What is Feline Lymphoma and Can it Be Treated?


Lymphoma is a very real disease that can affect cats in a way that could cost them their lives. It’s unfortunate, and while it does not happen to all cats, or even all that often, it does happen. It’s difficult to live with a cat that has an illness or disease such as this because it often leaves you feeling that there is nothing you can do for the cat. It’s expensive to care for, and it’s difficult and painful on your animal. It’s also difficult on your family. You will feel many different emotions when your cat is diagnosed, from relief that you finally have some answers as to what is wrong with the cat to sadness that your cat is suffering. You’ll feel anger and upset, and you’ll worry about what to do. See, the biggest problem is that many cat owners simply cannot afford the treatment for cat lymphoma, and few things in life feel quite as bad as that knowledge. Found in the lymphocyte cells, this disease affects the immune system in your cat because these white blood cells are very important to the immune system.

What is Lymphoma in Cats?

Lymphoma is something that causes a myriad of health problems in your cat, from as much as 90 percent of all blood cancers to more than a third of all tumors found in cats. These can be deadly, and they can be very difficult to deal with. If your cat suffers from this disease, you might not even know about it right away. It’s often difficult to realize there is anything wrong with your cat, especially since he or she can’t tell you that something’s not right. To tell if your cat has this disease, you’re going to need your vet to diagnose it. However, you’re going to need to check for some very common symptoms that might help you understand something is wrong. Before we tell you what to watch out for, understand that your cat may or may not exhibit any of these symptoms, some of them, one of them or all of them. It’s a case by case type of situation with cats. And even if your cat does have some of these symptoms, this does not mean your cat has lymphoma; it could be several other issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Lymphoma

There are many different forms of feline lymphoma, and all of the symptoms could indicate any type of this disease. Many of the most common symptoms of lymphoma include:

Loss of appetite



Breathing with the mouth open




Blood in the litter box

Problems urinating

Loss of desire to drink water

There are so many other symptoms associated with this illness, but they are very individualized from cat to cat. When you realize that something is wrong with your cat based on one or more of these symptoms or a combination of them, you will want to take your cat to the vet right away. Once there, you will want to make sure you tell your vet what is happening and what is going on. The good news is that these symptoms could be indicative of many other issues, including a basic illness that could go away on its own.

Can Feline Lymphoma be Treated?

Unfortunately, feline lymphoma does not have a cure. Chances of your vet being able to cure your cat of this disease are slim to none, and your cat is likely going to lose this battle. We’re very sorry if your cat is suffering from lymphoma. It cannot be an easy situation, and we cannot imagine how you must feel at this moment in time.

Most vets will offer you the advice that you do whatever you can to keep your cat comfortable in the final days and weeks of his or her life. There is a possibility that your cat can be treated with chemo and radiation, but not all cats are viable for this treatment. Additionally, you’d need to consult with a highly specialized oncologist who works only with animals, and that can be a very expensive and very difficult task since they’re not all that common all over the place.

If you’re wondering how long your cat has to live now that it’s been diagnosed with this disease, there is no guaranteed timeframe. Many factors contribute to the length of time your cat might have left. It could be as few as a few weeks or months, or as long as two years – and that’s not to say he or she might not live even longer with treatment. Your cat’s age, overall health and the severity of the lymphoma will have a direct impact on the timeframe in which your cat lives, as well. There is, simply put, no real way to tell just how long your cat has to live once it’s been diagnosed with this health issue.

If you suspect that your cat is suffering from something that could be feline lymphoma, you will need to get your cat to the vet immediately. The vet will ask a lot of questions, and you will need to be as open and honest as possible. Once your vet is finished asking questions, a number of tests will be performed to help decide what it could be that’s plaguing your cat. If lymphoma has been detected in your cat, your vet will sit you down to talk to you about what it happening with your cat. You will need to decide together the best course of treatment for your cat. Do you have the means to afford a special vet that can perform extensive treatments on your cat? If you can and your cat is a candidate for this treatment process, your vet will discuss it with you. Otherwise, your vet will help provide you with in-depth information as to how you can help your cat live as comfortably as possible so that he or she can live out the remainder of his or her days as best as is possible.

Photo by Afton Almaraz/Getty Images

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