Most people are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time for everyone to spare some thought for people who have been personally affected by cancer and make a donation to a registered charity.
However, cat owners may be surprised to hear that cats can develop breast cancer, normally referred to as mammary cancer by vets. While not as common in cats as it is in dogs, there remains a very real risk.
You can check to see if your cat has any suspicious lumps or tissue nodules by feeling their five pairs of mammary glands while they are relaxed. Simply run your hand down both sides from the armpit to near the groin gently applying pressure around the nipples, which you should check for any discharge.
While less common, male cats can also develop mammary cancer, so whatever the sex of your cat it makes sense to give them a routine check, which you can conduct while giving them a playful tummy rub.
How can you prevent mammary cancer in your cat? The best form of prevention for female cats is early spaying. Cats spayed before they reach six months have a seven times reduced risk of developing mammary cancer.
If your cat has yet to be spayed, make an appointment with your vet to do so, as spaying at any age reduces the chance of your cat developing mammary cancer by 40% to 60%.
Mammary cancer is caused by a number of factors. The primary cause in female cats is believed to be hormone related, as the risk of developing tumors increases with the number of heat cycles the cat passes through before being spayed.
However, it is believed diet may also play an important role, as obese cats of either sex are more likely to develop mammary tumors. A balanced diet is therefore another sensible preventive measure to reduce your cat’s risk of developing mammary cancer and many other ailments.
Be sure to bring any lumps found to the attention of your vet. The earlier the diagnosis, the more effective the treatment will be.
Treatment can take a long time and be expensive. Pet insurance is vital to make sure you are completely covered. Use internet comparison sites to compare online cat insurance quotes and find the right policy for you and your pet.