as published on www.pethealthnetwork.com
So what can you do to lower your cat’s risk of dying from cancer? Fortunately there are a few steps you can take to improve your cat’s odds:
1. Spay your cat. Everyone should be spaying their cat to prevent overpopulation, but spaying has an additional cancer benefit many cat parents don’t realize. Spaying a cat before their first heat cycle lowers their risk of developing mammary adenocarcinoma by lowering estrogen levels that promote cancer cell growth.
2. Keep your cat indoor. Cats should be kept indoors for a variety of reasons. For starters, indoor cats typically outlive their outdoor counterparts. The average life span for an indoor cat ranges from 12-18 years, while the average life span for an outdoor cat is 4-5 years. However, besides protecting them from outdoor dangers, keeping your cat indoors and away from the sun also protects them against squamous cell carcinoma. This is especially true for white or lightly pigmented cats that are at an increased risk for getting squamous cell cancer on their ears, nose and eyelids. Keeping them indoors lowers their ultraviolet light exposure and helps protect them from this type of cancer.
3. See your veterinarian regularly. Insuring that your cat has regular veterinary exams is the best chance to detect cancer early. Screening examinations are important because they allow your vet to look for any “lumps and bumps,” and check for subtle signs of cancer or diseases. Remember earlier diagnosis and treatment can improve the prognosis for many cancers.
4. Vaccine risk. Have your veterinarian tailor your cat’s vaccines according to their particular exposure risk. There is no denying the fact that vaccines are important and they prevent many common deadly diseases. However a few vaccines have been associated with the development of a type of cancer called a sarcoma at the injection site. In order to lower your cat’s odds of getting vaccine-associated sarcomas, vaccinate them according to their needs and risks. Your veterinarian will help you determine which vaccines your cat should receive and how often based on their age and lifestyle.
5. Be your cat’s early detection sentinel. Look for any physical or behavioral changes in your feline friend and immediately report these changes to your veterinarian. Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of cancer. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and The Veterinary Cancer Society (VCS) the ten most common signs and symptoms of cancer in pets:
- Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
- Sores that do not heal
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- Offensive odor
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
- Persistent lameness or stiffness
- Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating