When your cat is diagnosed with cancer, you may be shocked. Feline cancer is something most people never think or worry about, until it happens to one of their own furry friends.
Discovering that your beloved companion has “The Big C” can be Earth-shattering. Give yourself some time to absorb the information. Once your heart stops reeling, it’s time to become proactive. Find out as much as you can about the type of cancer your cat has, and what you can do about it.
Where to Begin
Your veterinarian is your starting point. He may run blood tests, perform X-rays, or conduct biopsies which help you know more about your cat’s specific type of cancer. Unfortunately, most general veterinary practitioners are limited in their knowledge of–and ability to treat–animal cancer in-office. Chances are you will be referred to a veterinary oncologist.
Yes, veterinary oncologists can be expensive. But if you shop around, you should be able to find a professional who will give you a fairly low-cost consultation. In this consultation, the oncologist will look at your cat, look at the data, and tell you your options (including estimated costs). Beware of the fact that some oncologists will want to re-run the tests your vet already performed. Let the oncologist know if money is a problem. You may be able to convince him that repeating tests is not the best option for your cat where fixed finances are an issue.
The treatment options most likely to be suggested to you at this point are: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and doing nothing. Your doctor will tell you which options are best for your cat. Certain types of cancer respond better to chemotherapy, while others are helped more by radiation. Surgery may be the quickest, and most effective, option in many cases. Still other cats will be best off by doing nothing. You are the one who gets to make the final decision (lucky you!) It’s not an easy decision to make, but keep in mind that it’s part of the responsibility you took on when you became a cat owner. (If there is any comfort to be found, it is in the fact that many other cat-lovers are finding themselves in similar situations. Feline cancer is on the rise.)
Your vet/oncologist should be able to give you some sort of prognosis once the initial tests are run. Remember that a prognosis just a rough estimate. Some kitties live considerably longer than expected, and some not as long. For this reason, your vet may be hesitant to quote you an actual number of days/months/years. Remember that you are the paying customer, and your doctor has a professional obligation to serve you and your cat to the best of his ability. Any doctor worth his salt will encourage you to ask questions, and will take the time to answer all of them without making you feel rushed.
You will feel more in control of the situation if you learn everything you can about your cat’s specific type of cancer. Many on line support groups and informational websites exist to help you with this. Connecting with others in a situation similar to yours can provide an enormous sense of comfort and relief.
Gives an easy-to-read overview of different types of feline cancer:
Provides invaluable on line support through discussion forums:
Provides spiritual help and healing options: