might have been someone's lap dog before...). It is just one of so many heartbreaking stories still going on in New Orleans and other places in the Gulf Coast.

Katrina Creatures & Critters - A blog written by a person who lives in Metairie (suburb of New Orleans). You need a box of Kleenex...

Animal Emergency Response Network - Listings of Lost/Left and Found animals affected by hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma.

Animal Rescue New Orleans - Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO) is a grass roots organization founded by Jane Garrison, Pia Salk and David Meyer. It is now run by a local voluteers in New Orleans. The need still remains, and the job is not yet completed.

Lost Katrina Pet from PetFinder - The Lost Pets of Katrina; Photos of Missing Gulf Coast Pets from Petfinder.com LOST Reports; The owners of these pets are believed to be still actively looking.

Stealth Volunteers (See also here) - A group of dedicated and capable volunteers helping reunite the displaced animals and their guardians.

No Animal Left Behind - Working Together to Reunite the Animal Victims of Katrina with their Owners. Email address: noanimalleftbehind@gmail.com

Lost Katrina Pets - Katrina's Lost Pets | Help find these missing pets

More places to look for missing Katrina/Rita pets

Flickr sites by yepitsme770 - Photos of lost/found Katrina pets

Flickr sites by spiritsmom - Photos of lost/found Katrina pets

Eric's Dog Blog - "This blog provides vivid descriptions directly from the operations of various animal rescue groups in New Orleans, LA and surrounding areas."

Help for Katrina's Forgotten Victims - Kinship Circle

Vermilion Animal Aid (blog) - Helping humans and their animals in Vermilion Parish

Vermilion Animal Aid - Official Web site of Vermilion Animal Aid


Welcome to Feline Cancer Resources. This site is intented to be a gateway or clearinghouse for the numerous information available on the Internet on cancer in cats. Please use this site to explore various issues you will face in the battle against cancer in your beloved cat. If you are looking for information on a specific type of cancer, check "Types of cancer" section. There are several different resources listed, so make sure you check all on the page.

If you are here because your cat was recently diagnosed with cancer, or your cat is suspected to have cancer, I am so sorry. I know how devastating it is and how scared you are right now. I felt the same way when my Phil was diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma and again my Holly was diagnosed with her lymphoma. Both Phil and Holly fought their cancer head on. Although they both eventually succumbed to the disease, their spirits were never defeated. This site is their legacy. Their fights were not in vain if this site can provide even a little help to other cats and their owners who are fighting this disease.

- Phil and Holly's mom

Common signs of cancer

The signs of cancer in cats vary depending on the type of cancer. Oral cancer is suspected if a cat is drooling excessively, has difficulty eating or swallowing, or is bleeding from the mouth. Cats with lung cancer will have rapid and labored breathing. Cats with cancer in the digestive system may vomit (sometimes projectile) and/or have diarrhea, or they suddenly stop eating. Bone cancer in limbs might cause lameness and stiffness. Any lumps and bumps (see PetEducation.com's descriptions of lumps and bumps) on any parts of the body are cause of concern, especially if it is rapidly growing, is warm or painful, is ulcerated or bleeding, is irregular in shape or is well attached to the tissues under the skin. Sores and wounds on ears and nose that don't heal could be skin cancer. Chronic nasal discharge might indicate nasal cancer.

Detecting any of these signs and acting quickly is the first weapon for fighting cancer (or any other serious illnesses in our cats for that matter). It is always better to be safe than to be sorry later. Some cancer is so aggressive that it might become too late when you finally take your cat to the veterinarian. When in doubt, act immediately. Take your cat to the vet!

If your cat is getting older, it is a good idea to routinely examine the body by stroking and petting and going over the entire body. Such regular grooming sessions will serve two purposes: Detecting "anything out of ordinary" as well as deepening the bond between you and your cat. Annual or biannual geriatric complete physical examination is also very useful in catching geriatric illnesses early such as hyperthyroidism and chronic renal failure as well as cancer.

Here are some more guidelines on what to look for in detecting cancer in your cat:

The 10 Warning Signs of Cancer - By Dr. Gerald S. Post, Animal Cancer Foundation.

  1. Swollen lymph nodes
  2. An enlarging or changing lump
  3. Abdominal distension
  4. Chronic weight loss
  5. Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
  6. Unexplained bleeding
  7. Cough
  8. Lameness
  9. Straining to urinate
  10. Oral odor

Ten Common Signs of Cancer in Small Animals
(American Veterinary Medical Association)

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  2. Sores that do not heal
  3. Weight loss
  4. Loss of appetitie
  5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  6. Offensive odor
  7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
  8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  9. Persistent lameness or stiffness
  10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

PetsVetsandYou, Inc.

  1. Change of bowel or bladder habits: Diarrhea or constipation, straining to urinate or defecate, blood or mucous in the stool or urine.
  2. A sore that does not heal: Some skin cancers don't appear as lumps, but as raw, bleeding or scabby areas.
  3. Unusual bleeding or discharge: Bleeding from the mouth, ears, or nose may signal a tumor inside.
  4. Drooling or difficulty swallowing: Very common with tumors in the mouth or throat.
  5. Changes in respiration: Nagging cough, hoarseness, tiring easily, rapid breathing or excessive panting, all are signs of heart and lung disease.
  6. Abdominal distension or filling: A mass in the abdominal cavity may make your pet appear to be bloated or to have gained weight. This is especially worrisome if your pet looks thin otherwise.
  7. Unexplained weight loss.
  8. Changes in behavior, temperament, activity level or habits.

All these signs can be symptoms of other diseases as well. Call your veterinary clinic right away if you notice any changes in your pet.

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Get a diagnosis

If you suspect that your cat has cancer, the first thing you should do is to get a definitive diagnosis. It is not possible for a veterinarian to give you an accurate assessment of you cat's cancer, or develop an appropriate treatment plan for him/her without a definitive diagnosis. Your veterinarian needs to know the type, stage, and behavior of the cancer to start treating it properly.

Once you get a definitive diagnosis, learn as much information about the specific type of cancer as possible. Join the excellent support groups available online. Ask lots of questions to others who have experiences with the type of cancer with which your cat was diagnosed. Read some of the very valuable resources listed below that will help you sort through your initial turmoil and prepare for your fight.

Don't take one doctor's opinion as the only option that you should pursue. If need be, get a second, or a third, or even a fourth opinion. It is highly recommended that you consult with a board certified veterinary oncologist or internal medicine specialist even if you are planning to treat your cat holistically. Knowing exactly what is happening to your cat and what to expect is empowerment. It will help you make appropriate decisions along the way.

Don't be intimidated by all those difficult medical terms. If you don't understand, ask for clarification until you feel comfortable. Write down any concerns and questions on paper. Take a pen and paper with you along with the list of questions you jotted down to your visit to the veterinarian. When you meet with the veterinarian, take a detailed note. It is very likely that you will be overwhelmed by the information and won't be able to remember most of what was discussed during the visit.

Request copies of the results of bloodtest, pathology report, and any other important records of your cat's treatment.

If you feel alone, don't despair. There are lots of people who understand exactly how you feel; your anxiety, fear, anger, dread, sadness, and most of all, your deep love for your furbaby. Find the support group that fits your situation and share your journey with others. Having other people who are walking the similar rocky road and who really understand your struggles will make your journey more bearable. You are not alone.

It is a devastating blow to hear that your cat has cancer. You might be experiencing numbness, anger, confusion, and all the other whirlwind of emotions. It feels like it is the end of the world. However, even though you might not be able to "cure" cancer, you will be able to "treat" it and make your cat's remaining days as comfortable and dignified as possible. Please use this site to explore various issues you will encounter while you take care of your beloved furry friend.

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Good place to start

Understanding Cancer - National Cancer Institute. Online tutorial that "discusses and illustrates what cancer is, explains the link between genes and cancer, and discusses what is known about the causes, detection and diagnosis of the disease." Information is for human cancer but the basic principles apply to animal cancer.

01 Introduction
02 What is Cancer?
03 Different Kinds of Cancers
04 Naming Cancers
05 Loss of Normal Growth
06 Example of Normal Growth
07 The Beginning of Cancerous Growth
08 Tumors (Neoplasms)
09 Invasion and Metastasis
10 Malignant Versus Benign Tumors
11 Why Cancer is Potentially Dangerous
12 Cancer Detection and Diagnosis
13 Early Cancer May Not Have Any Symptoms
14 Pap Test
15 Mammograms
16 Blood Test
17 Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
18 Biopsy
19 Microscopic Apperance of Cancer Cells
20 Hyperplasia
21 Dysplasia
22 Carcinoma in Situ
23 Tumor Grading
24 Tumor Staging
25 What Causes Cancer?
26 Populations - Based Studies
27 Heredity? Behaviors? Other Factors
28 Tobacco Use and Cancer
29 Low - Strength Radiation
30 High - Strength Radiation
31 Lag Time
32 Viruses
33 Examples of Human Cancer Viruses
34 AIDS and Kaposi's Sarcoma
35 Bacteria and Stomach Cancer
36 Heredity and Cancer
37 Heredity Can Affect Many Types of Cancer
38 Genetic Testing
39 Cancer Risk and Aging
40 Gene and Cancer
41 DNA Structure
42 DNA Mutation
43 Gene Mutations and Cancer
44 Oncogenes
45 Proto - Oncogenes and Normal Cell Growth
46 Oncogenes are Mutant Forms of Proto - Oncogenes
47 Oncogenes Act Like an Accelerator
48 Tumor Suppressor Genes
49 Tumor Suppressor Genes Act Like a Break Pedal
50 The p53 Tumor Suppressor Gene Triggers Cell Suicide
51 DNA Repairs
52 Cancer Tends to Involve Multiple Mutations
53 Cancer Prevention
54 Avoiding Tobacco
55 Protect Yourself Against Sunlight
56 Limited Alcohol and Tobacco Consumption
57 Diet: Limit Fats and Calories
58 Diet: Consume Fruits and Vegetables
59 Avoid Cancer Viruses
60 Avoid Carcinogens at Work and at Home
61 Industrial Pollution
62 Is There a Cancer "Epidemic"?

What You Neet To Know About Cancer - An Overview - National Cancer Institute. Also human cancer information, but basically parallel to veterinary cancer.

Table of Contents:
What Is Cancer?
Possible Causes and Prevention of Cancer
Screening and Early Detection
Symptoms of Cancer
Laboratory Tests
Handling the Diagnosis
Getting a Second Opinion
Preparing for Treatment
Methods of Treatment and Their Side Effects
Nutrition During Cancer Treatment
Pain Control
Followup Care
Support for People with Cancer
Clinical Trials
National Cancer Institute Booklets
National Cancer Institute Information Resources

Cancer Information - National Cancer Institute. Table of Contents of Cancer Information.

Types of Cancer; Treatment; Prevention, Genetics, Causes; Screening and Testing; Coping with Cancer; Support and Resources; Cancer Literature; PDQ

Caring for Pets with Cancer - By Dr. Kevin Hahn, D.V.M., Ph.D., Diplomate A.C.V.I.M. (Oncology) (& Overall Nice Guy), Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists. One of the best resources that are available online. Check all the links on the left side column on the page, especially "Rules of Treatment" and "Patient Care Tidbits."

- Rules of Treatment
- Chemotherapy Tidbits
- Our Best Protocols
- Tumor Tidbits
- Patient Care Tidbits
- Pet Loss Support
- Reading List
- Exam Room Quotes

"Tumor Tidbits" - Biweekly e-newsletter by Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists.

Where to begin? - Animal Cancer Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University. They advocate "compassionate cancer care." Their pages are written with very caring tone.

"You can defeat the darkness of cancer with knowledge. The first step is to work with your veterinary health care team to learn as much about the disease and its treatment as possible. Be proactive. Ask questions and obtain resources to educate yourself about cancer and cancer therapeutics. Tackling tough questions about cancer and cancer therapies can enhance your ability to think clearly and make decisions."

"Understand there are no incorrect decisions: Do not worry about what other people will think about your decisions. You know your pet better than anyone else in the world. Once you have gathered the information you need, listen to your heart and you will make the right decisions."

"A diagnosis of cancer often brings with it some overwhelming emotions, including a sense of loss of control, and a sense of hopelessness. When facing the diagnosis of cancer in a beloved pet, you may feel the responsibility of making important life-changing decisions for someone who relies totally on your judgment. Your pet not only shares your home, your life and your experiences, but also your heart. This loved one depends on you to provide the best possible care. And extending a patient's good quality of life is the best reason to treat cancer."

OncoSite Frequently Asked Questions - An educational and resource site for animal oncology. Easy-to-understand explanation. Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. The questions answered include:

- What are the effects of cancer on animals?
- What is the incidence of cancer in our pets?
- What do we know about the causes of cancer in our animals?
- Can my dog's/cat's cancer be spread to me or my other pets?
- What treatments are available for animals with cancer?
- How is cancer diagnosed?
- What are the side effects of radiation therapy?
- What about chemotherapy?
- What are the side effects of chemotherapeutic treatment?
- How is chemotherapy given?
- What questions should I ask my veterinarian or veterinary oncologist before my pet begins chemotherapy?
- What is my pet's prognosis?

Guide to Making Decisions About Cancer Therapy - Eli Lilly and Company at Oncolink, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center. Although this guide is written for human cancer patients, it equally applies to animal cancer patients.

Cancer FAQ - Animal Cancer Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Colorado State University.

Cancer is a treatable disease - Overview of cancer in animals, how it's diagnosed, what are the treatment options, and brief description of common cancers. All Care Animal Referral Center (Fountain Valley, CA).

Cancer in Dogs and Cats - Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Ask the Experts (Cancer FAQ) - Most Recently Answered Questions. OncoLink Vet, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center.

Ask the Experts (Cancer FAQ Archive) - Previously Answered Questions. OncoLink Vet, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center.

Valley Animal Medical Foundation - Cancer FAQs.

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Emotional support

Anticipatory Grief Complexes Cancer Management - by Alice E. Villalobos, DVM, Veterinary Practice News article.

"Pre-Loss Bereavement" and the Power of Bargaining - by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed., Pet Loss Support Page

Online support groups - List of online support groups for cancer and other feline illnesses.

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