Guide to Mast Cell Tumors in Cats from Ashworth Road Animal Hospital
A mast cell is a white blood cell that responds to allergens. If your cat is exposed to allergens, the mast cells release natural compounds, such as histamines, which cause itching, sneezing, and other allergy symptoms.
Unfortunately, mast cells sometimes form in masses along the skin and the body’s organs, causing sickness, discomfort, and potentially, death. These are known as mast cell tumors. We understand that this can be a scary condition, so we put together this guide to help. If you have any further questions, give our veterinary clinic a call. We serve Urbandale, West Des Moines, Windsor Heights, Clive, and the surrounding areas.
Call us today at (515) 225-1807!
Signs and Symptoms of Mast Cell Tumors
Symptoms of mast cell tumors vary among cats. However, the following are some of the most common symptoms that cats suffering from mast cell tumors experience:
- Raised red spots on the skin that are typically missing hair
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Itchiness or excessive licking and grooming in one spot
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Enlarged liver or spleen
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important that your cat receives veterinary care as soon as possible. Mast cell tumors are sometimes fatal, but if they are found in time, a cat’s chances of recovering dramatically increase.
Risk Factors Associated with Mast Cell Tumors
Any cat can develop a mast cell tumor. However, some factors increase the risk of mast cell tumor development, such as:
- Age: The average age a cat develops a mast cell tumor is 10 years or older. However, younger cats have been known to develop them, as well.
- Breed: Cats of any breed can develop mast cell tumors, but Siamese cats are more likely to develop them than others.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Typically, our veterinarian will take a sample of tissue from the tumor to analyze it under a microscope. You cat may or may not need to be sedated during the process.
A biopsy will help our veterinarian determine the tumor’s grade and the disease’s stage so the best treatment can be prescribed.
When possible, mast cell tumors will be surgically removed. Thankfully, most feline mast cell tumors of the skin are benign, but they should still be removed. In some cases, our vet will recommend chemotherapy to ensure any metastasized tumors are treated. Tumors which cannot be removed completely may require a referral for radiation therapy.
For mast cell tumors of the gastrointestinal system, our vet will most likely prescribe antacid or anti-nausea medication for your cat in addition to other treatment methods. This is because mast cell tumors can release certain compounds that increase the stomach’s acid production, making your cat feel ill.
Make Your Pet Care Appointment at Ashworth Road Animal Hospital
Our team at Ashworth wants to help you give your cat the healthiest life possible. Give us a call today at (515) 225-1807 to schedule your pet care appointment. We are happy to serve West Des Moines, Clive, Urbandale, and Windsor Heights.