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How can you tell if your cat has a nasal tumor?

Nasal tumors are a serious condition that can impact your cat's cognitive abilities and their ability to breathe properly. Here, you will learn about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for nasal tumors in cats.

What is a nasal tumor? 

A nasal tumor is a type of cancer caused by the rapid uncontrolled growth of cells that line a cat's nasal airway. For felines, the most common nasal tumor is nasal lymphoma.

What causes cat nasal tumors?

The reason for the appearance of cancer in one particular pet over another is not fully understood; as in humans, a potential mixture of risk factors (environmental, genetic, and/or hereditary) Being exposed to cigarette smoke and inhabiting urban areas seem to be risk factors, and cats are further at risk by being exposed to certain viruses. Cats with compromised immune systems (e.g. feline leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) may be at higher risk of developing lymphoma, including nasal lymphoma.

What are the signs of nasal tumors in cats?

Cat nasal tumor symptoms typically include one or more of the following:

  • Nasal discharge (often similar to pus or streaked with blood)
  • Noisy breathing (due to nasal obstruction)
  • Coughing
  • Snoring
  • Lack of energy
  • Weight loss
  • Facial deformities caused by tumor growth
  • Sneezing
  • Neurological signs (e.g., seizures, sudden blindness, walking in circles, muscular weakness, and behavioral changes) are unusual but are sometimes the only signs exhibited

How are nasal tumors diagnosed?

Your vet will use diagnostic imaging tools such as MRI and X-rays to view the internal structures of your cat's nasal area. Using imaging allows the vet to more precisely determine the size and location of the nasal tumor. Further testing, including biopsy and microscopic analysis, may be necessary.

Your vet or vet oncologist may recommend staging (searching for signs of cancer in other parts of the cat's body) which may include bloodwork, urinalysis, X-rays, and potentially ultrasound. Using fine needle aspiration (FNA), a sample of the cat's lymph node cells for examination under a microscope. 

Regardless of the spread throughout the rest of the body, immediate treatment of the nasal tumors must start at once. These growths are painful and can negatively affect the brain. Timely treatment is helpful for pain and disease management for cats with this condition. 

What is the treatment for nasal tumors in cats?

The treatment for nasal tumors depends on the specific type of tumor. Lymphomas which are commonly seen in cats can be treated with radiation. However, because lymphoma is a systemic disease, they will need careful monitoring to ensure that the cancer isn't present elsewhere. If this is the case, chemotherapy may be recommended. Your vet will take the time to provide answers about your cat's unique case, including treatment options and prognoses.

What is the life expectancy of a cat with a nasal tumor?

Your cat's prognosis will depend upon several factors including the type of cancer, age of your cat, whether the cancer has spread and your cat's overall health. Only your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a realistic prognosis for your cat.

In some cases, cats diagnosed with a nasal tumor will have a very short life expectancy of just a few weeks. On the other hand, aggressive treatment can help some cats live a good quality of life for up to 12 - 24 months, depending on the type of tumor.

If the tumor has spread to the cat's brain or other parts of the body survival time will likely be significantly shorter even with aggressive treatment.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you think that your cat may have a nasal tumor? Our experienced vets at Belle Forest Animal Hospital are here to help. Contact our Nashville vets today to book an examination for your kitty.

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